Our perspective on something influences everything. The magazine, Inc., has a good article on “Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life”. 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.
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.
 https://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/change-your-perspective-change-your-life.html by @nicholascole77, published April 26, 2016.