One quote that I discuss in my new Success book (but that comes from another person) was said by the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. In that particular chapter of the Success book, I write about the fact that we often try to make things in life too complicated and that attitude holds us back. Keeping things as simple as possible is usually the best strategy.
Coach Lombardi said: “Some people try to find things in this game that don't exist but football is only two things—blocking and tackling.”
So, in today’s lesson, as you look forward to a brand new year, I want you to think about success on the CPA Exam (or whatever you seek to accomplish during 2014) and try to narrow that success down to just two words. Let’s keep things truly simple. I want passing the CPA Exam to become a simpler task for you. I want success to become simpler. I think that focusing the whole process on just two words might help you to get more comfortable with the preparation that you need to do if you are going to succeed.
What would your two words be if I asked you to describe “Success on the CPA Exam” in just two words?
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this question and here are some of the words that I considered. They are all extremely important but I didn’t think they were the MOST important.
--Confidence. It is quite difficult to succeed at anything in life unless you truly believe in yourself. Confidence on the CPA Exam is essential. When you study, and when you take the exam, you have to have confidence in yourself or you won’t have the courage to do the work necessary and to fight for every possible point. Believe in yourself. Always great advice.
--Concentration. Too many people, as they study and when they take the exam, let their minds wander all over the place. That makes you very inefficient. You cannot do that. The exam is just too challenging. It requires100 percent of your attention. When you sit down to answer questions, whether for practice or for real, you have to focus obsessively on each one. I always tell candidates to assume that the question they are currently working on is the very one that is going to make the difference between 74 and 75. If that were true, then you would study every word of that question thoroughly. Okay, assume it is true because you need that degree of concentration to maximize your points on the CPA Exam.
--Careful. I have given tests in college for 43 years now. I am always amazed by how many points students throw away simply by not being careful. People write into us all the time to suggest that we have an answer wrong at CPA Review for Free. Almost 100 percent of the time, those candidates have read a question and simply missed the word “Not.” For example, “which of the following is Not a requirement for a capital lease?” Unless you are careful, you can easily read the question as “which of the following Is a requirement for a capital lease?” That lack of care will cost you vital points. You know the material and still miss the question. Don’t let it happen to you.
Yes, those are three great words but they would not be in my final two words if I were describing success on the CPA Exam. Here are the two words that I think are most important. If you have these two words under control, your chances for success on the CPA Exam go way up. Heck, your chance of success in any endeavor will go way up.
--Time – Nothing in life can replace the proper use of time. I have written about that over and over during the years. If you are unwilling to put in the time, you are not going to be successful. Just a matter of fact. For each part of the CPA Exam, I recommend 60-100 hours. That doesn’t guarantee success but it does stack the odds in your favor. As we get to the start of a new year, keep that in mind. Short cuts and magic wands do not work. You have to be willing to put in the time. That can be difficult because we are all very busy people. There is always something in our lives that wants to divert the good use of those hours we have each day. Get control of your time in 2014 and you will be more successful. Waste those hours and success becomes darn hard.
--Perseverance – We all want success to come easily. We want to take a secret pill so that, poof, we will become successful. It just doesn’t work like that. No one can tell you how long success will take. For some, it is weeks while for others it is months. That might not seem fair but it is the way life works. Most people fail because they give up rather than persevere. Quitting is one of the easiest things anyone ever does. Before you take off on a challenge like the CPA Exam, you need to ask yourself if you have the perseverance necessary to fight through failure. If you are going to hit a bump and give up, you might be better off not to take on the challenge in the first place. Most victories that are worth the battle are going to put you face to face with failure. Success only comes to those who can run into that failure and keep going. You can do it. You can make success happen. But you need to remember that every person does well when things are going well. Only the winners really do well when things get tough. Persevere.