The Most Important Piece Missing From Having A Balanced Life
If there’s one topic that accountant moms want to discuss more than any other, it’s how to have a more balanced life. They intellectually understand that there are just 24 hours in a day in order to get work done and take care of their family, but emotionally they’re overwhelmed with the weight they feel on their shoulders to balance it all.
Not only do they struggle with balancing both a career and a family, but they also feel the pressure of having to look like it’s not a struggle. In such a male dominated profession as accounting, it can be incredibly challenging to keep the same pace as most of your male colleagues who aren’t as worried about whether they gave their child lunch money that morning or what time they leave the office so the babysitter doesn’t get mad.
The never-ending tug-of-war that you probably experience on a regular basis can make the idea of thriving instead of just surviving seem laughable. Just as you seem to have things under control and have some semblance of balance in your life, a global pandemic shifts everything, your boss’s or client’s expectations are growing, or your children’s needs change and make you feel like you have no idea how to be a good mom.
Unfortunately, as you grow in your accounting career and have various goals you’d like to achieve both professionally and personally, it can be disheartening when things aren’t as easy as you would like them to be or when life just doesn’t seem to be able to be balanced. When you’re standing at the start line, it can be off putting to see how far away the finish line is, robbing you of the momentum necessary to get you there.
The interesting thing is that it’s actually more challenging for accountants to have a balanced life because of one important, very common trait that most accountants possess – seriousness. Due to the innate heaviness and gravity that accompanies accounting work, this can make it more challenging for accountants to lighten up and help the momentum needed to have a more balanced life.
While this underlying seriousness of the accounting profession might make it easier to gain the public’s trust when dealing with their finances, it also unfortunately makes it more difficult for accountants to achieve the balance they desire. Thankfully, the one piece that is missing from having a balanced life is simpler than you might think.
That one piece that is missing is actually natural for human beings, but can often be covered over with layers of expectations, education, and indoctrination. The one piece missing from having a balanced life is fun.
When you think of your role as an accountant and a mom, I’m going to take a bet that the word “fun” is not how you would initially describe it. I’m also going to assume you would probably use words like stressful, overwhelming and challenging in order to characterize what life is like balancing both an accounting career with being a mom.
But as you can witness with your own children, human beings are naturally designed to play. When you watch them playing and having fun, there’s a lack of heaviness and seriousness to what they’re doing, often creating such a momentum that they don’t want to stop playing in order to eat or sleep.
Truthfully it really is innate within you to play and have fun, but over time, you learn to take a more serious approach towards things, especially as you were educated and trained to be an accountant. When you add the seriousness of being an accountant, to the messages you probably got about the gravity of your role as a mom, it can make the ability to have fun as you try to achieve a balanced life that much more challenging.
I promise you that it doesn’t matter whether you are an accounting employee or entrepreneur, in order to have a more balanced life, you need to learn how to make the things you do, more fun for you. By learning how to step out of your adult brain every once in a while, you can access that version of you as a kid that is still available.
This week I’m going to explain the secret to what actually makes things fun and share some things you can try in order to make anything you’re doing more fun for you.
The secret to what actually makes things fun
The interesting thing when it comes to the topic of fun, is that most of us actually get it wrong. We tend to believe that things are either fun or not, falling somewhere along the spectrum of funness.
We often label things as either fun or not, as if that definitive label is just the way it is for us. For example, some of us think that roller coasters are fun, that gory movies aren’t fun, and that videogames are a waste of time, but not everyone thinks the same things about roller coasters, gory movies and videogames because those things aren’t definitively fun or not.
The truth is that the people, places and things in our lives are just neutral facts that are neither “fun” or “not fun”. The people, places and things in our lives, just ARE; we either HAVE fun or we don’t.
This may sound simplistic but it’s actually super important to understand when it comes to having a balanced life. Basically fun is an experience that you either create for yourself or you don’t; it’s not the things outside of you that are fun or not.
The reason this is so important when it comes to having a balanced life as an accountant is because this gives you all the power you need to lighten the heaviness and seriousness that keeps so many accountants from living their best life. If you’re still not convinced, then just know that the ability to have fun actually improves your productivity, your efficiency, and your ability to get more done in less time, freeing you up for other things.
The funny thing is that those cartoon representations of accountants chained to their desks, sullen and miserable, are just a satirical way to point out that while an accountant’s job is challenging, it also doesn’t have to be so heavy. The fact is that accounting work just is; what makes it so stressful and frustrating, and often creating an imbalanced life for accountants, is the seriousness that most accountant’s believe is necessary in order to get their jobs done.
Unfortunately, what often happens is that you take that seriousness that you believe is necessary at work, and you bring that with you wherever you go. Whether it’s at the grocery store, out to dinner with friends, or at home with your children, it can be challenging to turn off the seriousness switch, and to lighten up and have fun, when most of your day is spent in the heaviness of accounting work.
Of course there are certain circumstances where seriousness is necessary or situations that are much easier to have fun in, but just know that there are things you can do in order to make what you’re doing more fun, helping you to create a more balanced life. Whether it’s in your professional or personal life, having more fun is always an option.
Things to try in order to have more fun
Before I suggest some things you can try in order to have more fun, I want to be clear that I’m not saying you have to be funny. You don’t need to try to learn some jokes, have some witty comeback or change your personality; you just need to learn that what makes something fun for you is YOU, not the thing you’re doing.
Again, you either HAVE fun or you don’t which means it’s completely within your control to have fun, no matter what. And as you can see from the momentum created by your children having fun, if you want to get more things done in less time and have energy to spare, try deciding to have more fun doing them.
The first thing I suggest you do whenever possible, is work in your “fun zone”. That means working in that sweet spot where the task isn’t too hard for you, but also isn’t too easy.
The reason this is important is because if it’s too hard, you’re going to require too much of your brain’s energy, leading to overwhelm and frustration. Unfortunately, this can then lead to you doubting yourself and your abilities, often decreasing your self-confidence and making you feel like you need to prove yourself by working longer and harder, inevitably creating an imbalanced life.
The same is also true if something is too easy or too mundane because your brain gets frustrated with boredom. It needs stimulation, so when things are too easy, it can also be challenging to create a balanced life because your brain will want to buffer with distractions like social media, Netflix or a cookie.
The solution for this is to work in your “fun zone” where you make something that’s hard, easier by breaking it down into more manageable pieces, and where you make something that’s easy, more challenging. For example, you can give yourself a small reward after doing one piece of a challenging tax planning project, or you can make folding the laundry more challenging by setting a timer and trying to beat the clock.
Remember, tasks aren’t inherently fun or not; you make the experience of them fun, or not, for yourself. The truth is that things like tax season are just dates on a calendar, therefore, how you experience it is completely up to you; if you want a more balanced life, choose to have more fun no matter what you’re doing or when you’re doing it.
The second thing I suggest is to be willing to laugh at yourself more. As a working mom, you’re probably pretty hard on yourself, expecting more of yourself and then judging yourself pretty harshly when you’re not meeting your own expectations.
The truth is that we all have shortcomings, but we just think we need to hide them or we won’t be approved of or accepted. Unfortunately, when you try to hide them or justify them in some way, it can become an exhausting way to live, creating a lot of imbalance in your life.
Not only will laughing at yourself more help you as an accountant, but it will definitely help you as a mom. When you place so much pressure on yourself to do things perfectly, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice, creating more unnecessary seriousness and pressure.
The solution for this is to lighten up and laugh a little more at your imperfections. When you can notice your faults, own them and have some fun with them without beating yourself up, you actually give yourself the opportunity to do better if you want and to learn and grow.
So the next time you misplace your stapler and realize it was right in front of you the whole time, or you forget to sign that school form for your son again, lighten up and laugh. Give yourself a break and say, “There I go being human again”, allowing that humanness to create a more balanced life.
The third thing I suggest is to engage all of your senses. One of the most amazing abilities we have as human beings is to be able to engage our 5 senses in order to experience life in so many different ways.
Since you have the ability to taste, touch, smell, see and hear, the more of your senses that you can engage, the more often an experience can become more pleasurable and fun. As an accountant you’re probably so used to using your intellectual strength, but then wind up overlooking the physicality of your body.
Interestingly there have been many studies done to show that your five senses do more than just provide you with nice smells and pleasant tastes, but that they actually influence your productivity. For example, the color blue stimulates high work performance, the scent of lemon increases concentration and boosts energy, ambient noise increases creativity, dark chocolate is a natural stimulant, and natural materials like paper (versus tablet screens) boost comprehension and productivity as well.
So the solution if you’re looking to have a more balanced life, is to begin to pay attention to the fun you have with your senses. Put a beautiful blue ocean screensaver on your computer, rub some lemon essential oil on your wrists or keep a stash of dark chocolate in your desk at work as a treat because in order to have a balanced life, it’s important to step away from the mental pressure and have some fun activating more of your senses.
The fourth and final thing that I suggest is to remember to BE the fun. As a mom I’m sure you’ve asked your children numerous times “Was it fun?” when they’ve been somewhere or done something, but that assumes that IT was responsible for your child having fun or not, which means you probably assume that IT is also responsible for you having fun or not.
In order to have a more balanced life, to lighten up and lessen the seriousness that most accountants feel, you need to remind yourself that IT isn’t fun; YOU are the fun by choice. The more you look for ways to make something fun for you, the easier it will be to navigate everything you have on your plate.
The truth is that, while most accountants wouldn’t describe their work as fun, that’s exactly the point; they’re not having fun because they’re waiting for IT (the work) to be fun. Work is just work, but what makes anything fun or not is the way you choose to approach it, whether it’s year-end tax planning or cleaning the kitchen after dinner.
The solution for this is to initially go into new situations and ask yourself “How can I make this fun for me?” Once you’ve discovered how to “BE the fun” in new situations, it will be much easier to go into those typical non-fun situations and turn them around as well.
Just remember that you don’t need to have a great sense of humor or to have been the class clown in school to make things fun for you. You can make it fun by being interested in other people, by being willing to listen more than you speak, by being willing to tell the truth, or by being open to not taking things so seriously.
As you put that missing piece into your life, remember this – a balanced life isn’t a perfect life; it’s a life that accepts and embraces all the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows, and doesn’t take everything so seriously. While it’s true that not everything is supposed to be fun, it’s also true that not everything needs to be so serious either.
Start watching your children at play and let them teach you a thing or two about a well-lived, balanced life. Stop asking “How will I get this all done?” and start asking “How can I make this more fun?”
- While this underlying seriousness of the accounting profession might make it easier to gain the public’s trust when dealing with their finances, it also unfortunately makes it more difficult for accountants to achieve the balance they desire.
- The fact is that accounting work just is; what makes it so stressful and frustrating, and often creating an imbalanced life for accountants, is the seriousness that most accountant’s believe is necessary in order to get their jobs done.
- The truth is that things like tax season are just dates on a calendar, therefore, how you experience it is completely up to you; if you want a more balanced life, choose to have more fun no matter what you’re doing or when you’re doing it.
- When you place so much pressure on yourself to do things perfectly, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice, creating more unnecessary seriousness and pressure.
- As you put that missing piece into your life, remember this – a balanced life isn’t a perfect life; it’s a life that accepts and embraces all the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows, and doesn’t take everything so seriously.