A word of wisdom to working professionals: the road to success if often is a marathon, not a sprint. As long as you are moving forward at a steady pace, you will be on your way to successfully reaching the goals that you set for yourself.
I used to be obsessed with reading CPA candidate message boards. I was desperately looking for a blueprint to passing the CPA exam. I would always come across posts where so many others would study for hours on end each day or squeeze in so many hours per week. I would do my best to abide by those same goals and was so hard on myself when I was unable to reach those standards.
The truth is, I live a very busy life and have a ton of responsibilities, both at work and outside of work, that often leave me so exhausted that at times I can hardly see straight. I know that I am not alone. For those that are faced with similar circumstances, I can give you a few simple tips that will save you the stress and headache that I have had to endure while trying to accomplish a career goal. If you are as busy as I am, then you know that keeping things simple is critical.
Begin with the end in mind.
You will reach your desired outcome. Visualize yourself where you want to be. If you can conceptualize it first, you have created a strong foundation for success. It sounds cliché, but it works.
Develop a plan for how you will achieve your goal.
Whoever said ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’ got it right. Without a plan, you only prolong the process of getting to the finish line. I have learned this the hard way. Had I taken the time to properly plan earlier in my CPA Exam process, I would have passed it a long time ago.
Be specific and realistic about your goals.
Personally, my job drains my brain cells during the week. Previously, I would try to go home after work and study for the exam for 4 hours, which was completely unrealistic for my lifestyle. Now, I set a goal during the week to watch 3 lectures each day. That is it. If I can go longer, I will. But I save the longer study sessions for the weekends. Only you will be able to determine what you can do.
Always be consistent.
This is an absolute. I have learned that the most important lesson to be learned when studying for the exam is to be consistent. Work toward your goal every day, even if it is just for a little while. I know some people who are able to study for the exam for many hours on end and can afford to take a rest day. However, when moving at a slower, more consistent pace, I have learned that exposing myself to the material consistently is vital to my retention.
Do not compare your journey to anyone else’s.
Avoid this mistake at all costs. You may have the same goal as someone else. However, the circumstances will be different for everyone and we are never privy to all of that information.
For example, I started my current position with a guy that passed all 4 sections of the exam right way. That was 3 years ago. I am still studying for my second exam. I have gained and lost sections in the process. He has no children and was able to stay after work to study for many hours. I have to rush home to get my son from football practice, then cook dinner, help him with homework sometimes, study, etc. I used to be hard on myself that I was not further along in this process. However, our circumstances were completely different and I was being unfair to myself by comparing my situation to his and others’.
These tips will be applicable to any goal you set whether it is personal or professional. In any case, I hope that I have provided some valuable insight that serves you well in your future endeavors.
--Kimberly Smith, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review