Unless you know that you are owed credit or happen to find the joy of accounting appealing, the immediate and spontaneous answer to this question is probably going to be a big “no”! The majority of us have financial management firmly under the got-to-do heading. You may find totting up the figures and filling out the paperwork to be a chore, especially if your strengths lie elsewhere— in creativity, design or development for example.
Of course one solution is to find and employ someone who does know the secret to enjoying accounting. Hiring a book-keeper or financial manager frees your time to do more of the stuff you would prefer to be doing (which in my case is pretty much anything else!) If you run a business, it is the perfect swap – “I pay you to look after my accounts whilst I use my time more productively to generate more income with which to pay you“. Easy or so it seems!
But what if you don’t run a business or have the funds to pay someone else to do it for you and along comes that tax return—I guess you are lumbered with it! Now there is nothing else for it but to gird your loins, grit your teeth and get stuck in. Well that is one way of doing it! Perhaps, if we are willing to look, there may be other, more satisfying approaches.
I have run my own business for the last 10 years. For the last few, I have had a pretty amazing accountant who takes my financial data and makes it presentable in a way that meets the approval of the Inland Revenue. May I add that I love my accountant for this service. The bit that has continued to trip me up is that I still need to provide my financial data and that consists of a breakdown of Sales, Purchases and VAT. A seemingly simple task that takes a couple of days of my time each month— two days that I would prefer to be using elsewhere and which I begrudgingly, sulkily and miserably gave up to this task.
Those who know me and my philosophy of Living an Inspired Life will also know that this just won’t do. Twenty-four days a year of feeling uninspired is twenty-four days wasted as far as I am concerned. It was time to make a change! I set out on a mission to find the (extremely well disguised) joy of accounting!
Step 1 – Acceptance
Most of my suffering, I discovered came from my resistance to the task. Surprisingly, repeating the mantra “I don’t want to do this” whilst doing it does not appear to be the recipe for a joyful experience! Acceptance was my first port of call. I am holding a tax return in my hands and wanting it to be different will not make it disappear.
Step 2 – Restore choice
A powerful technique that I have used both for myself and with clients is to restablish choice in these got-to-do situations. I have been asked to complete a tax return by a certain date – that doesn’t mean I have to do it. I can choose to take the consequences of not filing it by that date (or even at all) if I want. It is likely that the discomfort of completing the tax return is less than the discomfort of the consequences so I therefore choose the first. Regaining options feels good!
Step 3 – Change the meaning
Let’s approach this from a different angle. Imagine now that I don’t have any money to manage. What is the mental movie that I run? In changing the meaning, I can reconnect to all that is good with having financial flow. I come to realise that this is a problem of success that I can live with!
Step 4 – Find the inspiration
Now that I am accepting and appreciating the value of the task, I can move to the final step of finding the inspiration. Children do this naturally when they make up games and stories to accompany the mundane tasks. How can I make this fun or challenging? My favourite game is Pit Stop Tallying. In other words, trying to balance the figures in the least amount of time complete with stop watch and stand clear signals. Perhaps it is a good thing that I don’t share my office!
These simple steps can be applied to any situation that is unappealing. When we connect to the joy of what we are doing, time goes faster and we get much more done. Don’t take my word for it—try it for yourself. And I think Pit Stop Tallying is a financial habit that could most definitely catch on!