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Professional New Year’s Resolutions

2017 goal setting“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As a CPA, commitment to lifelong learning is a key to your continued success. To ensure you are meeting both your goals and CPE requirements, it is crucial to spend time planning how you will build not only your technical competence, but also your networking and people skills.

What works for me is setting New Year’s resolutions for my career every year. I start by assessing my development needs and setting my goals.

Try these questions to get started:

  • Are there skills I need to strengthen?
  • Are there gaps in my knowledge?
  • Do I want to provide new services to my clients?
  • Is there a certificate or a credential I want to add to my professional profile?
  • What do I want to achieve in 2017?
After identifying areas for growth, there are a few more questions:
  • Are my plans for the coming year aligned with my long-term goals?
  • Where would I like to be in three years? Or five years?

Once you determine how to focus your efforts, you will need to explore available opportunities and create a plan. Some questions to consider when developing a plan include:

  • Would an on-demand course or a webcast meet your needs?
  • Are there articles and books you should read?
  • Any podcasts that you could listen to on your morning commute?
  • Is there a conference that will help you gain technical knowledge and expand your network?

Challenge yourself to look for ways to get out of your comfort zone and not simply play to your strengths.

Next, ask yourself, “How do I assess the wide variety of options?”

Of course, your top concern is quality, but cost also may factor into your decision, as well as the time required to complete a course or earn a certificate. Where you learn is another consideration.

For some learners, an online course provides flexibility, yet others thrive in a traditional classroom setting where they can interact with peers. Think back on your experiences and note what worked best. Let that self-awareness guide your decision-making process. As you consider options, also remember the value of developing your staff, leadership and business acumen skills. They help grow your network, contribute to your professional development and enable you to expand your business.

Conferences are an excellent way to work on your essential skills and expand your network, while keeping you up to date on developments in the profession and your specialization. They also get you out of your routine, which can spur your creativity and renew your energy. Hearing the latest from thought leaders and industry experts, and engaging with your peers is a great learning experience. You might even have fun in the process.

Well-designed conferences curate the best content for you, expose you to new ideas, keep you on top of industry trends and allow you to engage in a variety of interesting activities. Some conference events combine multiple smaller conferences under one roof, allowing you to sit in on sessions outside your specialization. Maybe you want to learn more about financial planning to provide your tax clients with a more holistic approach. Or perhaps you want to know more about how to market your practice and services.

Learning and development also takes place in less formal settings. Maybe you want to join the board of a not-for-profit or a networking group. Perhaps you want to give back to the profession through mentoring and strengthen your ability to work with another generation. Have you thought about offering your skills pro bono to a cause you care about or a startup? Pro-bono work can sharpen your skills and even lead to new clients. Or perhaps you need to shore up your public speaking skills and joining Toastmasters would provide valuable feedback.

Whichever activities you choose, remember that your career development is a long-term investment. It requires time and effort. By writing down your plan, you are acknowledging your commitment to yourself and your career. Track your progress throughout the year to keep yourself motivated, and next December, revisit that plan and celebrate your achievements.

AICPA ENGAGE presents thought leaders, technical specialists, entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers for four days of fresh ideas, breakthrough presentations and workshops to open up possibilities for your members. It features inspiring keynote speakers who will share diverse perspectives on topics ranging from business acumen to creativity to Millennials.

Clar Rosso, Vice President-Member Learning and Competency, AICPA.

2017 goal setting courtesy of Shutterstock.

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