[IMGCAP(1)]’Tis the time of year when children daydream of possibilities. And, if you have ever seen a letter to Santa written by a seven-year-old, you know that the little ones often swing for the fences.

Reading those wish lists can certainly cause bouts of laughter, and perhaps some raised eyebrows. Here are some good ones:

•  A million dollars? Sorry, Santa does not print that much money.
•  A pony? Santa can’t gift wrap a pony, and it would never fit through the chimney anyway.
•  A 2014 American Girl doll? You can’t have that, sweetheart, it has not been made yet.
•  A dragon?  A large creature that can fly and breathe fire in this house? That sounds like a great idea! Hmm, let me think about it… No!

However, kids do have a good point. If you don’t ask for it, you definitely won’t get it. So here is a CPA’s wish list, addressed to Santa, and to any other higher power who will listen. I have taken the liberty of getting Santa’s responses. Enjoy!

1. Awesome staff.
Santa: Wouldn’t it be amazing to have turnkey staff to read your mind, never make mistakes, and work around the clock without complaint? You are describing my elves, and no, you cannot have them. I have spent many years carefully hiring, training, supervising, and motivating them. If you want your own, you will have to do the same. Sounds like a lot of work? It is, sorry about that.

2. More time.
Santa: That would have disastrous implications. Think about it for a moment: What would happen if you decided that the Earth should rotate around the Sun a bit slower today, because you need a few extra hours? Nope, all you get for Christmas is 24 hours. You can choose to spend more time on things that matter to you, but you don’t need me for that.

3. Health.
Santa: You would like a healthy, flexible, fit, rested body that is a joy to use? Who wouldn’t? Until medical science advances enough to allow for an overnight whole body transplant, you will have to work with what you’ve got. I can bring you some books on exercise, fitness and nutrition. On second thought, you might check your own bookshelves. Let’s start there.

4. Better clients.
Santa: I hear this from many CPAs. Some want to move away from being a tax preparer and become known as a comprehensive business advisor. Others are happy doing exactly what they do, and want to do that for a higher caliber of clients. Clients that big don’t quite fit through the chimney, but I can bring you some good books on branding and marketing. Better yet, partner up with a great coach!

5. CPEs done.
Santa: This gift is so popular that I usually run out of fresh credits by mid-November, and my elves won’t get to make any more this season. Next year, you might want to put in your request earlier. Better yet, I can bring you a nice Moleskine planner, so you can schedule your CPE sessions throughout the year and avoid cramming three days before the report is due!

Jokes aside, one of the hardest things about being an adult is that no one can get you what you really want for Christmas. However, the holidays are still a great time to pause and think about what you would like to be different in your business and personal life in the New Year.

Most CPAs want to make their lives a little easier, and serve their clients better. Boosting revenue and spending more time with family and friends are also high on the list.

My wish for your holiday season is that you remember what is possible. You can get control of your practice. You can make more money. You can have great clients. You can have more family time. All in all, you can have a CPA license and a life. Happy, prosperous, centered CPAs may be as elusive as reindeer, but it does not have to be that way. I know that, because I have seen it.
So, what do you want for Christmas?

In her professional lives across the United States, Natalia Autenrieth has audited Fortune 500 clients as part of a Big 4 team, built an accounting department as a controller of a large hospital, and served as a CPA consultant to municipalities. She continues to consult with and coach high-achieving CPAs for sustainable growth, helping them build highly profitable careers, avoid burn-out, and have more fun! Natalia lives in Southern California with her husband Doug who is an author, an executive coach, and a kung fu teacher, and their son Mason. They share a home with Tasha the German Shepherd, who is highly trained and exceptionally well behaved, and Kaya the Abyssinian cat, who is a frequent candidate for a one-way ticket to Siberia. Read more about her at www.NataliaAutenriethCPA.com.

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