Being a CPA is only one part of your life - most look forward to raising families, having friends, and trying to find personal and professional fulfillment at the same time. Doing all of this during and dedicating a large portion of your life studying for the exam is daunting, but very possible.
First of all, let's just state it as it is. You will feel like you are spending as much time as humanly possible studying CPA review materials for the exam, but it doesn't mean you need to abandon your other responsibilities and wants in life. We're not just talking about keeping the bills paid and food on the table. If you're married, with or without children, you already know that you still have a part to play in their happiness and well being as a person. Too often we see these things get put on the backburner. This is a season of life to focus on career growth, but when spouses or partners are part of the process and feel validated and important it keeps everyone more content than if ignored or put low on the priority list.
Luckily for you, we've been at it a long time. Here are some tips.
1. Be Proactive When Making Your Schedule
When you are planning out your study schedule each week or month, be sure to include time dedicated just to your family or partner. Put in the couple hours it takes to watch your kid's baseball game or recital. Don’t treat it as a sacrifice; kids will pick up on this quickly.
2. Be Present
You don’t have to show up to your kid's life or take your spouse out to dinner; you get to. If you are constantly checking your watch or worrying about work/study you won’t be present, enjoy the moment, or be an enjoyable person to have there. Having a presence is important, but you feel like you have to be there you will trick yourself into thinking it is another burden.
3. Make Sure to Take 'You Time'
Taking an hour or two here and there throughout your week to focus your attention on your loved ones is time well spent - for them and you. You'll also want to make sure you designate time to yourself so you can recharge. Maybe it's as simple as a walk, reading a book for pleasure rather than learning, or having the routine of watching a specific TV show that comes out weekly. Taking even 10 minutes to do something relaxing each time before opening your study materials is beneficial to calm you down and allow you to focus. On weekends, try to either wake up early to study for a few hours before the rest of your family rises, study in increments rather than all at once, and allow yourself to stray from the plan without abandoning it.
You should also keep your family involved in the process of becoming a CPA. Talk with your kids about what becoming a CPA means. Have an intentional conversation about the time you are sacrificing to study and how it will benefit them in the long run. Let your spouse know if you're struggling or if you need to vent. This assures them that they are an important part of the process and you need them. They can also get involved in helping you study. Give your spouse your study guide and have them quiz you from time to time. They are in this with you! It may be a little far-fetched to think they can help a lot since you know what you need to study more than they need to, but it's important to create memories everyone is a part of.