People expect answers to this question on the lines of MBA, LLB, CS, CFA, Job, Practice. Heard of the saying – “making a living is different than making a life?” You have a professional degree and you can’t wait to make money and take on the world. Spend a few months into a job and you may just realize that yes this is a decent job, yes it pays well. But what after this? CA was a great achievement of your life but shouldn’t there be anything greater than that to achieve? A promotion, yes. A pay hike, yes. But shouldn’t there be a bigger goal that you should be pursuing?
I am 1 year into corporate world and I am dealing with the same questions. Here are some of the things I think make sense doing after CA:
1. Read: You will find this item on all of my lists. Don’t underestimate the power of reading. I am not talking about CA journals (although they are great but I feel they lack the essential pieces of advice which every professional seeks, no matter how many years he/she has been into the profession). Read autobiographies. They may sound boring, but trust me, nothing is more comforting than knowing that some of the most successful people in this world were as confused in their 20s as you are. Also try and read up at least 1 non-fiction book from various genres each month. Since your CA is over, you need not just stick to your course content. This is the only way you will develop the ability to view a situation from different perspectives.
2. Create art: The definition of art need not be restricted to just paintings/ poems/ music. Spend your time creating things. This may include writing an article for CA Club, brainstorming with your friends, making a powerpoint presentation about your favourite movies and so on. Creating something out of nothing is the best way to keep your brain sharp. Try out different things and explore different facets of your personality. You may find a hobby that you can convert into a full time profession some day. Don’t ever let the curiosity in you die. There is so much to explore!
3. Question things: Once you’re out of the formal education system, you tend to start forming your own belief systems. Stop accepting things at their face value. So your mentors have probably spent their whole lives in the same organization and they are now the CFOs there. Ask yourself if that’s what YOU really want. Bob Dylan has written the best quote on success – “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning, gets to bed at night and in between he does what he wants to do”. CA degree is a great training ground that teaches you to have patience and keep going during tough times. Define the meaning of success for yourself and use your CA lessons to achieve that.
4. Stay in touch with your friends: Do not take your friendships for granted. All those friends you made in college/ classes/ articleship are probably leading VERY different lives from you right now. So it will take an extra effort on your part to maintain those friendships. Making “connections” during your corporate life may help you get ahead in your job but some of the most awesome times in life will be spent with your same old college/ classes/ articleship friends. And you don’t want to lose that.
5. Take time out for yourself: You work so hard to become a CA and then you keep working hard for that paycheck, for that increment, for that promotion. None of this is going to make any sense, if you’re not happy. So, for some time every day, just relax and stop worrying about your goals. Spend time doing things that you really love.
Well, I am still trying to figure out what my skills are, what makes me happy and what I want to do with my life. It may be a while before I get anywhere near the answer, but I am getting closer ever day.
P.S. Reaching out to all the experienced Chartered Accountants of this forum – what is the one piece of advice that you would like to give to us, freshly qualified Chartered Accountants?