It’s Not You, CPA Exam. It’s Me.

After taking the FAR exam several weeks ago, I had a period of time that I didn’t need to study. I either passed that test and I would be done (what I was hoping for), or I would have to retake it and the BEC exam that the credit expired on…as I posted earlier, the latter happened. But during that extended break, I decided to completely avoid anything CPA related and to give my house some much needed attention. For the past couple of years it was only given a good cleaning before the holiday season and if anyone was graduating.

It was then I realized that studying for the CPA Exam is like being in an intense relationship. It’s the first thing you tend to in the morning and the last thing you tend to before going to bed. You think about it all throughout your day, trying to squeeze in time whenever you can to listen to an audio lecture or glimpse a flashcard. It takes up the majority of your time, energy, and attention. When you ignore it for too long, you start to feel a gnawing guilt. You shut out your friends and family, and there are definitely moments of anger, frustration, happiness, and tranquility. Yes, I felt it was a much needed time to take a break from Mr. CPA Exam.

My kids jokingly asked what I was doing, as if they had never seen me clean the house before; and my dog was by far the most confused. For years it was only studying or watching me pack my suitcase for a trip…which she always hated. This time, I pulled old clothes out of my closet, tried them on, and if they were too big or too small, they were going. Gone are the days where I think someday, I’ll fit into that again. The dog looked at me puzzled. The clothes are out of the closet, but there was no suitcase in sight. We went up to the office to file a paper or two, but not to study. I know she was thinking, “What is this woman doing? This is not the routine.”

Putting Off The Inevitable

I continued to do this even after I got my test results, knowing that I had to get back to studying but finding my organized closet very rewarding. Then I came back to reality. Yes, my closet did look good, but the fact was, I was just stalling…putting off the inevitable. It felt good to do something that was not tied to looking at my computer, and I got caught up in it. Then my son’s friend, who came over for their group study session said, “Well Donna, it’s time to study.” I said, “Oh, you?” He replied, “In general.” “Yes, you’re right…”

I loaded up my car with clothes for charity, looked at the dog and said, “Okay, let’s go study.” She bounded up the stairs and took her place under the desk. To her, the whole world was right again. And, in some way, it was right again for me too. It was time to end the break between myself and Mr. CPA Exam. Sometimes you have to step away from something you’re not particularly fond of in order to find the fondness of it and to remember what it was that made you fall in love in the first place. I realized that Mr. CPA Exam will never change, and I have to accept that. What can change is the way I approach my studying and the way I leverage my strengths and weaknesses to do better on the next section. I realized that it’s not you, Mr. CPA Exam. It’s me. 

Time to Get Organized

So, for many of you CPA Exam candidates out there, take some time off if you can to organize another part of your life before delving back into the study process. You won’t only allow your mind to take a much needed break, but you’ll be able to gain some clarity and maybe even a clean closet in the process as well as a better understanding of how you can change parts of your study habit to be more beneficial on future tests. 

– Donna Elish, guest blogger for Roger CPA Review

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