Counting Down to CFE – Emotions, Struggle Bus & Burnout

With 18 more days to go until CFE, I thought my update should focus on how I have been feeling. Up until a couple of days ago, I had a pretty manageable time with CFE prep. When the first part of my CFE leave started mid-last week, I was able to get into a pretty consistent routine right away (wake up around 8 AM, have breakfast then start studying). I adjusted my CFE prep plan around then and was able to stick to it for the most part. However, I had my first burnout experience a couple of days ago. If you are feeling the same, you are not alone. I hope what helped me will help you too.

Also, a reminder that your feelings are valid. There is only so much you can do to prevent yourself from feeling burnout. CFE prep is physically and mentally testing by design. You will get through it.

RELATED POST – Counting Down to CFE – CFE Prep For The Next 25 Days

A Recap On Everything I Did In The Past Week

I attempted and debriefed the following cases:

  • Day 1: WDI (Capstone 2 Week 6)
  • Day 2: K-Med, Atlantic Shellfish (Capstone 2 Day 2)
  • Day 3: Elder Care, Canadian Holistic & Culinary Crawl (Capstone 2 Day 3)

Overall, I feel pretty good about Day 1. It’s got a very predictable structure and clear way to pass. I don’t plan on returning to Day 1 until closer to CFE. For Day 3, I feel okay overall. I am comfortable with the more common AOs I have already encountered once or twice before. However, there are definitely still quite a few AOs I can get better at. I received my first Day 3 case marked by National Marking Center with all RCs yesterday. I know I need C’s for MA & FR but that was definitely a good sign. I am on the right track.

What I am struggling most with is Day 2 cases for my Finance role. I am having a hard time integrating case facts (e.g., AO with information all over the case) and being patient/brave enough to attempt AOs I should know. I took a break from cases today and focused on reviewing the basics. Hopefully, I will do better on the next Day 2 (Ferguson, Capstone 2 Day 2).

Emotions, Struggle Bus & Burnout

Last Friday, I planned to attempt K-Med (Capstone 2 Day 2) in full. However, as soon as I finished reading the case, I felt I didn’t know enough. I felt overwhelmed and thought I had no idea how to do any of the Finance AOs. I attempted all of the common AOs and few Finance AOs before calling it a day early. I finished the rest of the Finance AOs on Saturday before attempting a Day 3 case (to boost my confidence).

The confidence I got from the Day 3 case lasted through the weekend as I also had a good time with the Day 1 case. However, once I attempted my next Day 2 case (Atlantic Shellfish, Capstone 2), I felt the same overwhelming feeling again. For some reasons, I had myself convinced that I wasn’t able to integrate the case facts or attempt the AOs with what I knew. But, I have seen those AOs either in the elective module or from earlier Day 2 cases before. It was like I just couldn’t apply anything I knew.

I told Eric CFE prep was wearing me down. I told him how I just wasn’t able to do well on day 2 cases. I wasn’t sure if what I felt was burnout because I still really wanted to continue.

The next day, I attempted two Day 3 cases hoping to feel better. Sadly, I was crushed by one of them (Culinary Crawl, Capstone 2 Day 3). The disappointment really got to me. It was an annoying feeling because I was confident I was improving slowly for weeks. I started CFE prep with a lot of Googling or giving up. I got to a point where I can use Folioviews relatively comfortably without having to Google anything. I have seen enough of a variety of AOs to at least try my best to attempt new, unfamiliar ones. Then, I wasn’t sure. At the same time, my rational mind would tell myself this was part of the process.

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What Helped Me With CFE Burnout

Knowing This Was Normal & Hardly Avoidable

Obviously, knowing this struggle was going to be part of the CFE prep process helped. I knew before I started Capstone 2 (the formal start of CFE prep) that I was going to feel this at some point. Based on the messages I got from fellow writers, it seemed we all felt it at different point of our CFE prep. I went to webinars and read posts to prepare myself mentally as well as I could but I still felt it. I am not upset for feeling this way and definitely not angry at myself. Mental health is health. I know I just need to take a second sometimes.

Believe In Yourself

I have spent years building up self-confidence in what I am capable of. Early in my career, I didn’t always meet people who had my best interests’ at heart or believe in me. I learned that I had to be the one to believe in myself so I did. I know that just because I am struggling does not mean I don’t have what it takes. Same goes for you. There is a reason why we made it this far. Some of you are still working and some of you have responsibilities beyond studying. You made it through CPA PEP so you can make it through CFE prep as well.

Ask Yourself How You Can Improve

I had to convince myself to not attempt another day 2 case this morning. That was because I knew I just wanted to rush into it to prove my feelings wrong (that I just can’t do well on Day 2 cases). However, I knew that was not the right thing to do. I should take a break from attempting cases and focus on the ‘why’ I haven’t been doing as well as I hoped. I decided it was because I seemed to have forgotten about the basics I once knew very well (when I took Finance elective). I have been struggling with AOs I should know how to attempt because I had forgotten about the basic principles and techniques. The lack of technical and the overwhelmingly long case cause me to panic. So, I spent today trying to improve on that.

Ask For Help

I am lucky because Eric has been with me since I started CPA PEP (okay, looooooong before that). He knew I was struggling so he asked me multiple times how he can help. There wasn’t anything tangible I needed but the mental support was what made a difference. I don’t know what your situation is but you definitely do not need to do this alone. Reach out to someone on the Capstone 2 discussion board. Search for CFE posts on the r/Accounting on Reddit. Call your family or friends. Seriously, talk to someone who would listen. They don’t need to understand exactly what you are going through (e.g., my sister is a scientist who knows nothing about CPA cases but I still talk to her) but they just need to support you.

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