Written by Tawnya Nyman, CPA
I have always dreamed of travel. As a child, I loved to play with our Rand McNally globe examining the names of the countries shown and running my hands along the raised relief textures that indicated changes in elevation. (I also liked closing my eyes and spinning it, while pretending that I could travel to wherever my fingers landed when it stopped!) However, my childhood travels were limited to visits to family members residing in the Pacific Northwest and over time, those dreams faded to little more than a flicker.
A few years after completing my master’s degree, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to stay with a friend and do some sightseeing. We visited all the national memorials and monuments as well as Arlington National Cemetery, where we watched the Changing of the Guard ritual. What an impressive and humbling experience that was! If you have never seen this, I recommend taking the time to visit, pay your respects, and reflect upon the sacrifices made by so many. It is truly amazing!
When I began my career as a tax accountant, I certainly didn’t expect to have much opportunity to travel to unusual places. I reasoned that those types of experiences would need to wait until I reached something closer to retirement age. But while I am still many years away from that milestone, my career has already taken me to two foreign countries in Southeast Asia, as well as back to Washington D.C. for numerous meetings and advocacy projects, at both the state and national levels. These experiences have impressed upon me a variety of life lessons, which constantly push me to learn and grow.
First of all, I have learned that if you are in the right place at the right time, anything can happen. I once attended a scholarship award ceremony where they had a surprise drawing at the end of the night for an additional $500 scholarship. It was not announced until they were ready to draw the name of the recipient and you had to be present to win. Although I didn’t win, I remember they called it the Woody Allen award and referenced his quote about “Showing up is 80% of life.” That idea to show up ready and open to the unexpected has propelled me to do things that were sometimes completely outside of my comfort zone. Whether it was being open to a new job responsibility, volunteering for a service committee, or applying for a position on a technical leadership panel, I knew these activities would significantly challenge me. But it was by responding to those challenges, that I experienced real personal and professional growth.
So second, I have learned that there is no substitute for hard work. You not only have to show up and be present, you must also be committed. What started out as a volunteer position on the ISCPA CPE Committee led to other local committees, volunteer service with the Idaho State Tax Commission, a position on the ISCPA Board, and eventually to a leadership position on a Technical Committee of the AICPA. With each increase to my responsibilities, I found myself being stretched. If I had not been committed to the groups’ objectives, I would not have been provided with these opportunities, nor would I have achieved the same results.
And third, I have learned that there is a season for everything and that the Changing of the Guard is inevitable in all areas of life. Sometimes those transitions are relatively easy and seamless. Next month my position on the Board of the Idaho Society will end. My three-year term of service with the AICPA Technical Resource Panel will end next May. But there are other transitions that are life-changing and difficult. A year ago at this time, I lost my Mom to pancreatic cancer. Her fight was brief, but fierce. In wrestling with this unexpected loss, I have realized that not only did my Mother pass me the baton, but she also rekindled my passion to live a productive and purposeful life. It isn’t enough to push off the important things for a more convenient time.
If you want to make a change in your life, make that change… Devote your time to the people who mean the most. Dream big! Take those trips while you are young enough and healthy enough to enjoy it. (We are heading to South Africa for a bucket list Safari in June!) And finally, be sure to invest time to mentor, help, and guide those who are coming behind you. They are the ones who will take up the Guard when your time is finished!
P.S. Remember to keep your dreams in front of you as a source of inspiration & motivation!