I still hold an out-of-state CPA license. As such, 80 hours of continuing education is required by year-end. Yet, I have had little desire to fulfill that responsibility since moving to Hawaii. My priorities have shifted and any ambition for business has all but evaporated. I thoroughly enjoyed my job as an accountant: organizing papers, problem solving business dilemmas and advising clients. Even deadlines gave me a thrill.
How did I get from there, an ambitious business woman, to where I am today? The exact opposite. A natural, plant loving, simple living minimalist who would love to exist with as little money as possible. Instead of reading the Journal of Accountancy and Wall Street Journal, I enjoy reading blogs like The Minimalist and Becoming Minimalist.
Ambition vs. Priorities
To some degree I think it stems from a realization of burnout. Burnout due to the lack of balance that existed in my mind and body. I created a very complicated life that I had convinced myself I wanted. As time went by, slowly I realized the element of imbalance, especially as it abruptly took a toll on my health. I didn’t know how to slow down. I didn’t know how to relax. When my first child was born, I reluctantly felt the need to slow down. I wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready though. So I struggled for years with the desire to be a mom and the desire to succeed in running my accounting firm.
My firm was successful. Some clients I worked with for 20+ years. The successes were not without constant demands. Demands on my time and attention. As the client’s businesses grew, my time on their accounts grew. I wasn’t able to be present with my family physically as much as I wanted. When I was with them I wasn’t mentally present, struggling with turning off the work in my mind.
Learn To Slow Down
In 2009, when my mother began showing advancing signs of illness the guilt I felt from ambition became even more pressing. I was chained to a large client base full of government imposed deadlines. Each deadline held serious consequences if I neglected the responsibilities entrusted to me. I wanted to be with my mother more as she was declining in health. I employed family members in my office who took off time to care for her. Yet, there was no one else for me to rely on to fulfill the load of deadlines I had imposed upon myself.
After her death, my father said something to me that I’ll never forget,“If you don’t learn to slow down, if you don’t learn to rest and sit still, you’re going to become just like your mother.”
He reminded me of the true cost of ambition. I couldn’t expect to keep the constant pace and it not take a toll on my body.
And he couldn’t have been more right.