How to shine – 7 questions which will help you become the standout accountant you want to be

Over the years I’ve been an accountant – about 35 now – I’ve noticed that people tend to see accountancy as a career path to earning good money. Rather than thinking, I can enjoy my job, it’s seen as a way to get financial security.

I can see how this works, but it isn’t the only way. There are so many directions you can take your career as an accountant that you don’t need to put up with doing something you don’t enjoy. When you do what you love, you work more effectively and efficiently, and as a result, you stand out in a crowd.

Before we start on the questions, there is one big question you need to ask: What do I want to do?

Stop and think for a minute. Ask yourself:

  • Do I enjoy what I’m doing?
  • Would I keep doing this if I’d won the lottery?
  • If I still need to work, what would I enjoy doing more?


If nothing comes to you, what I tend to do is leave the questions for later in the day, or even until the next day. Also, having a period – even 10 minutes of quiet reflection – can work wonders too! Maybe that means you have to get out of your office and go for a walk, sit in the garden or go to a local coffee shop with a notepad and pen.

Dig deeper by embracing who you are as a person, warts and all! You will find the process invaluable. Here’s some questions that will get you thinking.

Who am I?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you an ideas person?
  • Are you a cautious person or happy to take risks?
  • Do you thrive on a challenge or would you rather take it steady?


These questions begin to unpick the real you and from there you can start to question if your work life is suited to your personality. Have you been trying to be someone else to fit into your day job?

Once you start learning more about yourself, then you can grow into an authentic version of you! You’ll find this a lot less stressful!

It’s no good trying to please others or spending your work life doing something you hate. The way you work should also suit your personality. You shouldn’t give yourself massive goals if you’re not a risk taker and you shouldn’t try and avoid challenges if these are what you thrive on.

Why work in a job where you aren’t using your strengths? Perhaps you are a people person who is stuck in an office on spreadsheets all day, not speaking to another person until you go for a coffee break? Or maybe you love the challenge of learning new things but rarely have the chance to in your current role? If so, it is time for a change in career!

How do I work?

  • Are you happy working on your own or would you prefer to work as a team?
  • Are you a last-minute kind of person or would you prefer to get things done early?
  • Are you happy to delegate or do you feel that you need to be involved in everything at every stage?
  • Are you happy being the decision maker and being responsible?


I believe it’s crucial to know yourself so that you can work to your strengths. You can then recognise what you want to do and you’re good at and what it’s better to delegate.

I love this Dr Seuss quote!

“Today you are YOU, that is TRUER than true. There is NO ONE alive who is YOUER than YOU!”

What is my aim?

Give yourself time out from work to dig deep inside yourself and explore what you want from your life.  You may not have done this for a while, and of course you need to do this regularly as your goals in life can change. It’s interesting what comes up when you do this exercise. Notice any thoughts, insights that come to you; don’t dismiss any. You can do anything!

What do you want to happen next with your career?

 Do you want to advance or are you nearing your retirement period?

If you are about to finish work, what is your plan? Do you want to finish completely, or will you look for part time work?

How do I sabotage myself?

It’s so easy to sabotage ourselves immediately when we start to even think about setting goals, without having set any!

I hear so many times, I’d love to do this… but …

  • I don’t deserve it.
  • I want to be able to do it.
  • I couldn’t do that at school, so I’ll still be as bad now.
  • I’ll get it wrong.
  • I haven’t got enough money to do it.
  • My partner won’t like it if I do that.


Try to turn the phrase around and think about why you could do that thing you have always wanted to do.

  • I deserve it.
  • I will be able to do it.
  • I am learning every day and can gain new skills.
  • I’ll get it right if I work at it.
  • I will find the money to do it.
  • I will do what is important to me whilst still taking others into account.

How can I give myself more self-care?

It’s easy to listen to negative self-chatter. Self-care is a bit of a buzz word at the moment but that doesn’t make it any less important. Being kind to yourself in the way you act and talk will increase your wellbeing and silence that negativity.

So, ask yourself:

  1. What is the best way I can look after myself?
  2. Who is it best for me to surround myself with?
  3. What choices will improve my wellbeing?


Happiness is there for the taking if we just let ourselves do it.

I know when I was younger I’d think I’d be happier when I’d lost weight or passed my exams or got a different job. Of course, none of these made any difference to my wellbeing. It’s a case of being happy with yourself now, rather than waiting.

It’s so easy to keep putting happiness off and striving to pursue goals to make you happy instead.

You might say to yourself, I’ll be happy when I have more money, a better job, when I’m retired, when I’m living by the sea….

The striving for perfection won’t do you any good; instead, could you be more gentle with yourself by saying I’m trying my best and I’m ok as I am in this moment. Maybe you could have your own mantra to remind yourself. Being happy about who you are will help you achieve the job you want and that suits you and your unique set of skills and qualities the best.

What’s holding me back?

It’s surprising when you start to look inwards and lose any excuses that the main thing holding you back is you! I know, it’s a shocker!

It’s easy to stop yourself, maybe through fear, lack of confidence or direction. You can support any of the reasons why you can’t move forward by saying to yourself:

  • I won’t earn as much somewhere else
  • I won’t have the same variety of work
  • I’ll miss everyone at work
  • They won’t be able to manage without me


And on and on you can go….

There’ll never be a perfect time to make your move, but if you’re unhappy at work it’s a good idea to just do it. When I was working in London over 20 years ago, I knew I was both working and playing too hard. I seemed to be on a merry-go-round; until I wasn’t. I ended up being ill, going back home and having to take time off work. I was still thinking, I’d get better and go back to London. It wasn’t until a friend said to me “You don’t need to go back” that I saw the light. She’d given me an option I hadn’t considered. From that point on I gave myself permission to be less hard on myself and do what I wanted to do.

What can I do?

Let yourself go in envisaging your future. Imagine how your life could look and feel it. Visualise yourself in your current career role:

  • How do you feel?
  • What’s your first thought on waking up?
  • What’s your last thought when going to bed?
  • Are you full of energy?
  • Are you full of joy and excitement?
  • Are you worried and stressed?


Once you really feel what you are doing to yourself, you can start to make changes.

Conversely, imagine yourself in a new career role and carry out the same exercise. Note down the differences between how you feel now and how you could feel. It’s a powerful exercise, so give yourself time to just be after you’ve completed it and see which insights come to you.

It’s fantastic when you meet someone who is in a career that they love. You can be that person, so hold on to that thought and don’t stop yourself from going for it. Know that it might take time but that’s ok. You’ll get there. Good luck!

I can help you discover what your future life as an accountant could look like. Why not contact me to see how I can mentor you to find the path that’s right for you.

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