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4 ways to jumpstart the career you really want

GettyImages-180409192Some career paths move in a straight line. Others take twists and turns. Opportunities sometimes crop up when we least expect them, and we have to weigh the pros and cons to determine our next steps. If you were asked ten years ago to accurately describe your career path over the next decade, could you? I know I couldn’t.

I started my career at a large firm in audit and now I’m on an entirely different path that I would have never predicted. The winding road that led me to where I am today was built upon a series of experiences and intentional decisions along the way. Could your career course use more direction? Here are some tips to get on track, based on my own personal experiences throughout my career:

  1. Keep your options open. Try getting a feel for a number of different practice areas early on in your career. As you try new things, ask yourself: does this work feel fulfilling? Am I enjoying it? I started my career at a Big Four firm, which exposed me to many different areas of public accounting. I realized that if I wanted to experience a different side of the business, I had to speak up. I quickly learned what excited me – and what didn’t.
  1. Follow what fascinates you. Find your passion. To help you find it, consider what topics you can’t stop reading or talking about. I found my passion unexpectedly. During the early years, my friends and family often came to me with tax and personal finance questions, assuming that as a CPA, I could be a resource to them. Up to that point, my work experience had been on the audit side, but my interest was piqued. As I researched solutions for their questions, I became more interested in the information I was reading. This ultimately led me to leave the large firm for a regional tax firm, where I worked in tax compliance and planning for affluent individuals and closely held businesses.
  1. Expand your horizons. Once you find your passion, don’t stop there. Continue learning. Whether it's going to conferences, pursuing credentials or learning new skills that compliment your career. While my tax work was rewarding and extremely important, I began learning that tax planning was the jumping off point, and I wanted to help clients with more. So I joined an independent financial planning firm and learned as much as I could about planning services– ranging from tax and estate to retirement, investment and insurance planning. I also got certified through the AICPA’s CPA/PFS credential program.
  1. Be courageous enough to take risks, and enjoy the rewards. I know it is easy to stick with what you know, but paying attention to your interests and steering your career accordingly will leave you feeling more fulfilled. A little over a year ago, I founded my own independent financial planning firm. Taking this leap has been the most intimidating and exciting decision in my career journey.


These diverse experiences led me to recognize great opportunity and personal satisfaction. I created a practice where I focus first on my client’s goals and aspirations and then develop financial recommendations to meet them. I wanted to partner with clients to help them build meaningful and purposeful lives, and use the knowledge and experience I had acquired along the way to create customized and collaborative solutions.

While the risks of starting something from scratch were daunting, the rewards have been immeasurable. I’ve had the freedom to create not only a career, but a firm that is founded on my values and principles – balance, growth, freedom and integrity.

Where do you find yourself on your career path? Are you satisfied in your chosen field? What excites you? Look around at those in your field and observe what makes them successful and satisfied, find a mentor, experiment in different practice areas and business models, invest in yourself, be bold enough to take risks, and most of all, enjoy the journey.

Join me at the ENGAGE Conference, June 9-14 in Las Vegas, NV or online. I will be leading a session on making intentional career choices on June 12 at 4:05 p.m. PT.  Additionally, be sure to check out the new Planning & Tax Advisory Services hub site on aicpa.org for helpful tools, learning opportunities and more.

Mark Astrinos, CPA/PFS, Principal and Founder, Libra Wealth. Mark works with clients across the country to design the life they want by integrating their financial resources and human capital. Drawing on his tax and business background, he focuses not only on creating wealth, but finding a healthy balance between money and life. Mark is a 2017 graduate of the AICPA Leadership Academy.


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