Tag Archive for: CPA

The Wisdom of Ram Dass: Family, Enlightenment, and Holiday Realizations

The spiritual leader Ram Dass once said, “If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.” Most of us immediately know what he means. As we approach the holiday season, these words take on a deeper significance, reminding us of the complex dynamics that can emerge when we gather with our loved ones. 

Ram Dass’s quote is a playful yet profound reminder that, while we may consider ourselves to be enlightened or spiritually evolved, our interactions with family members can reveal a different side of us. 

Our families are often where we’ve experienced some of our most profound emotional experiences, both positive and negative. These experiences have left a deep imprint on our psyches, and when we come together with our families, these long-standing emotional connections can rekindle old feelings, triggers, and unresolved issues.

The holiday season, with its emphasis on tradition and togetherness, brings its own set of expectations. There’s often an unspoken pressure to have the perfect family gathering, which can lead to added stress and anxiety. These external pressures can amplify existing family tensions.

Individuals change and evolve over time, and sometimes family members may resist or not fully grasp these changes. This disconnect can lead to feelings of isolation or frustration, especially when you return home with a new perspective on life.

So, what can we take away from Ram Dass’s wisdom as we navigate the holiday season?

First, it’s essential to approach family gatherings with a sense of mindfulness and self-awareness. Recognize that these dynamics are a part of the human experience, and that it’s normal to be challenged by them. Practice self-compassion, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you find that family interactions trigger unexpected emotions or reactions.

Second, use these moments as opportunities for growth and self-reflection. Recognize that the challenges you face with your family can be a valuable mirror for personal growth. By observing your reactions and emotions, you can gain deeper insights into your own journey and continue to evolve as a person.

Finally, embrace the positive aspects of family gatherings. While there may be moments of tension, family also offers love, support, and connection. Cherish the time you have together and remember that these relationships are a significant part of your life.

In the end, Ram Dass’s quote reminds us that our families are, in many ways, our greatest teachers. They reflect the depths of our emotions, the extent of our growth, and the boundless capacity for love and connection. This holiday season, let us approach our family gatherings with an open heart, a mindful spirit, and an appreciation for the journey we all share.

December Letter: The Most Wonderland Time of the Year

What a lovely time of the year in the accounting profession.  November- a month largely devoid of pressing compliance deadlines- provided space to pause, catch one’s breath, and engage in a gratitude* practice.  Although year-end deadlines and the anticipation of busy season loom, the holiday season offers us moments to enjoy time with friends, family, and community.  The year’s end also presents an excellent opportunity to reflect on the prior year and give thought to what the next year holds for your development.

Throwback to last November and I was speaking at the AICPA Women’s’ Global Leadership Summit. The entire conference was an amazing experience and one that I highly recommend.  The speakers are informative and inspiring. More-so, I had numerous heartfelt, mind expanding conversations with fellow attendees last year. 

Not only did I consider going again this year, I planned to research event sponsorship and considered inviting my team and clients to join us.  This prospective research became an action on my to-do list- an action that was not getting done. I hemmed.  I hawed.  I spoke with our team’s Conscious Connecter, Brianna about what to do.  (Side note: Bri also serves as my executive assistant, life coach, safe place to land, and accountability partner.  I suggest you cultivate this type of relationship if you don’t have one. Every leader needs someone like this ) So why wasn’t I taking action? Because, if I was honest with myself, I actually wanted to be somewhere else.

Last year I really wanted to attend Wonderland, which is also held each November. But participating in both conferences would have meant I would be away from home for ten days or I’d have to travel between San Diego and Miami back-to-back weeks.  I won’t go that long away from my family. And at this point in my life, I am no longer willing to overexert myself with too many travel commitments.   Which reminds me of something a treasured past client recently sent….

…. ouch.

This November was momentous for me and foreshadowed what’s  to come in 2024. I was invited to speak at the Wonderland Conference on a panel discussion with Adeptus Partners – an accounting firm pioneering pathways in psychedelics.  This mind expanding conference brings a diverse community focused on mental health, longevity and psychedelics. As a huge mental health advocate, I left Wonderland feeling even more inspired by the promise of psychedelic assisted therapies. 

Just like with AICPA conferences, I went to Wonderland with a desire to draw wisdom from the sessions and make deep connections with the community.   My favorite session was on “Psychedelics and Leadership Development.” I felt affirmed by Peter Carnochan’s perspective.  When asked why leaders are turning to psychedelic assisted therapy, he stated today’s leaders are short on time and psychedelics allow you to drop in deep and quickly.  Or as noted on my bio, psychedelic assisted therapy has been the most efficient and effective inner work I have done. Fellow panelist Dr. Amy Albright blew my mind with her commentary about coaching in systems. 🗣️”Anything that’s not refined in the CEO will show up in the teams.” 🤯

Amen! I didn’t have the language to explain why I felt a knowing to shift my own practice to coaching groups of leaders instead of only doing one-off engagements. It can be counterproductive to only coach an emerging leader (aka “on partner track”). I’ve observed Coachees feel frustration when their higher-level leaders have yet to do the inner work required for a higher level of leadership performance. On that note, our coach team is currently doing the deep work with Ascension – a leadership development experience for teams. For those of you seeking guidance on this process, drop me an email and we can talk through options or check out our overview here.

Conferences are filled with big ideas but insights will only get you so far. So how am I going to integrate my experience at Wonderland? By taking action.

–   Submit my MCC application by March 30, 2024 – The master certified coach (MCC) designation is the highest certification from the International Coach Federation.  Only 4% of ICF certified coaches obtain this and I will join those ranks. Why? Old me would have done it for the ego snack.  Today’s version of self sees the value of the credibility the designation will bring. I feel the MCC will support my mission to professionalize psychedelic integration coaching.

–   Psychedelic coach training– I’ve had this on my radar for over a year now.  But I have struggled to find the right program for me. Many programs are specific to one medicine and/or they overly emphasize the psychedelic journey and minimize what happens after the experience.  In my (not so humble opinion), after the journey is where the magic happens. Alas, I may have met my tribe via the aforementioned panel. I already scheduled an information session and suspect you will read about my enrollment in the months to come.

–   Be a conduit between accounting and the business of psychedelics – According to Business Wire, “(t)he global market for psychedelic drugs reached $3.7 billion in 2021. This market is projected to reach $5.7 billion by the end of 2027.”  Wake up accounting, there is an entire market waiting to be served. I will continue to raise awareness with thought leadership, like this recent podcast with Accounting High: D.A.R.E Psychedelic After School Special. If you are able to watch (and not just listen) you can view some really wild propaganda that was fed to many of us in our youth. 🍳🍳🍳 

As you head into the holiday season, be easy on yourself.  We are told it is the most wonderful time of the year and it can be.  But it can also be really challenging.  Year-end planning creates a crunch and time with family can be magical and/or stressful.  Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Ram Dass: “If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.” 

Blessings,

Amber

* We are actually fans of a practice of gratitude.  This practice literally rewires your brain to be happier – just like psychedelics in a fraction of the time.

Want to Pass the CPA Exam? Consider Hiring a Coach

The Uniform CPA Exam is widely known as one of the most challenging professional exams, demanding dedication, extensive study hours, and a strong commitment to success. As of 2019, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy reported a pass rate of just 49.8 percent for California candidates. This means that, on average, more than half of all candidates in the state failed one or more exam sections within the past year. Failing the CPA Exam incurs not only financial costs but also takes a significant emotional toll on candidates. In this updated article, we explore how hiring a coach can make a substantial difference in CPA Exam performance and offer guidance on overcoming common obstacles.

The Emotional Impact of Failing:

CPA candidates are typically highly goal-oriented and accustomed to achieving their objectives through hard work. However, many are unaccustomed to failure and struggle to cope when it occurs. One of the first steps in coaching is to normalize the experience of failure by acknowledging that it is a common part of the journey. This is followed by helping candidates reframe the situation, encouraging them to view failure as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement. Coaches ask thought-provoking questions to help candidates identify ways they might be hindering their own progress and find opportunities to change their behaviors and enhance their results.

Managing Energy and Time:

Many CPA candidates experience exhaustion and burnout due to the demands of studying alongside work and other life responsibilities. Some candidates mistakenly believe that studying more hours will guarantee better results. While investing sufficient time in studying is crucial, it should not come at the expense of self-care. Human brains are not machines; they function optimally with adequate rest and relaxation. To manage energy effectively, candidates should incorporate renewal activities into their schedules, such as exercise, sleep, and quality time with loved ones. Recognizing that studying isn’t just about quantity but also quality is essential.

Creating a Realistic Study Schedule:

Developing a customized study schedule is a critical aspect of CPA Exam preparation. Coaches work with candidates to create schedules that balance the recommended study hours with their life commitments. Honesty is key during this process, as candidates must realistically assess what they can handle. It’s common for candidates to initially craft ambitious study plans that may not align with their actual capacities. Being accountable to the plan is equally important; coaching clients often report their study hours, allowing coaches to track progress. If candidates fall short of their goals, coaches help them explore the underlying reasons, which can range from work-related pressures to personal habits that need improvement.

Conclusion

If you’re struggling to pass the CPA Exam, rather than resorting to buying another review course or investing in additional exam sections, consider the benefits of hiring a coach. A coach can provide valuable support and guidance to help you achieve your CPA Exam goals. Beyond exam success, coaching can encourage personal growth and help you become the best version of yourself in both your professional and personal life. Don’t let the CPA Exam stand in your way—consider hiring a coach today.

Navigating Mental Well-Being in the CPA Profession: A Guide to Seeking Help

The demanding world of accounting often comes with its own set of unique challenges, which can have a profound impact on the mental well-being of professionals in the field. In a recent episode of the Journal of Accountancy Podcast, senior editor Courtney Vien engaged in an insightful conversation with certified executive coach Amber Setter, shedding light on the critical topic of mental health for CPAs. In this blog post, we’ll delve into some key takeaways from their discussion, exploring the nuances of mental well-being in the CPA profession and how individuals can seek the help they might need.

Amber Setter, an experienced accountant who has made the transition to a certified executive coach, delivers “transformational coaching.” The results of her coaching engagements are more than the achievement of external goals.This approach empowers accountants to gain a deeper understanding of who they are, what drives their performance, and what they truly long to do with their life.. .. Setter emphasizes a crucial point – professional success doesn’t always equate to personal fulfillment.

It’s vital to distinguish between coaching and therapy, as they serve distinct purposes. Coaching is centered on the present and future, aiding individuals in setting and attaining their goals. In contrast, therapy often delves into past experiences to address current challenges. Amber r advises that it’s important to engage an accredited coach who can discern when a client may require therapy, thereby ensuring they receive the most appropriate form of support tailored to their specific needs.

Setter offers invaluable insights into recognizing burnout, likening it to a smartphone with a rapidly draining battery. You can see when your phone has 10% charge left; but do you know how it feels for you when your energy is running that low? Signs of burnout can manifest in various ways, including reduced focus, alterations in eating patterns, heightened anxiety, and even physical symptoms such as shortness of breath or panic attacks. Recognizing these signs is crucial, as they serve as a clear indicator that intervention and support are needed.

A prevalent issue in the accounting profession is the reluctance to seek help, often driven by misconceptions. Some CPAs may be oblivious to the necessity of seeking assistance, viewing it as a sign of weakness, or believing they simply don’t have the time for it. Alas, if only therapy sessions were deemed to be a billable activity. Setter takes it upon herself to dismantle these misconceptions, highlighting the profoundly positive impact that seeking help can have on both personal well-being and professional effectiveness. Anxiety takes up the space that could be held by intellect.

In the world of accounting, one’s well-being is an indispensable aspect. By recognizing the telltale signs of burnout, offering support to colleagues, and embracing the idea of seeking help when necessary, CPAs can achieve both personal and professional success. It’s important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness; rather, it’s a courageous step towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

We wholeheartedly encourage everyone in the accounting profession to prioritize their mental well-health. Your health matters, and seeking support can make all the difference in ensuring a long and prosperous career in this demanding field.

Beyond the Books: Elevating Your CPA Exam Performance with Holistic Strategies

Embarking on the journey to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is more than just an intellectual endeavor. It’s a transformative path that challenges you intellectually, emotionally, and even spiritually. In your quest to ace the CPA exam, consider these three non-traditional approaches that promise to enhance your performance.They may even bring a touch of happiness to your journey.

Understanding Your “Why”: Unveiling Personal Motivation

In the quest for success, it’s vital to start by understanding your “why.” Why do you aspire to become a CPA? Is it a professor’s advice, parental expectations, or required by your employer for career progression? Dig deeper. Each candidate’s journey is unique, and the CPA designation should align with your personal aspirations. What will achieving this designation bring to your life? Whether it’s financial security, a sense of accomplishment, or the ability to make an impact on society, grasping the true significance of your goal will imbue your efforts with purpose and determination. This emotional fuel will empower you to weather any challenges and enhance your overall experience along the way.

Taking Breaks: The Counterintuitive Catalyst for Success

In a world that glorifies non-stop productivity, the idea of incorporating planned breaks into your study routine might seem counterintuitive. However, neuroscience tells a different story. The human brain isn’t designed for continuous, unrelenting critical thinking. To optimize cognitive performance, breaks are imperative. Delve into the paradox of productivity – taking breaks actually increases efficiency and retention. Integrate scheduled breaks into your study plan. Whether it’s a weekly yoga session, a leisurely movie, or a gathering with friends, these pauses offer your brain a chance to rejuvenate, fostering clarity and focus when you return to your studies. By setting a rhythm of work and rest, you enhance your cognitive abilities and embrace a sustainable approach to success.

Nature’s Connection: A Digital Detox for Enhanced Well-being

The digital age immerses us in screens and information overload, leaving little room for reflection and connection with the natural world. Incorporating moments of nature into your CPA exam journey offers profound benefits. Whether you find solace in a forest or draw inspiration from mountains or the sea, nature offers a respite from the constant barrage of digital stimuli. Stepping away from screens allows your brain to recharge and engage in introspection. Beyond the cognitive benefits, nature provides an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and the world around you. It can even spark a sense of spirituality or connection to something greater than oneself, enriching your journey on a holistic level.

Conclusion: A Balanced Path to CPA Exam Success

The CPA exam journey is multifaceted, encompassing intellectual rigor, emotional resilience, and personal growth. To excel beyond the confines of traditional studying, incorporate these holistic strategies into your approach. Understand your personal “why,” infusing purpose into your pursuit. Embrace planned breaks to fuel productivity and clarity, and escape to nature to recharge and reconnect. Remember, success on the CPA exam is not solely about mastering technical content; it’s about nurturing your whole self to perform at your best.

Good luck, and may your journey be as rewarding as the destination.