The “Pursue Your Passion” Generation

There is a lot of rhetoric out there about chasing your dream and crossing the chasm and creating a “muse” business.

But, here’s the harsh reality: It’s all complete BS.

There are many, many “experts” out there trying to sell you a particular paradigm. Essentially, some publishers and organizations, including your state and national societies, are trying to convince you that our profession is an island, and wholly isolated from the risk of job losses and business failure due to advances in technology. We’re not manufacturing, they say, so the robots can’t displace us.

Fast forward to this pursue your passion nonsense.

Let’s be real here. It doesn’t matter if tax, accounting, bookkeeping, etc. is your passion or not.

Trust me, tax is not my passion.

Whaaaaaaaattttt?

Never, ever forget: I got into the tax resolution world as a means to an end.

I was bankrupt and homeless — literally living in my vehicle. When I entered the tax profession, it was merely a J.O.B., intended to put food on the dashboard. At the time, I really didn’t care what I did to earn money.

But I learned to love it.

I found pieces of this business that I could be passionate about. The statistics, the marketing, nuances within the IRM and IRC. Basically, all the stuff I could geek out about.

I found a place within taxation to exert my true passions.

You need to do the same. We work in a fairly thankless profession, but you don’t have to love the tax work itself. In fact, you don’t even have to do the tax work. All tax and accounting work is a technical skill with plenty of knowledgeable (and licensed) practitioners looking for work. You can hire people to do the grunt work for you, and focus on the aspects of the business that you’re passionate about.

I recently spoke to the cousin of a close friend that is considering changing careers. She’s worked in bookkeeping for a long time, and thinks that she can be successful in sales. When we first started talking, she was talking about retail sales, because that was something she could get passionate about.

I told her to put the brakes, and not make such a drastic career change. I suggested that she shadow some sales reps for a few days, and see how a sales job actually works on a day to day basis. If she liked that, then I suggested a sales job within the accounting realm. Perhaps software sales, or business development for an accounting firm. This had never dawned on her as an option.

If you don’t like what you’re doing, then definitely change it. Pursue your passion — but within limits. Don’t change careers entirely, especially if you’ve invested decades into your tax or accounting career.

Our profession is changing rapidly. New opportunities are being created almost every month. The core members of our profession are starting to retire, so there is plenty of upward mobility for those of us in our 30’s and 40’s. There is no shortage of regulatory and technological change that will drive innovation and revolution in what we do. Look for opportunities within those changes, and try to match your passions to some of those changes.

Are you fascinated with the idea of dropping everything and becoming a life coach? Don’t do that… Just don’t. Teach CPE instead, or become a training manager at a large accounting firm. Or get into the recruiting side of accounting or law. All of these are fairly similar to life coaching, but without the drastic professional change.

Passionate about surfing and dreaming of opening a surf shop in Cost Rica? There’s nothing wrong with that, but understand the financial limitations and the realities of things like business visas in foreign countries. How are you going to support yourself while growing your surf shop? This is where services like tax resolution really shine, because you can make some serious money working 100% remotely from your clients.

Are you a recent accounting graduate and only 3 months into your first auditing job at a large CPA firm, and already hating your life? Well, you’re financially committed at this point — suck up the next nine months to get your one year of minimum experience to punch your CPA ticket. Get that license, then strike out on your own. That CPA license is a golden ticket that’s worth having, so don’t throw it away.

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing your passion. I’ve done it myself on multiple occasions, and continue to do it to this day with Prolaera (I’m passionate about making CPE not suck anymore). But you’ll notice that I’ve made my passions work within the confines of my existing background and skills — everything has been an offshoot of something else, never starting from scratch.

So sure, pursue your passions. But don’t burn down the house as you walk out the door. That goes double for you Millennials.