Advice for Finding Your Professional Motivation

Having a hard time motivating yourself in your accounting job? Here are some ways you can reinvigorate yourself and your work.

Don’t believe any of the stereotypes about accountants being boring and staid number-crunchers. In fact, accountants are generally an interesting lot (which is probably why they keep showing up on your favourite television series). Many don’t actually want to do straight-up accounting; they yearn, instead, for more strategically involved work.

Yet plenty of accountants find themselves working in such positions (especially when they are fresh out of school). These nuts-and-bolts accounting jobs are often viewed as stepping stones en route to those more versatile, business-partnership accounting jobs.

And there’s the rub. While straightforward accounting work can help you build your skills in organization, numerical literacy, and risk assessment, finding your professional motivation in these kinds of roles, on a day-to-day basis, can be tough. Jobs like these require you to focus on why you’re really there. If you do find yourself growing tired or disillusioned, it’s time to assess whether you’re in the right field or industry. If not, ascertain whether you’re only there to acquire new skills before transitioning. Without understanding and self-awareness, you risk languishing in a dead-end job, or missing out on fresh opportunities, because you’ve convinced yourself to do something for the wrong reasons.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself in order to kickstart your professional drive.

What excites you? 

First thing’s first: assess whether accounting or finance is the right field for you. Once that’s been established, consider the many diverse subfields within the industry. Think about the ones that most energize you, and towards which you find yourself gravitating. Does true-blue accounting scratch all of your itches? Or do you fancy yourself an accountant who helps business executives assess the risks inherent in their big ideas, reining them in when they get too idealistic or trigger-happy?

While straightforward accounting work can help you build your skills in organization, numerical literacy, and risk assessment, finding your professional motivation in these kinds of roles, on a day-to-day basis, can be tough.

Once you know what you really like, position yourself towards it. You may not be able to go for the business partnering jobs right away. But you can at least keep yourself motivated in your current role with the prospect of getting there someday.

Are you passionate about the technical stuff? Or do you want to be a company’s sober voice of reason?

It’s a matter of preference. Some accounting folks love the technical side of the work – things like IFRS, monthly reporting and policy. Others, by contrast, feel more comfortable being a part of the finance arm of the business – managing or leading teams, vetting ideas and producing analyses.

If the hardcore technical stuff isn’t for you, you may have a hard time motivating yourself in these types of roles. In cases like these, you might have to consider moving on.

Can you incorporate more of the work you really want to do into your current role?

If you’re in a more technical accounting role, but with the idea of graduating to a more business-y position in the future, one way to stay motivated is to incorporate elements of business or finance into your current job. Understand that this may not be something that you will be able to get paid for (read: you might have to settle for doing these tasks on a volunteer-basis).

Still, expressing an interest in taking on these kinds of duties and a willingness to work on them pro bono will show your boss that you’re driven and committed to learning. It will help you, furthermore, acquire the proper skills and forge the right connections to facilitate your move in that direction.

Some accounting folks love the technical side of the work – things like IFRS, monthly reporting and policy. 

Where do you ultimately want to be? What’s your roadmap for getting there?

A huge part of professional success is understanding what you want – and then mapping out how you plan to get there. As we’ve stressed before, your dream job isn’t going to magically fall into your lap, nor will it likely be the position you land straight out of school. But by strategically taking on jobs that offer you relevant skills and connections, you can motivate yourself in any position that moves you one step closer to the place you really want to be.

A lack of professional motivation can be toxic for your career; nothing slows your momentum like indifference. It’s okay if you’re presently not where you want to be in a few years. But if your current job isn’t at least leading you towards your coveted pot of gold, professionally speaking, you may never be able to muster up the drive and enthusiasm you need to excel at your work.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!