5 Habits I’m Adopting to Grow As A CPA & Content Creator

I have been adopting new habits in the last couple of months to help me grow as a CPA and content creator. I am committing as I believe they will help me grow holistically. For example, committing to reading newsletters related to my field and interest should help me stay up-to-date with the latest in AI and finance. Waking up early before work to dedicate to jenthinks should allow me to stay focused before work demands take over.

It is not by accident that my blog and my work compliment each other but I am still immensely grateful that I am in the spot I am today. So, in order to improve, here are the five habits I am adopting this year.

Waking Up An Hour Early to Work on Jenthinks

To wake up an hour early before I have to for work is without a doubt the hardest for me. Especially in the winter when it is still dark out. However, it is also the most impactful change for me as it means I get to devote my most alert and energetic time to what is important to me.

When I was going through my CPA PEP journey, I attempted this twice. I wanted to study in the morning before work instead of in the evening. I succeeded once and failed quickly the second time in the winter. The mindset was a bit different back then as I was trying to just get studying over with first thing in the morning. I did not want to have to think about it throughout the day. Now, my motivation to do this again is to give my best to what matters.

As of the writing of this post (late Jan 2024), I have just begun doing waking up an hour early before work. I am not usually big on making a lot of changes at the start of a new year. But I have to admit, the holiday was all about resting and more resting. The early mornings have been really productive so far as I have made progress on a project that has been on my mind for a while.

Reading Non-Shopping Newsletters in My Inbox Throughout the Day

Like many, my inbox is filled with all kinds of retail newsletters. It seems like a huge sale is happening every other day. I am mindful of that and try to unsubscribe whenever I am not interested in a brand anymore. However, once I get to know new brands, I subscribe again and the cycle repeats.

To get more nutrition in my inbox, these three daily free newsletters are my favourite as they cover topics I want to learn mroe about:

  • Morning Brew*: quick, engaging summaries of the latest news in business, finance, and tech
  • Everyday AI: practical applications, trends, and insights related to AI in daily life and various industries
  • Techpresso: updates and insights on the latest technology trends and news

I have been trying to make it a habit to read the newsletters throughout the day as I am scrolling on my phone mindlessly.

Upskilling (Power Query) in the Evening

I started learning Power Query seriously late last year. I watched a couple of YouTube videos before finishing this free ExcelIsFun’s YouTube data analysis playlist. After that, I moved on to his advanced data analysis playlist. I made it about 25% in (the videos range from few minutes long to over an hour long) before commiting to a paid Power Query course by Xelplus.

I almost always try out free resources I can find online or through the library (e.g., library card provides free access to LinkedIn Learning) before commiting to paid ones so this time was no exception. ExcelIsFun’s content is excellent to start with as they are very high quality. However, I find Leila’s paid course more structured and consistent in duration by design. It definitely comes down to personal preference as you can’t really go wrong with either creator.

I have been averaging 15- to 20-minute most evenings on the Power Query course and continue to apply what I learn almost immediately at work. The feedback loop (learn and apply) has been very positive and allowed me to improve efficiency at work.

Reading Non-Fiction On My E-Reader Before Bed

I bought my Kobo e-reader years ago and have used it sparingly over the years. I saw a couple of books I was interested in few weeks ago so I picked up my e-reader again. Since I no longer force myself to finish a book if I did not want to, I am getting through my books a lot quicker than before. For example, I finished only half of this ChatGPT book when I decided the content was a bit too entry-level for me. Instead of losing interest in reading completely, I moved on to Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast the next night. I love fiction books, with murder mystery being my favorite genre, but I figured I already watch enough fiction on TV as it is. So I try to read non-fiction only now.

I am not trying to reach a number goal (e.g., 30 books in 2024) but my target is to read 20- to 30-minute before bed most nights.

Decluttering & Keeping My Home Clutter-Free

This might not seem relevant to growing professionally, however, it helps me stay calm like nothing else. I always try to avoid creating clutter by resisting to buy everything I find adorable or pretty. Most of the time I am fine with taking just a picture of the item as memory but sometimes I do give in. Depending on how much I love the item, I might just make it work in my space, even though it is ‘clutter’, or I part ways with it after a while.

We moved in a couple of years ago and there were certain areas in the house that were always messy by my standard. Since I work from home full-time, I am constantly aware of the ‘mess’ around me, even though I know the rather minimalistic vibe isn’t everyone’s preference. I hadn’t realized how much it truly bothered me until I decluttered last week and experienced a rush of calmness upon opening my bedroom door. It was magical.

So, the last habit to adopt this year is to keep my home as clutter-free and organized as possible. I know it is good for my mental health which helps me keep my stress-level down.

*referral link as they offer cute Morning Brew swag for referrals