New Year's Resolutions

By Susan Amaral, EA

A New Year, a new tax season, is here! At this point, unless you are a new tax professional, you know the drill: you set goals or specific procedures to run a smooth season, and stick to it for a few weeks until all hell breaks loose! US News & World Report found that roughly 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. In our world of taxation, that can easily equate to the end of March when many of us revert to old bad habits!

That doesn’t mean we are all doomed! It may indicate the time to be realistic. Set your sights on targets that are within your reach, such as defining the number of new clients you’re willing to accept, or improving your nutrition for better mental health. Beware of biting off more than you can chew.

To help increase your rate of achievement this year, you may want to consider these six resolutions suitable for any industry and experience level.

  1. Create a work-life balance: If you’re miserable at the office, your career (or achievements) can stall out. As tax professionals, we often cram during this season, assuming a slowdown come spring, giving us time for vacations, family, and fun. Many of us thrive on the work during our busy season so much that we somehow want to keep the busy pace that gives us this sense of purpose past the filing deadline. We continue the pace year-round by filling our calendars with leadership roles, speaking engagements and other hats Enrolled Agents often wear. The idea is to work hard, but don’t wear yourself out. Carve out time for friends, family, and fun by adding time to your calendar during and after tax season. By all means, don’t forget to add exercise to the “fun” chore list!
  2. Be a better communicator: Return emails and calls promptly, letting co-workers, clients, and family know what you’re up to, and asking them where they are with their own agendas, or goals for the year. You may become better liked by those around you simply by communicating. Talk to people, let them know what works for you, and when you’ll be unavailable so they’re not left hanging.
  3. Pay attention: If you’ve been doing the same thing, using the same processes for a while, chances are you’re doing them wrong! It’s easy to let yourself coast by saying “we’ve always done it this way.” This is an easy way to let your skills development fall by the wayside. Learning how to think differently may take some initiative. Treat every workday like a school day; adopt a growth mindset with the intention to learn something new each day. It doesn’t have to be tax related, but it should be something that keeps your brain learning!  
  4. Stretch your role: Stepping outside your comfort zone to take on new responsibilities will gain you experience you need to climb the ranks of life, work life included. Showing this type of initiative will make you more valuable to your employer, and more importantly, to yourself. Come up with your own ideas and work with your team to implement them.
  5. Pick projects with maximum impact: Making noticeable contributions on big projects can be an effective way to gain visibility within your company or group. Find out what high profile projects are in the works this year, and ask if there are opportunities for you to contribute. Perhaps you can suggest your own big project that will strengthen your organization.  This may add on to your resolution #4 of stretching your role by stepping outside your comfort zone.
  6. Be open to outside opportunities: Consider all opportunities that may come across your desk even if they don’t seem like a good fit. You risk nothing by applying for jobs that seem like a like a good fit, but we often rule out certain roles that can change our lives for the better. Whether or not you’re happy at your job, you should keep your mind open to all opportunities that promote growth.