How Changing My Perspective Led to My Career

Our perspective on something influences everything. The magazine, Inc., has a good article on “Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life”[1]. The author made some really good points:

  • You are “successful” when are you are walking your path, always learning, always growing.
  • You are “doing what you love” when you see every moment as an opportunity.
  • It’s up to you to discover what that opportunity is.
  • Focus on the lesson, not the problem.
  • Lessons are everywhere. It’s on you to find them.
  • Shifting your perspective is what makes all the difference.
Open the door to what? 
That's always the mystery.
Open the door to what? That’s always the mystery.

My career in state taxes happened this very way. A recession was going on and my employer was going under. I had a family to support and the only job I could find was doing state taxes. It wasn’t my favorite thing, but it was the only offer I could find.

The reason why? No one else wanted to do it. My peers wanted jobs in federal and international taxation. They were willing to risk unemployment for it. I had done state taxes and while it wasn’t my favorite, I could make a living doing it while others were losing their homes and for some, their marriages.

And I came to find, I was very very good at it. All the things that made me an average federal person, made me a very good state tax person. I didn’t understand that until I was doing it full-time (prior to this, I did it as part of my other work).

Federal taxes requires attention to many details and minutia. Get one wrong and it’s big dollars.

But state taxes is a volume operation. You have many many tax returns to get out, whether it’s state income tax, sales tax, property tax, business licenses, annual reports or unclaimed property. Every state has different rules, different forms, and in many instances, local taxes (county, city and special districts). And they’re all done differently.

To do state taxes well, I had to be highly organized, keep track of multiple details, understand the federal return and workpapers, and not miss deadlines (which were also highly inconsistent).

So what changed? My perspective. I knew I’d be doing state taxes for a while and my odds of getting back into federal were low. No one wanted to do what I was doing and my employer could hire people for federal any time they wanted.

I worked hard to learn the field and my job. It sucked, it wasn’t what I wanted, but since I was there, I wanted to make the best of it. It turned into a lucrative career for me and kept me employed for as long as I wanted to work. In fact, after retiring in 2015 and again in 2018, I came back to work earlier this year for a part-time position doing state taxes.

Over the years, I’ve had many interns. Quite a few of them believed me that state taxes was a good thing to know even if they chose to not make a career out of it. The more I preached that this was fun, it was good to know, and at some point it would help their career, the more they believe me and opened up to the experience it gave them. For a number of them, it helped their job interviews and career because it distinguished them from other employees and get ahead of the crowd because they knew more than just federal.

But changing my perspective was what made the difference in having a great career, helping / mentoring employees, and being a success in the workplace.

[1] by @nicholascole77, published April 26, 2016.

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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

18 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Those beginning points describe my philosophy to a T.

    There really is a learning experience every way you turn as well as shifting perception making your life and personal growth boom.

    Just remembering that every negative situation is temporary and that there are other people out there that are worse off can help!

    Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks for the comment! After reading your blog, I can see why this post appealed to you. You’ve written about multiple examples of this.

      For me, the learning experience can be hard especially if I’m an unwilling participant in it. But there’s usually no choice and I have to do it regardless of my feelings on it.


      • In most learning experiences, we are unwilling participants. We learn through mistakes and situations that force us to change. Though the conditions are far less than ideal, the outcome is to our benefit. In your case, you discovered something that you ended up being great at and even ended up mentoring young people and increasing their success in life.
        I would say that’s a win.

  2. That’s a very good list. I would add one more – Reflect on yourself. I say that because I spent many years as a teacher. Too many teachers have it in their head that just because they are the ones leading their class, they are good at it.

    • Frank – I think that’s an excellent point. I keep journals, which really help me with that. And like you, I see it at work too. It’s frustrating and disappointing to have a boss who knows it all and doesn’t want feedback from the staff.

  3. Love the image, Nancy. I think it takes a while for people to learn how your perspective can change your reality. You illustrated that really well with your own experiences. :)

    • Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And I agree – it does take a while to realize that our perspective does change our reality. That wasn’t the first time I’d had a hard lesson in it, but it was still difficult. I really didn’t want to change fields but wow did it work out well.

  4. A really interesting “perspective” Nancy – and I really loved the image you chose to illustrate it. I had a similar experience early in my career. All about being open to possibilities along the way, right?!

    • I’d worked on that image several years ago for a different project. It was a good project for working on more Photoshop skills.
      But yep, we have to be open to all the possibilities! And you’re a great example of that!

    • I never thought I’d unretire for the third time! And for part-time work too! I’m glad I have these skills because I agree that I wouldn’t have met you otherwise. I’m glad I can contribute and make a difference even now.


  5. This was wonderful insight into your life. Since I don’t understand taxes at all, I am grateful for anybody that does them – federal or state. Sometimes picking the undesirable road leads to a much better tomorrow than the popular road. Thank you for sharing your stories. I love reading them.

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