Unlearning and reframing

minute read

Last Updated September 29, 2023


*This blog is part of the May 2023 Thought Leader newsletter

Leah Reid, Education Team Development Managerlindsay malcolm, education services coordinator

The post-tax-season tax glow is shining bright. You have renewed energy to work on your firm. You’re rolling up your sleeves and digging into improving the areas that aren’t going so well.

But first, have you celebrated the successes?

If not, stop now! Celebrate and document the wins to make sure they carry over to future tax seasons. Congratulate and thank your staff for all of their hard work and accomplishments and gather feedback from them. What do they feel went really well? What could be better?

Now, let’s get back to the sleeve-rolling and to where the bulk of your post-tax-season energy should be focused.

Living in the comfort zone

First, take a look at your list of improvements and to-dos. If you’re like many of us, there are plenty of items that exist far outside your comfort zone—and guess what gets pushed to the bottom? Yes, the uncomfortable tasks. After all, it’s much easier to check those boxes when we don’t have to challenge ourselves to think differently or tackle difficult changes.

But consider this: When we continuously push those items to the bottom of the list, they continue to loom over our heads, thereby becoming sources of stress and overwhelm because they never get that check mark.

Recently, we were given the opportunity to hear Dr. Margie Warrell speak about tackling fears. Her words, “Growth and comfort cannot ride the same horse,” stuck with us as she repeatedly emphasized stepping out of our comfort zones to unlearn, relearn, grow and improve.

Dr. Warrell’s words got us thinking. What if we looked at the list of uncomfortable to-dos as opportunities to evolve professionally and personally instead of discomfort roadblocks?

Our challenge for you: Kick comfort off the horse!

We know that the hardest part of checking off those to-dos is knowing where to start. That’s why we’ve put together a list of suggested steps—and questions to ask yourself as you move through each step.

  1. Don’t just tackle the easiest to-dos at the top of the list.

    Identify one uncomfortable task and move it to the top of your priority list.

  2. Document why that task feels so uncomfortable.

    Try to understand the fear behind it. Then, to shift your perspective to growth and relearning rather than fear and discomfort, consider these guiding questions (keep in mind; not all will be relevant, and you may not have all the answers):

    • How has my aversion to this task’s risk perpetuated the problem?
    • Why have my previous attempts at tackling the task failed?
    • What is the ideal outcome of the task?
    • What do I need in order to achieve that ideal outcome?
    • Why am I resisting this task?
    • What if I stop resisting this task?
    • What is the biggest, fundamental challenge for me in relation to the task?
    • Who can help me tackle the task and relearn a new approach to tackling similar tasks in the future?
    • What emotions could be undermining my progress in accomplishing the task?
    • What am I afraid of?
    • What is the best thing I can do—or stop doing—today that will help me achieve this task?
  3. The questions above should have provided at least one opportunity for you to relearn how to tackle the task.

    Be sure to document your new approach, and ask yourself:

    • What are the important milestones?
    • Who do I need help from?
    • How will I measure success?
    • How will the success of this task lead to success in other areas of my firm? Or my life?
    • If I run into roadblocks, how will I handle them?

Unlearning and reframing

Unlearning, reframing and shifting your perspective isn’t easy—but then, riding the same horse and staying in the same zone is too easy. But when you start small by focusing your attention on attacking one uncomfortable item, that means you’re already making progress.

Keep those sleeves rolled up and keep tackling that list, one task at a time. The personal and professional growth you accomplish will only bring positive outcomes in the future.

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