Valentine's Day is right around the corner, which seemed appropriate timing to remind CPA Candidates that your loved ones still want to feel connected with you. We know the demands of studying, busy season, and just life, in general, can make that challenging. So, what can you do to make sure you set the right expectations with your spouse, children, or other loved ones, while also receiving the support you need from them?
You have to make sacrifices, but you do not have to sacrifice your relationships to reach your CPA Exam goals!
The number one piece of advice we can give is to communicate; it is nearly impossible to over-emphasize this point, just as it's almost impossible to over-communicate. Communicate about your expectations and listen to your family's concerns and needs. If you aren't talking, then the chances are that one of you is feeling disgruntled with how things are going.
Set up a time to communicate when the conversation has the most potential to go smoothly. Watch out for HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired): it is never ideal to have a conversation when people are feeling this way! Our pre-frontal cortex is not on its best behavior in those scenarios, and communications can turn ugly or veer off-course.
Discuss expectations regarding your CPA Exam studying with your family. For example, communicate that
- at certain times you will be unavailable, except for emergencies, even when you are studying at home.
- you will be spending more time at the office to get focused study time.
- the week before each Exam will require additional review time.
Remind them that this is only for a short time; show them your timeline for passing to help them see an end in sight. Allow your loved ones to celebrate with you and let them know you'll take a few days off in between each Exam to give them undivided attention. Also, tell them that if you fail a section of the Exam your timeline will be set back. By communicating these scenarios, you'll prepare them for any possibility.
Share Dreams; Listen Well; Admit Mistakes
Try to get your family on board with the CPA Certification by sharing with them your career dreams, the opportunity for growth potentials, such as the expected raise or promotion.
Listen and listen well. We don't know what your family members are thinking. We don't know if they need to feel heard or if they will ask you to make some changes for them, but be open. Be open to discussing how you can love and serve your family well, including changes you could make. You know, in the long run, you'll still have a family, not just a CPA license!
Be willing to admit that maybe you haven't managed your time and study habits perfectly in the past. Have you backed out on promises to family and friends? Have you studied on the couch with your family around and then gotten angry for noise and distractions? Have you neglected your significant other, but made time to watch sports and go to the bar? These actions can be hurtful and destroy trust, so be willing to admit your mistakes.
Explain to your family how they can best support you in this season, such as:
- allowing you focused time to learn
- not complaining or making fun of the amount of time you are spending studying
- working together to set up systems for cleaning, meal prep, carpool, and other commitments. FYI: We are not suggesting that studying for the CPA Exams should get you out of all your chores (maybe if it did, you'd never want to finish your Exams!). But, we are suggesting discussing who will be handling each household task to make your home function smoothly. Most American households are full of busy people, all juggling commitments, so please do not dump everything on your significant other.
Don't forget to support your significant other's endeavors, too. You might need to make sacrifices so that your loved one can dedicate time to their career pursuits.
Keep It Up
We have made a big deal about communication, but remember, this is not a one-time conversation. It's a good idea to have a full talk upfront when starting on the CPA journey. Still, please continue to communicate along the way – open communication goes a long way towards everyone feeling heard and having fulfilled needs.
Aside from communication, go on dates, or buy a special gift, or plan a small surprise. We all know actions speak louder than words, so think about your actions and evaluate if they are speaking love or not. Above all, make sure your loved ones know you are still there for them and that they are your top priority. More than anything else, they probably want to know you haven't forgotten them – and Valentine's Day shouldn't be the only day they are reminded of that.
Roses are red; violets are blue
Take a study break to say, "I love you!"