Finding Inspiration in the Mundane


The deadline is less than a week away. It is almost over. Tax deadlines tend to bring out the most negative thoughts and least inspired work. Everyone is tired. Everyone is ready to be through it. The adrenaline has worn off and we are left with coffee and determination to carry us through. So, where do you find inspiration when there is literally no time to focus on anything else except the tax deadline?

For me, inspiration hits in seemingly irrelevant times with an extreme sense of clarity around a specific concept, goal, or idea. It comes in waves and can frequently be captured in words or pictures before it flitters away again. The kind of inspiration I try to evoke during deadline weeks is strategic inspiration. I need to focus on what is next; what amazing thing do I get to do when the deadline is through?

I use a few techniques to elicit inspiration.

  • I end every call asking people for three positive things. Sometimes people compliment me or the team. Sometimes people tell me about their wins. Sometimes I hear about a new project they have that is really interesting. Frequently I hear about their personal lives and milestones of their children. Everything I hear is exciting and inspiring in and of itself.
  • I consider the patterns in the firm, inefficiencies, and potential solutions and prioritize them. I pick a specific unanswered question and consider the variables right before I go to sleep. Frequently I will read a book or an article that addresses the priority question to learn how other people have solved it. Ours brains are incredibly creative while we sleep and tapping into that superpower can deliver inspiration. I did a quick Google search to back this up with science and found a wonderful article about Hacking Creativity in Psychology Today.
  • I do not check my email until after I am ready for the day. It is easy to not take time for yourself in the morning, especially in the time of Covid and working from home. Use the time in the morning to mentally organize your priorities and stick to those priorities. When you complete your list at the end of the day without chasing fires, it feels amazing. That feeling of accomplishment can lead to some serious moments of inspiration.
  • See the beauty of the productivity of this week. Find positivity in the accomplishments. Enjoy the satisfaction of serving your clients well. Hold onto every single positive thought you have. Increasing your positivity can increase the frequency of inspiration. It can also increase your health, so bonus!

Finding inspiration in a deadline week is not easy and it also gives a nice shot of rocket fuel to push through the day to day. Inspiration gives us a creative outlet otherwise not seen around compliance deadlines. Let us all focus on our sources of inspiration and make the final deadline push with grace and excitement for the 16th.

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Liz Mason is a serial entrepreneur, a giant nerd, and an involved accounting vanguard. She is the Founder of High Rock Accounting, Rebel Rock Accounting, TheDepartment.Tax, and a few other related brands. Liz speaks on a national stage, guests stars on podcasts, and writes frequently. To further her passion for the advancement of the accounting profession, Liz currently serves as a Xero National Ambassador and as the Content Strategist for Tax Practice News. Liz started her career in tax at Grant Thornton (at 20) and automated a portion of her job landing her in the national tax practice. She spent a decade in large public accounting firms working on highly technical tax consulting before branching off on her own. Liz utilizes her creativity and passion at her company to uproot traditional practices and replace them with innovative concepts. She finds joy in efficient technology and her core belief is that everyone and everything can continuously improve (she says "be better" too often). When Liz isn't planning world domination in accounting, she is a die-hard skier, down for any adventure, plays the ukulele, reads everything, and has a good sense of humor. If you're looking for her, you can find her traveling the world and enjoying new food and cultures with her young son. Follow Liz and High Rock Accounting on Twitter at @LizzyNorMa and @HighRockCPAs.