The seasons have officially changed, the pace has (hopefully) slowed down a bit, and you are getting caught up enough to take a few deep breaths. There's a temptation for many, when times get calm like this, to just put your head down and do some work. The curse of the highly motivated and work-ethic superstars is that of success achieved through maximum effort rather than optimum effort.
The word optimum is defined as an adjective as being "most conducive to a favorable outcome; best." and a noun as "the most favorable conditions or level for growth, reproduction, or success." Maximum is defined as "as great, high, or intense as possible or permitted."
Too many times the focus of students is put solely on maximum rather than optimum habits seeking maximum benefits. The reality is we all want to focus on our maximum, reaching the best potential, and achieving our goals. Hours are poured into studying, coffees to wake up and stay awake, and pages read at alarming rates based on the maximum effort approach. Optimum habits, on the other hand, offer a different scope with which to view the path to maximum success.
Consider this; how do others achieve their maximum success? Are the best cars the ones who use the most fuel or the ones who use it most efficiently? Do athletes merely focus on upper body strength or the strength of the entire body, flexibility, and mental preparation? Is the strongest rock climber the best rock climber or is it the smarter one who knows how to use angles, grips, and the tension of their body against the rock to their advantage.
The rock climber analogy is likely the best because there is so much more to the challenge than meets the eye. The strongest athletes can easily be fatigued just part way up a climb if they have poor form but a climber with good technique and less strength will have the ability and longevity to finish the route. The best climbers combine both approaches to reach their maximum, but the main focus always comes down to preparation and technique.
So it is with the CPA student - the "strongest student" or the one pouring in the most time into books can easily find themselves fatigued, lost, and in need of a rescue shortly into their route to success. The smart student knows how to manage the different problems, use proper technique, finds expertise in how to balance strength and arrange obstacles in their favor.
Both scenarios come down to experience and education. Beginner climbers try to grip hand holds while experienced ones will let gravity mixed with the surface area of their hand create tension that does the work for them. The same goes for students who can find ways for routine and massive amounts of studying to ground them rather than cause fatigue. A good teacher will often slow down the student to ensure proper form because they know the challenge ahead may quickly become too much and cause discouragement and doubt.
So, with it being Fall and life calming down, right now is a very good time to look up at the route ahead and spend some time analyzing what approach to take. Here are some quick recommendations we make for a smart start.
Form over Function
Work should not only be about the outcome. It should be about the route given the known outcome. Some successes are not worth it if the toll to get them is too great. The form, or approach, should never be too taxing as to make the outcome not worth it.
Find a Guru
Possibly the #1 thing everyone should do is find a mentor or professional advisor. You will save yourself tons of mistakes and hardship by pairing up with someone who has done what you're trying to do before and can help point you in the right direction while preventing as many mistakes along the way.
Focus on Analytical Skills
This is vital to any CPA in their professional life but also an important to every person in their everyday life. Visualize looking up at a crack in a rock and having to figure out the best way to climb up it before your feet leave the ground. Now, imagine that to be your route to passing the CPA Exam. Literally draw it out if you want to and figure out the steps along the way. Where will you probably hit a difficult section? Where will you need to rest? What gear and tools do you need to invest in? Oh ya, your body needs to keep up so how are you going to fuel, refresh, and take care of it? Who is your study partner going to be? You do yourself a great deal of good by focusing on the route before you get started.
Find the Balance
You're going to run into this one a lot. When is studying as much as you can study too much? With changes coming to the CPA Exam in 2017 the CPA Review student is going to have to focus on retention more than ever before. Simple repetition is no longer going to be enough and realistically never should have been since the information taken in needs to be drawn from over a lifelong career. Don't ask yourself if you will remember information in a day or month from now. Focus your studies around remembering information in a year.
Reach Out to Available Resources
This is where we can help. Our team has helped thousands of students pass the CPA Exam and we pride ourselves on easy availability to help students pass the CPA Exam while leading happy healthy lives.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and head on over to follow our Facebook page for reminders, encouragement, and resources throughout your journey to getting your CPA License.