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Going All In

By Garrett Wagner, CPA

As we reflect back on the end of another busy season of the accounting industry, we are left as always to reflect back on one simple question. Why is busy season always so hard? No matter what happens... software issues, tax law changes, late information, uncooperative clients, unreasonable deadlines, nothing changes.


Busy season is just hard. It feels like we are facing an uphill battle each year and while marching uphill we often think about what we should have done differently, but in the blink of an eye another busy season is upon us and nothing has changed. How do we break this cycle and stop making busy season be so hard and exhausting and instead finally conquer it once and for all.


The answer lies in first understanding our goal. If we want to not just survive another busy season or make small changes, but to conquer it then it is time to take the plunge and make change happen for you, your firm, and your organization. In order to actually change this cycle, we cannot just think about doing things differently, we cannot make one small adjustment, like using a different color pencil, our only option if we want to conquer busy season 2020 is to commit and go all out and drive this change.


We cannot afford to take the same path as before, we know the outcome of that. We need to fully commit ourselves, our organization, and our time.


But, before we make change happen, we need to understand, what is holding us back and understand how the millennial minds insight can help drive this change.


When we look at the issue, we see three main trends that hold accountants back from making lasting change happen. It starts with everyone’s favorite reason, procrastination. That is right, as human beings we all get caught up in the trapping of procrastination and putting off what can be done today for tomorrow. We think about making change happen and maybe we even talk about it, but we just keep putting it off another day, week, month and then before we know it, it is December and time to start things up again. If we can move past the lure of procrastination, we are often faced with the second even more challenging hurdle, SALY.


No SALY, is not a co-worker or the newest artificial intelligence computer program, SALY or same as last year is a phrase that we all love to use. It is not just something we write down on workpapers, it is an attitude that our industry has embraced to our detriment. Why do anything different when you can just keep everything SALY? Nothing changes because SALY isn’t really a fan of change.


Finally, if we can overcome our desire to procrastinate and then conquer SALY, we are caught up in the third and final challenge, we are just busy being busy. Notice, I did not say busy executing our organization's vision, nor adding value to our clients, or improving our organization, we are simply busy being busy. We get caught up in the constant movement of deadline’s in our industry, be those monthly closings or different tax filing deadlines, they all serve to keep us busy just being busy. We need to take a step back and look at what we do with our time and recognize that to make change happen, we need to dedicate our time and energy to it.


Change cannot happen be accomplished in the last few days of December, change needs to happen everyday through your commitment to it. Go all in on change.

Now if we are going to avoid the post busy season let down, we need to break the cycle and do things differently for once and take a page from the millennial mind in our approach.


A major millennial trait is having an entrepreneurial mindset, which translates into being more willing and open to taking risks and making changes happen in their lives. Millennials are willing to make changes happen by going all in and not just thinking about doing things differently, but actually doing things differently. Just think about how many jobs a typical millennial will have by the age of 40, that number can only come about with an ability to look past our dear friend SALY. Take a page from the entrepreneurial mindset of the millennial generations and overcome procrastination, SALY, and being busy, by simply going all in on making change happen.


Because, if we have any hope in breaking the cycle, that means we need to commit 100% to making that change happen. Think about what your real underlying pain point is and go all in on a solution. Be that automation of your monthly closing process, or be that taking steps to improve your firm, by finally going lean with your tax process. Whatever it is, the time is now to get started. We cannot make change happen by sitting on the sideline or thinking about it. We need to take that scary step and seek to drive real change in the world and our lives and go all out.


If the idea of going all in, makes you feel uncomfortable, that is okay, acknowledgement is a great first step. As accountants we tend to be black and white thinkers and our options in this case are clear. We can listen to SALY and if we do, we know what busy season 2020 will hold for us, the exact same as everyone that came before it. Or, we can go all in on making change happen and get a different result and finally finish a busy season on a high note.


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