What Was I Doing!

In June 1999 I started a new job with a mixture of emotions.

Excited about the opportunity the new job offered, and terrified that I was out of my depth (imposter syndrome popping up again).

However, I was determined to make it a success. I was prepared to do what was needed (the ‘D’ element of my disc profile coming out here). Head down and just get on with it – make it happen.

For the first 2 months I worked 60+ hour weeks.

The practice of the business was for month end reporting to be completed 3 days after the end of the month; this was a group of three trading companies with a holding company, and the holding company was a subsidiary of a FTSE 250 PLC.

The individual trading companies reporting deadlines were determined by working back from the Group Board Meeting.

Three months into my new job – and to fit in with the group timetable – month end reporting had to be completed a day before month end…

Ok, no problem, just have plenty of provisions in the accounts I thought.

But, a new budget had just been prepared for one of the company’s main projects and the month end reports had to reflect this new budget.

I received the budget the day before the month end reports were due – at 9am.

What happened next is something I am still embarrassed about, almost 20 years later.

Instead of being sensible and arranging for an extension to get the work completed, I worked until 3am ensuring all the reporting was completed. I then drove 40 miles home, slept for 2 hours.

I got up and was back at the office at 7am to print the reports, check, amend and re-print, and prepare for the 9am meeting.

Which went fine.

I then sat through a 6-hour management meeting before leaving for home at 8pm.

What was I thinking!!! How is that normal, how is that acceptable!!!

Because I was so determined to succeed in my new job, I was prepared to work all the hours necessary to be ‘successful’.

Although I never worked this late again (plenty of 15-hour days though), this ‘approach’ to work was consistent for the next 3 years. I refused to accept that I’d miss a reporting deadline and often said yes to delivering work by a certain date as I saw it as a challenge.

And I suppose I wanted the praise and thanks that would come with it.

I compare that to where I am now, and it is a million miles away.

Today I took my children to school, went for a swim, started work at 10.30am, stopped at 3pm to take my youngest daughter ice skating. Then finished off some work later that evening, finishing about 10pm.

Yes, a late finish but not a long working day. Six hours work at the most.

Now, I have a far better idea now of what my priorities are…

And they’re not work.

What made the difference?

I think it was the realisation that what is really important to me is what I achieve personally, not just in business.

Now I haven’t perfected this in any way and there are times when I work more hours than I’d like, but that is an exception rather than the norm. I now genuinely enjoy the work I do.

Making sure I see my children grow up is far more important than making sure a board report is prepared on time.

It took me almost 20 years to really appreciate this.

Lets make sure it doesn’t take you this long.

If you’re ready to start or are already running your own accountancy practice, here are 5 ways I can help you run the practice you want, the way you want:

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