Tips for Success - Part 4

The following are Tips in a series from Joe Hoyle, co-founder of CPA review for Free: a series from Joe Hoyle, co-founder of CPA review for Free:

(16)– Yesterday, I received an email from a former student and I thought her sentiment was worth sharing: “I am more grateful now than ever that the CPA exam is behind me – can’t imagine going home from work to squeeze in studying hours. I remember one of your CPA review for Free emails encouraged us to make this year the year we could say that we passed the CPA exam. That motivation stuck with me while I was studying and as the year comes to a close, I am so happy that this has become a true statement.”

Okay, I want to challenge you (yes, YOU), right here, today, to make a commitment to yourself that the next 12 months is going to be the year when you finish off the CPA exam. You are going to get it done. One year from today, I want you to be able to write me and say “I am more grateful now than ever that the CPA exam is behind me.” Yes, it is going to take work and it is going to take sacrifice and you’ll have to have some serious self-discipline. But, the way you start to achieve this success is to make that commitment and set that goal. Do it!! Today!! Right now!!

(17)- One of the problems with studying to pass the CPA Exam is that it can be kind of a lonely adventure. Most of your friends and family want to help but they really do not know how. Explain to them that you could really use their support. Explain how much you want to pass and how much time and energy it requires. Explain how important it is to your career.(It’s not a bad idea to tell them that the pass rate is 50 percent so they’ll understand the challenge of passing.)

Then, tell each person exactly how you would like for them to help: “drag me to a movie once a month so I can relax,” “send me an encouraging email once a week, ”remind me occasionally why I want to pass,” “take me out to lunch or dinner every few weeks and make me laugh,” “ask me every Friday how many hours I’ve worked this week.” Most people are wonderful about being helpful if you will tell them what you need.

However, often, these folks will worry about bothering you so they just leave you alone. I’m not sure that too much loneliness is helpful. Work with the people around you to create a support group. I think you’ll find that most people will be glad to help and that makes the process much easier to bear.

(18)- If you ask candidates what their goal is, they will invariably say “my goal is to pass the CPA Exam. “That is not my preference for a goal because it is too broad and vague to be very helpful. It is too far into the future. I much prefer for a candidate to say “my goal TODAY is to pass accounts receivable” (or qualified opinions or contract law or whatever other topic is being studied). That is a concrete goal that I can easily understand and work on right now today. That is a goal that ties in directly with what I’m doing now.

There is an old Zen saying that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I believe candidates should focus their entire attention on every single step and pay no attention to the 1,000 miles. First, you learn to pass accounts receivable and then you learn to pass inventory and then you learn bonds and before you know you are able to pass the entire CPA Exam. In live classes, I tell candidates “if you learn to pass each individual topic, the CPA Exam will take care of itself. “No attention to the 1,000 miles. First, you learn to pass accounts receivable and then you learn to pass inventory and then you learn bonds and before you know you are able to pass the entire CPA Exam.

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself “my one goal is to learn enough today to pass (fill in the topic).” Then, at night, ask yourself “did I achieve my goal?” Not a bad approach to preparing to pass the CPA Exam.

(19)– In my weekly email lessons, I often speak of the importance of perseverance. Anyone can study, now and then, when they feel like it. That’s no stretch. Only the winners manage to keep going on and on when they really don’t feel like it. Kind of like the Energizer Bunny on the television commercials.

I once heard a wonderful quote from a politician: “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.

I like that one.

So, try an experiment. Whenever you study, work as hard as you can. Eventually, you are going to say to yourself: “I am thoroughly sick of doing this stuff.” Don’t say it until you really feel it. At that moment, write down the time. Then see how long you can keep studying AFTER that moment. Is it two more minutes or another hour and a half? You can literally measure your level of perseverance in this way. As the days go by, see how long you can stretch “the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” I think, over time, you’ll be proud to see that you really can get an amazing amount of work done even after you are thoroughly sick of studying.

(Break time – Anyone can be nice to friends. Strength comes from being nice to strangers or people that you really don’t like. Send an encouraging word today to someone who is neither a friend or a relative,) be nice to friends. Strength comes from being nice to strangers or people that you really don’t like.

(20)- When I give a three-hour final exam at school, the students tend to do well the first hour, fair the second hour, and poor the third hour. They don’t get dumber along the way. They just get a little tired and lose their ability to concentrate. The test is extremely important to them, but they can’t even start strong for 3 hours. It is not easy to stay focused.

When you take the CPA Exam, you need to be as strong at the end of the day as you were at the beginning. Every 30 minutes, stop for one minute and focus on recharging your batteries. Mentally run a fast song through your brain to get your adrenaline pumped back up. Stand and stretch and think about feeling strong, alert, and excited to be in the game. You need to be as strong at the end of the day as you were at the beginning.

Taking that minute off every 30 minutes may worry you (“I’m wasting time”) but I’m convinced that it helps you stay at your very best for the entire exam. Not a bad idea also when you are studying. Humans (you are not a robot) accomplish more in 29 minutes of work with a one-minute break than they do in 30 minutes with no break. Helps you stay at your very best for the entire exam. Not a bad idea also when you are studying.

See Tips for Success--Part 5

You can do it!

Joe

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