This post was authored by Liz Mason, Xero National Ambassador and CEO of High Rock Accounting.
As accountants, we are great at taking care of our clients. We are phenomenal at budgeting their cashflow to pay for the bucket list trip without going into debt. But why aren’t we the ones on those bucket list trips? We, as a bunch, do not put ourselves first.
While off-season allows time for us to work on our business strategy and reinvest in making our processes or technology better, it should be a chance to take a breather. We can find creative ways to take care of ourselves physically and mentally and head into busy season on our strongest note.
I enjoy challenging the humans around me to find creative ways to re-energize and rejuvenate heading into the last few months of the year. Whether you prescribe to the Parks and Rec mantra of “treat yo’ self” and pick a day to do everything you want, or you decide to spread it out, here are some examples of activities I find helpful in the pursuit of greater life satisfaction.
- Find something you loved doing as a kid. For me this is roller coasters. I will get up early, be the first in line for a theme park and ride roller coasters until I feel slightly dizzy. I giggle like a little kid the entire time. The act of laughing that hard pulls me up every time. Plus, there is the added benefit of walking miles in the theme park.
- Pick one personal thing to accomplish that’s been on your to-do list. Last week, I had the carpets replaced in my son’s room. He previously had 30-year-old bright blue, stained carpeting. I have been saying for three years (yes, that is how old he is) that I needed to get him new carpet. Checking this personal to-do item off of my list was cathartic.
- Go to brunch with an old friend. Call that one friend that is always laughing, the one you have not talked to in a long time and take them out to brunch. Surrounding yourself with close friends, and especially happy friends, can increase your own happiness. Catch up, tell old stories, and hug. Give them a real hug. Scientific studies show that hugs that last 20 seconds or longer release endorphins and increase people’s moods.
- Do something physical. Climb a mountain! Ride a bike, join a gym, go for a swim, a run, a volleyball match, find a random person to play tennis with, play soccer with your kids, or make up another activity that uses your body (anyone else down for a zombie-tequila-triathlon?). We sit at desks for far too long and deserve some time to be physically active. I find myself being more efficient after I spend a day skiing; one day on the slopes equals seven days of quality work output and increased happiness. There have been many studies showing increased brain function, mood, and less anxiety after engaging in physical exercise. 
- Fire your worst client. It creates a liberating feeling to be out from underneath demanding, uncommunicative, and unappreciative clients. This time of year is when we announce a small price increase across the board, where we generally send out nice emails and make a few phone calls. For the terrible clients, we either price them out, knowing they will not want to pay the increased fees, or we fire them directly. I have gotten quite adept at telling this type of client that we are changing our focus and are no longer the best fit for them.
- Volunteer for charity. Whether you decide to spend the day at a volunteer event or join a board to continue giving back to your community year-round, it will benefit you. Research has shown that volunteering increases both mental and physical health. It can help ward off anxiety (something many accountants struggle with) and even lower your blood pressure (which we all need post deadlines). Taking care of others is a fantastic way to take care of yourself in your down time.
- Find a weekend travel deal and book it. Yes, actually book it, do not just fantasize about how amazing and romantic it would be to travel. My favorite travel blog is Travelzoo where they give you a listing of all the best deals on the Internet for adventures and it is totally free. Travel has so many physical and mental benefits I could write an entire article about that (and someone did).
However you decide to spend the final months of the year, make sure you carve out time to focus on yourself. When you are in a professional service industry, it is easy to consider everyone else first. And, it is important to put yourself first.