The H in Accountant stands for Happiness. Wait a minute, how do you spell accountant? ACCOUNTANT, there is no H? That’s the point. There is no happiness in this career, as the joke goes. The stereotype is that accounting is so boring that no one would ever ask questions about what we do, maybe except for “can you do my taxes?” You know, tax season is here!
Dear Toastmasters, speakers and guests, if you would pretend to be interested, let me explain how I’ve just had two of the most FUN months of the year *Wink*. I work in public accounting, and every January to March is the notorious “busy season,” when my schedule would be more or less like Coffee-Work-sleep at 2 a.m.-Repeat. I just love the busy season! – Says no one ever! Running on 4 hours of sleep to perform complex analysis on public companies financial information while questioning my career choice is 100% not fun.The workload, the tight deadlines, and the high scrutiny on the work make the two months feel like sprinting at full speed on heels holding eight glasses of expensive wine, no spills allowed. Our motto is “move fast, but don’t break anything!”
For those who’ve gone through intense periods at work or school, you may be no stranger to burnout. In public accounting or any work place where the workaholic culture and perfectionism are glorified, burnout is so common as if it is a norm, but it really shouldn’t be. Burnout feels very real, can eat alive your motivation and mental health without realizing it, thinking that YOU are the problem! Having survived another busy season, I have come a long way in finding the H in Accountant.
First of all, acknowledge your feelings. This is such an important first step, because when work or life becomes demanding, It is easy to just brush our feelings under the rug and keep going. That, my friends, is the express train to burnout. Imagine you see your friend or your coworker having a bad day, would you just ignore them and pretend like you didn’t see them? Most of us, especially women, would NOT because that’s kind of cruel; we would, instead, empathize and try to help. Now do that when we, ourselves, are having a bad day. Do NOT ignore your feelings; be kind to yourself like a friend and try to help yourself out.
That brings me to my second point, do the things that you love, and most importantly, be fully present and enjoy them! Over the years, I have done my fair share of “self-care” activities – yoga and meditation, spontaneous travel, and if you were here last time I spoke, you know I’ve adopted more houseplants than I could ever handle. When I first started though, I always felt a bit of guilt in the back of my mind, because having internalized the constant expectations from society to perform, I thought of them as slacking or just running away from my problems. Thankfully, through meditation practice, i’ve come to realize that it is not about going through the motions of “self-care”, it’s about being able to care for yourself kindly, gently, and genuinely from within your mind. Accept the things you love and who you are as a person.
And last but not least, happiness is a choice,and we can always choose to be happy. That doesn’t mean that we would be happy if we simply click a magical select button, but it means the conscious effort of choosing to make the best of the present moment. For example, Instead of being hung up on a choice I made years ago to be an accountant, I learned to ask myself, do I want to be one right now? It is liberating to know that at any given moment, I can and I am making a choice about my life. Instead of going at it alone, I’ve also learned to build a strong support system. It’s a blessing to be able to have great relationships with my coworkers, with whom I could share a laugh at dark accounting memes before logging off at 2 a.m. And I am deeply grateful for my family and friends, like Renee, Abhijeet and my friends at WOMEN LEAD for their kindness, empathy, and support. Without you all, I wouldn’t have been able to go through this speech with a smile on my face. 🙂
There is no H in Accountant, there is not even H in the spelling of life, but we can always choose to find abounding happiness in life. Be kind to yourself, and take care, my friends!
See you at our virtual happy hour on March 24th 7-8pm PST
written by Vicky Pan, VP of Membership at Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters