I am currently a 30-year-old CPA that focuses primarily on real estate tax; this means I’m a numbers person and not so artsy with words. In addition, I am a wife to a pretty amazing man who has helped me become a better me in our 11 years together. Although there is still so much more for me to learn, here are the top three things I wish I had learned earlier in my life and my career:
I’ve spent a good chunk of my time being a perfectionist and never wanting to upset anyone. I have learned, though, that sometimes you have to say no and saying no isn’t always a bad thing. Human nature is to want to help and to say yes but sometimes what’s best for everyone involved is for you to say no. That said there is an art to saying no. Maybe you are already swamped at work but you feel like you can’t turn down work. Now you run the risk of delivering the product untimely or rushing through and making mistakes that you could have prevented. Say no, maybe someone else has time to complete the task appropriately. It’s best for you to spend your time on work and projects that will help you learn and grow in your career – say yes to those projects! A mentor can be a good resource to help teach you how and when to say no if you struggle with this.
Less is more. The less stuff you have to find a place for, maintain, or deal with means more time for you to do what’s important in your life. A few years ago my husband introduced me to a few different blogs that discuss frugality and financial freedom. I won’t bog you down with all of the details but in summary it’s not about how much you make but instead how much you spend, and you should spend money on things that make you happy in the long term. I was very surprised to find that we could save over half of our income but still not feel like we are giving up anything and have more than we ever really need! This leads to financial freedom, which means that one day – well before the average retirement age – we will be choosing to work instead of having to work! I strongly encourage anyone who feels financial stress to check out Mr. Money Mustache (www.mrmoneymustache.com) to find a few easy changes you can make that can change your life.
From kindergarten through the 12th grade your full-time job is being a student. You are constantly learning, doing homework, and taking exams. Then you go off to college where you are still learning and maybe you even acquire a master’s degree. Finally after what felt like an eternity of classes you start your career in the real world and guess what – you don’t know anything! You have tons of on the job training and realize that you will learn every day for the rest of your life. A change happens though –you are no longer forced to learn now you are choosing to learn. I now find myself wanting to learn as much as I can about several different topics. I wish I had this same approach while I was a student so that I was learning to learn and not learning to pass a required test or class. It’s much more rewarding to learn when you are able to think about what you have just read and form your own opinion about that topic or issue.
You will go to your workplace more than any other place, so if at all possible choose to live nearby. I used to live 15 miles from work and now I am less than 2! The timesaving has been fantastic. Most of us will have countless long days at work and spending the least amount of time possible in the car will help reduce stress. Just trust me on this one!
Some of these lessons took some time to learn. Whenever possible, make sure you spend your time on meaningful projects that will help you reach your goals. When things get hectic stay calm, take a few deep breaths and refocus yourself.
– Ashley Christie, CPA | Manager, Real Estate Services –
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