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Want to reach your peak performance? Start with your mindset.

July 16, 2021

“We have to be okay with breaking the mold of what we see a lot of in the profession. Even if that feels really uncomfortable and hard at first, we have to be willing to do the hard thing.”

As we navigate a post-pandemic life and change long-held work beliefs, it’s a great time to refocus our mindsets and create healthy habits that support our mental well-being.

Sarah Elliott, CPA, co-founder of Intend2Lead, a VSCPA Center for Innovation partner, discussed ways to reach your peak performance with VSCPA COO Maureen Dingus, CAE, in a 2021 VSCPA Leading Forward podcast episode.

CPAs face a serious threat of burnout, Sarah says. “We tie up our value and worth to our hours. And I know because I did it … for so many years.” Sarah says a focus on only billable hours not only leads to burnout but inhibits leadership because CPAs cannot perform at their peak.

So how do you tackle this challenge head on as a driven CPA to ensure you are reaching your peak performance, even in times of stress? It starts first with changing your mindset.

“Our mindset is our thought habits,” Sarah says, “And we are creatures of habits.” Our mindsets model our belief systems, which can defeat us and not allow us to make a change. To begin to change your mindset:

  • Tell yourself you are worthy of taking care of. “When we take care of ourselves and when we put ourselves first, everyone around us benefits … so it’s not selfish.”
  • Recognize your unconscious beliefs, patterns and systems that are driving toxic behaviors and not allowing you to give yourself permission to take care of yourself.
  • Once your patterns are identified, understand that you can choose something better. “We can actually begin to logically connect that when we feel better, we perform better.” In turn, everyone and everything around you will benefit.

Practical ways to change your mindset include meditating, using a mantra and journaling. However, you need to make space to connect with yourself and ensure it’s a priority. Also, working with a coach or talking with a friend about these topics can be helpful.

“The more that we bring it out of the brain where it's unconscious and into the world, around us, whether we're writing it down, or whether we're saying it to someone else over time, we truly do change the thinking patterns,” Sarah says. “We actually change the way that our brains are wired.”

Once you have begun to shift your mindset, you can incorporate new skills and practices into your daily routine that support and nourish you, whether mentally, physically, or emotionally.  This can help you move beyond time management to energy management. Time is scarce but your energy is infinite, Sarah says.

One final tip: Don’t go it alone. It’s easy to slip out of new habits without accountability, so support from teammates, family and friends is crucial. Enlisting a crew helps shift the burnout culture and collective belief systems as well. 

Want more from this interview? Listen to the full podcast or read the transcript. Find all episodes of VSCPA Leading Forward here.

Sarah Elliott, PCC, CPA, co-founded Intend2Lead, a leadership development company that coaches accountants to access the #DimensionOfPossible, with VSCPA member Brian Kush, CPA, in 2016.