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I don't want to be an accountant anymore.

I don't want to be an accountant anymore.

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We see a lot of posts about people who are looking to take their first step on the ladder, but I'm afraid I'm quite desperate to get off! After a long period of illness (pneumonia) in which I forced myself to not work at all in order to recover properly (something I don't normally do and I am constantly ill as a result), I have taken a brutally honest look at my life and decided I am just not happy in my career. It's never come naturally to me and I have struggled every step of the way. Seven years down the line, I find myself with a very modest practice only just making enough money to scrape by, but just not enjoying it all. Previous to my career in practice I had a reasonably successful corporate career, which I very much enjoyed. I now have two children in infant school so I sincerely doubt I would be happy if I were to go back to industry even on a part time basis and I honestly feel I am completely unemployable as I have become accustomed to having complete control over where and when I work (the only part of being in practice I enjoy).

Unfortunately I cannot afford not to work and there are very few career paths that will afford me the level of income I have enjoyed, with the same level of freedom (I would say work life balance but having been pestered all hours of the day by clients, particularly at times when they are aware that I am trying to look after my children, ie school holidays etc this has definitely not been the case).

Is there some kind of accountancy rehabilitation program those leaving the profession can reintegrate with the rest of society? Is it feasible to expect to be able to sell my practice? And if not, what is the best way to wind it down without any detrimental effects on my clients? My GRF is approx £30k so I don't think it would be a terribly attractive prospect.

In summary, I feel completely burnt out. I have lots of creative (non accountancy) ideas that I would love to pursue, but can't drag myself out of my self-pity long enough to attack with any real enthusiasm. I would dearly love to be involved in the not for profit industry and I dream of having access to capital that would allow me to pursue an idea for educational resources to teach teenagers about money management in the real world in particular the dangers of debt (an issue close to my heart).

Sorry for the rambling and thank you in advance to anyone who can provide any advice or guidance. Even if it is to pull myself together and get on with it!!!


Replies (59)

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By Mouse007
24th Oct 2013 23:45

Big Hugs

been through worse and survived, trust me.


when I came out from the other side


to this day no one (here) knows what prompted that out burst...


beyond darkness there is light, hold on mate, hold on.



Thanks (2)
By Yoshik
25th Oct 2013 05:43


I would be happy to talk about taking on the practice subject to agreement for purchase.

Perhaps we could talk?


Thanks (1)
By stepurhan
25th Oct 2013 08:18

Creative outlets

What sort of creative ideas do you have? Are they something that could be used to make money? I know a lot of wonderfully creative people who struggle to make ends meet with brilliant, but poorly attended, shows, so you have to look at these carefully if you are going down that route.

Perhaps you should approach local practices with the idea of coming on as an employee and bringing your portfolio along with you. This would allow your clients to keep the same contact, which may make them more likely to stay. You would still be in accountancy, but with the support of a firm, which might be enough to deal with the feelings you have now. You would have to accept you couldn't control everything you do any more though. For gains you sometimes have to make sacrifices as well.

If you're really set on getting rid of your client list, it might be an idea to say where in the country you are.

There are no easy solutions to your problems I'm afraid. I'm sure many others here will provide support and advice, and hopefully there will be something that works for you. Whatever happens, I wish you well and hope things get better in the future.

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By Tosie
25th Oct 2013 08:39


Is it possible to have a compromise.Find somebody to off load work on a temporary basis whilst you do a part time job.

Any sort of job would give you a break.

Don't rule out a practice sale but you are then without income having said that you will soon get into the routine of working for somebody else and the buck does not stop with you.

I envy the cashiers at Tescos who when they sign off they can forget about the job.

I think for many of us sole practice is a no go. I had a good man Friday who kept me sane. After he qualified and moved on I was desperate and developed all sorts of phobias some of which I am still stuck with.You are not alone in your desperation,

It is difficult with small children working from home I think stepurhan suggestion is excellent.

I suppose you have tried the obvious things like joining a painting class or gym and talking to a counsellor.

Good luck things will get better.


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By ghewitt
25th Oct 2013 09:08

Have you thought about

Lion Taming?

Sorry, couldn't resist that one.

You have been honest with yourself and admitted what many won't. You hate your job.

Jiddu Krishnamurti said 'Do what you love'.

You said "I would dearly love to be involved in the not for profit industry and I dream of having access to capital that would allow me to pursue an idea for educational resources to teach teenagers about money management in the real world in particular the dangers of debt (an issue close to my heart)."

Do I hear a '..but' coming?

All the time you '...would dearly love to...' is exactly what you will do. It is the same with people who say 'I wish I could give up smoking'. They remain wishes.

I expect fear is holding you back. Fear of failure; fear of what the neighbours might think or your friends and family. Maybe fear you might succeed - who knows but you.

There are lots of clichés that can be parroted off - 'nothing ventured, nothing gained' and the like, which are very irritating to the recipient. But the fact of the matter is we know they are true; and what is more irritating than the truth staring us in the face?

Kick the 'But', pun intended, into touch and start making enquiries into what you would love to do. Start pushing the doors open and walking through; very soon you will find they open on their own and you will be doing what you love. Instead of merely 'loving' to do it.


Thanks (3)
Time for change
By Time for change
25th Oct 2013 08:48

In all my thirty one years in practice

I think that this has been the worst one for me too.

I've been through numerous recessions along the journey but none have been as aggressive and prolonged as this one. New cases are coming through but, some of those who I've acted for, throughout my business life, have either; retired or, in many cases, have simply come to the end of their lives. New cases are coming along but, in many situations, this is just moving the furniture (cases leaving other accountants) rather than truly new business.

I'll have to weather the storm, so to speak and hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that; many of your contemporaries will be in a similar situation and you have to be careful what decisions you take now,which will impact on yours and your families future.

Your illness is not something you can ignore, I'm afraid. I would venture to suggest that stress could be among the many factors which brought about the condition?

Whatever your decision is, I wish you well in the future. You've been a good friend to many on this site and have bared your soul on more than one occasion. That takes courage and its now our turn to encourage you to; think clearly, think carefully and, most of all, think decisively.

Have faith, be bold and, even now, you still can be what you really want to be. It really is never too late.

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By wilcoskip
25th Oct 2013 09:10

You need a break

I've been where you are.  My practice was in control of me rather than me being in control of it.  Bad situation all round.

In the end I closed it down and temporarily went to work for someone else.  Whilst the lack of control over my workday took some getting used to, it was more than compensated for by the freedom of leaving work for the day and just being able to stop.  Or going on holiday and being able to switch off.

After about 3 years of this I found myself with a practice again, having taken it over from someone I worked for who retired from ill health.  This time round I had better ground rules for myself, and I was working with an idea of what sort of practice I wanted.

All of which is to say: there is light at the end of the tunnel, but to get there you may have to let go of what you have and move on.

Informal approaches to local practices may secure you some sort of payout for your client list.  This might at least give you some weeks' breathing space before taking your next step forward

All the best.  There is a way forward.


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By petersaxton
25th Oct 2013 10:14

What is the cause of the problem?

Is it accountancy or is it the clients?

Maybe you have just accepted a lot of bad clients?

Maybe you should look for different types of clients?

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Replying to johnjenkins:
By Maslins
25th Oct 2013 11:08

You need a change

petersaxton wrote:

Is it accountancy or is it the clients?

Maybe you have just accepted a lot of bad clients?

Maybe you should look for different types of clients?


However it does seem like you need to do/change something.  This isn't a one off bad day type rant from you, I've seen a fair few of these.

Agree that approaching a bigger firm might be a good move.  They may be prepared to give you some cash for the clients (though you'll need to pretend they're good clients!)  You can probably then work for the practice part time to keep continuity for the client, but also lots of the work itself on those clients can then potentially be done by other junior staff in the practice.  It may be that you grow to like it again, sharing the stress with others...or alternatively it may be that you move onto something completely different a year down the line.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
25th Oct 2013 10:14

Listen to stephurhan

I think the idea of joining a bigger practice and getting a cash payment for bringing your clients is a great idea. You stay for a period of time - say 12 months to assist with the handover (or you could tell them you want to be an employee/associate or whatever).

Just think you could work with the firm for say 12 months, giving you  a segregation of work and home live.

You'd have regular income for a 9-5 day or whatever hours you decide on. You can then spend your free time to develop your other ideas.

Then in 12 months time you may have a better idea of exactly what you want to do.

This way you have options and have income still coming in.

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By Mathswizard
25th Oct 2013 11:25

Been there

I do genuinely feel your pain, just recovering from a six week bout of bronchitis which followed up two rounds of pneumonia (one of which needed a hospital stay due to septicemia) and I lost my mother in July, now having to deal with problems with the estate.

I feel this is a real downside of working alone, we get isolated and soldier on because we have to, if we don't do the payroll/CIS/VAT accounts, who will and we cannot leave it as there are penalties to pay if we don't get things done on time.

Please don't make any rash decisions, if you seel your practice it is gone and building a new one is not an option feeling the way you do now.

May I suggest you share your workload, take on a part qualified or semi retired person which allows you to carry on without any major changes, just some respite. This should free up enough time to explore other possibilites, your local 6th form college or academy may offer an opening for part time tuition of youngsters on life skills around money management. 

I am in East Anglia (Suffolk) if I am close enough for mutual support ?

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By jaybee661
25th Oct 2013 11:39

@Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

I really do feel your pain - on 26th September my wife went into hospital for a operation but it all sadly went wrong and, a month later, she is still in intensive care, expected to be in hospital for another 5-7 weeks.

It really has affected my work but I think if I hadn't been working for myself things would have been a lot worse with regards to getting time off - it's just one of the reasons I am SO glad I have got my own practice, even though things are incredibly difficult just at the moment.

I have to say my clients have been so understanding, it's been uplifting really, but in relation to your post I really couldn't imagine giving up my practice and my lovely clients to go and work for someone!

I know we're not far from each other so would be delighted to meet up again at some point and chew things over - running a practice is really hard and I have to say I am not earning a fortune by any means but I really wouldn't want to throw away (if that's the right expression) everything I have built up since 2001 as my practice does still really excite me.

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25th Oct 2013 12:26

Osho said...

OK, so Osho's bitten the dust, and he was a real nut-cracker whilst alive, but he said some very wise things in amongst all the "challenging" stuff... one of which is that we rarely appreciate what we have. Now I don't mean to say that you are in a brilliant position, yet just don't see it. You're obviously having a real lousy time. But the alternatives might be much worse, especially if your health isn't good ... change makes huge demands on a person, and to safely ride out serious change you need to be in tip-top form. So maybe just be honest with your clients, ask them to bear with you, and if you lose a few, at least you are losing the ones you really want to lose. The good ones will stay, might even help you through the crisis, and you might find you can ride this one out.

Often what we wish for is not that practical .... but if your wish list includes some options that the worst devil's advocate would have to admit to being worth a try, then definitely go for them. But be brutally honest when looking at "more desirable" options. Rose-tinted glasses bear vicious thorns.

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By hannahaston
25th Oct 2013 12:36

Tough decision

I understand where you are coming from, I took over my Father;s business a few years ago and it has gone from strength to strength but not without it's pitfalls. I too have two small children, my youngest is 4 months old and I am already back behind the seems I am on call constantly even when I was in the labour ward I had a client phoning me!! Even though I had sent out letters informing them I would be unavailable for a couple of months and that my Father was back in the driving seat for a while.

I am extremely fortunate that he still works for me part-time but he wants to fully retire in a couple of years so I will look at selling a 'block' of clients and keeping the ones I can manage. It was a nightmare over the summer as we were both off at the same time on holiday as my parents came away with us, it just seems that HMRC don't make things easy being a 'one man band' what with the new RTI system and all the penalties that come with filing CIS/VAT returns late.

Good luck with whatever you decide, I've often thought about jacking it in and working at least you get a good discount :))


All the best x

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
25th Oct 2013 14:03

not easy

I do sympathise. Especially as I chose to move OUT of practice 7 years ago - albeit I wasn't running my own firm.

There are some good ideas above from people better qualified than I to advise on it.

Your creative juices and desire to work in the not for profit sector with a solid financial backing behind you is one I am sure many of us can relate to. But for most of us it remains a dream.

What I have found helpful over the years when faced with the need to big career decisions is an idea derived from one of Edward De Bono's books.  You may find it helpful too:

Pose yourself a specific challenge or idea and write this down as a question across the top of a piece of paper. eg: Should I sell my practice?

Divide the paper into 3 equal sized columns to create a PMU.

The first will be for (P) Plus points ie:reasons that support the idea (of selling your practice).The second is for (M) minus points ie: reasons why NOT to do it.the third column is for the (U) unknowns. 

This process can help you to unpack the issues swirling around in your head. Many of the things you initially think are Plus or Minus points may in fact be Unknowns - things about which you will need to find out more before you can KNOW whether they are real issues (plus or minus).

The answer to your problem won't come from simply looking to see which list (plus or minus) is the longest because some off the issues you list will be more important than others. But by unpicking the issues like this and gathering the additional information you need, you find it much easier to make your decision as to the way forward.

Hope that helps


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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
25th Oct 2013 14:11


Its not for everyone.

From a small practice point of view I bet you would make an excellent grade 1 assistant if you can partner up with the right firm who values you for the work you do, and if you bring some clients (good opportunity to sack the bad ones) then it might work well. 



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By tom123
25th Oct 2013 14:47

What small changes could you make today.

It is tempting to think that very big changes are needed to improve one's life - especially when things seem a bit bleak.

Perhaps there are some more smaller changes you could make in the short term. Did you finally manage to offload the client records that you were storing, and thus taking up space?

For me, I know that 'stuff' equals stress. I have three clients (so you can see it is a tiny p/t business on top of a f/t job) - but it made a real difference once I bought matching lever arch files so everything looked neat. That may sound silly to most - but it stopped me dreading even opening the files.

Could you send out a letter to your clients asking for all records to be received by November 1st, or else have a price uplift - that may bring some control.

Why not set a timeline of 6 months from now, and promise yourself to pack it in if you still feel the same at that time -

You never know, in 6 months the busy season will be behind you, you should have some decent funds in, and things will seem very different,

Whatever happens - keep in touch on Aweb. I am sure 'former' accountants are still allowed membership....


Good luck as always.

Thanks (3)
By petersaxton
25th Oct 2013 15:18

Maybe it's just me

but I can't think of many better careers than a practising accountant - OK, professional footballer springs to mind!

I can't make out what you don't like about your work.

I would think you should let your dreams remain just that.

Just analyse what is wrong with your work now and change that. I don't see the point of some radical change to something that seems to be much worse.

You say you need the flexibility of your present role. I think there's very few jobs that will beat that.

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Nichola Ross Martin
By Nichola Ross Martin
25th Oct 2013 17:38

Have a proper break.

If your GRF is £30k then accept £30k, as that is an easily saleable sum and unless your clients are all old most buyers will aim to develop the business in all those fees and increase their take. I would take a part-time job to tide you over (bookkeeping is always an easy choice) and then chill out and plan the future. You sound depressed and stressed, so remove the stress and then focus on your mind. Mark above recommended some positive thinking books, but one of my favourites is Stephen R Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I never remember all the habits (!) but the ones which stick are: to be proactive and not reactive, sort out time your management, and begin with the end in mind (you have to read the book to work that one out fully, but basically it calls on you to look at your self at the end of your life and imagine what you would like people to think/say about you). Hoping that I have not confused that book with another one, but another thing which makes you feel good is to walk down the street and smile at everyone. Most people smile back and the ones the don't - hey who cares?

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By petersaxton
25th Oct 2013 17:57

Selling your business?

You'll have a lot more problems than some of the above comments appear to make out.

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By Flash Gordon
25th Oct 2013 19:20

Tweak it

Personally I'd go with the advice that

a, recommends looking at what you've got now and why it doesn't suit you, then making plans to change those things. Because you've got a business that you've built up and your circumstances suit you


b, making BML's list of pluses and minuses - make it reasons to stay or give up and see what your gut says. If you find yourself coming up with possible reasons why you should jack it in but you're finding excuses why they're not that important and don't really merit going on the list then your gut is saying stick with it. And vice versa. It's worked for me before because it shows me what really matters. 

Then add an extra bit of advice

c, Make a list of all the things you want to do, pick one or two that leap off the page at you and break them down into steps, as small as you can. Then you've no excuse not to start because there will be a tiny step that you can begin with. You may find that if you're making time (note - not finding time, making time) to do fun stuff then you'll feel more positive about your practice because you won't feel like its all you do.

And finally

d, Tell us what you decide and why! And don't make any rush decisions (not that I think you would).

Fingers crossed whatever you do works out well for you. 

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By tonyh
26th Oct 2013 16:43

market for stand in accountants

I  am sure there must be a market for stand in accountants.

Just imagine the bliss if we could just step aside and forget about everything for a week or two in the knowledge that a competent person was dealing with everything.

The hardest part of our job for me is the penalty regime. We are the only profession that is subject to such a hard regime.A day late £100 fine.A simple mistake that could lead to severe penalties meanwhile HMRC can make as many mistakes without any redress.


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By Sarah Offord
26th Oct 2013 23:11

Thank you for the slightly overwhelming responses!

Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to respond to my post, the response has been slightly overwhelming!


Selling my practice to someone who would employ me part time for an agreed time sounds ideal and I have just the person in mind. I'm not sure how the mechanics of it would work, but this could give me the space I need to put some energy into a career change. Thank you!


Thank god it's not just me that is in envy of the Tesco check out people. I did a lot of work waitressing and working in supermarkets when I was at university and I do long for the kind of job you could leave at the door at the end of the day. I fear however, my husband would divorce me if I took at minimum wage job and had to work 5 x the hours just to keep us in the relative poverty we are accustomed to!


The 'but' is the massive risk that I will find myself without an income with 2 small children and 2 huge mortgages (both on the same meagre house, long story). We have no savings and struggle to pay the bills as it is. Unless we were to sell the house (we are in negative equity...still) and declare ourselves bankrupt to settle all of the unsecured debts we would end up in a very grim position. It's a pretty miserable feeling, when you feel trapped in a job that you don't enjoy with no wriggle room at all.


I have many lovely clients who I like on a personal and professional level. I also have a handful who take advantage of my good nature as I am always keen to be as helpful and supportive as possible.


I'm in Hampshire so a bit far to provide mutual support. Thank you for your kind offer though and I hope you are fully recovered now!


Sorry to hear your wife has been so unwell, I hope she makes a very speedy recovery. Would be good to catch up for another coffee sometime. I just need to stop being ill long enough to catch up with my workload!


I would like to think I would be a good assistant, I'm not sure how much call there would be for this and what I could expect to earn?


The million pound question - why don't I enjoy my business? On paper it is ideal; a good income, lots of variety and the flexibility to take care of my young family. The fact I cannot give a solid reason why I'm unhappy in my business says a lot. I can't really put my finger on it. I seem to be bubbling with lots of ideas for businesses and charities that I would like to start and I become very enthusiastic putting together detailed financial projections and business plans. But I can't give any of the ideas I have the focus they need to even make a solid start so they are doomed to failure.

I have read every self help book I can lay my hands on; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the e-myth, the accountant's version of the e-myth right, right through to Shut up and Move on (SUMO) to name but a few. I think the point has come where I need to accept I have tried for 7 long years to make this work, I've looked at myself and my habits, I've looked at my clients and trying to change the way we work with each other. I've jettisoned some truly awful clients and lost some that I really enjoyed working for. Through all this I have come to the conclusion that it is not the end of the world if at the age of 32, having dedicated the past 13 years of my life training and pursuing a career in accountancy, if I try something completely new.

Thank you once again to everyone. The Aweb community has been so supportive, I honestly don't know where I would be without you all!


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By albuck
27th Oct 2013 03:23

suggest you listen to a podcast

I know very little about the details of your situation other than you are struggling and considering a change of career.  Maybe a certain podcast episode applies to your situation.  Listen to the story of someone in the same situation as you, and you decide:

The lesson of the Jet Ski Millionaire begins at 56:00 minutes, and is revisited in the next episode.  I couldn't get the embedded player to seek to that point, so you probably have to download the MP3.

If you think that lesson might apply to you, the first six episodes might solve your problems.




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By petersaxton
27th Oct 2013 08:49

I'm worried about you
You say you are not happy and would like to do something else. You say you are not happy but you don't seem to be able to put your finger on it. If you are not happy with some clients then tell them what they need to do different or get rid of them. All these other things seem to be pipe dreams or not very practical given your circumstances. If you think you would be happier with these other things then do them to a small extent alongside your present practice even if you have to get rid of some of the clients you don't like. Most people seem to be in favour of you burning your bridges. I know I can be a bit worried about changing things too radically and I have been proved wrong in the past but selling your practice is a big change that will be difficult to put right if you change your mind. Don't think of changing unless you can analyse it properly and also analyse what else you can do and consider whether you can test your new ideas. You might just be somebody who is never happy with their lot!

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By petersaxton
27th Oct 2013 08:50

Sorry about the formatting above!

It formatted perfectly but when I posted it appeared differently.

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By tom123
27th Oct 2013 09:06

This may sound odd - but have you thought about voluntary work

I appreciate you are probably very busy, at all hours, with family as well as work but I found taking on some voluntary work (in my case a charity trustee and school governor) gave a bit of variety and a change from some of the drudgery of work / home / work.

I am trying to encourage getting a bit of space away from work to help to approach the work in a fresh light.

You have been doing it for 13 years, so you must be doing something right!!.

This may also be too personal for an anonymous thread - but have you considered you may be a bit depressed? In which case you should see your doctor.

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Replying to CalCarver:
By Sarah Offord
27th Oct 2013 20:26

Voluntary Work

tom123 wrote:

I appreciate you are probably very busy, at all hours, with family as well as work but I found taking on some voluntary work (in my case a charity trustee and school governor) gave a bit of variety and a change from some of the drudgery of work / home / work.

I am trying to encourage getting a bit of space away from work to help to approach the work in a fresh light.

You have been doing it for 13 years, so you must be doing something right!!.

This may also be too personal for an anonymous thread - but have you considered you may be a bit depressed? In which case you should see your doctor.

I have spent the past 5 years on one local committee or another as Treasurer. I've always tried my best but always struggled as I always seem to be so busy and have so little time available to provide the support that is needed. My stint on the local PTA ended particularly badly as the Chair at the time was a full time mum with no other commitments and much older children who gave a phenomenal amount of time and energy to the role and expected the rest of us to commit in the same way. She was fantastic for the committee but I just couldn't give the same commitment and she ended up bullying me off the committee. A particularly dark hour for me, but I went down swinging! I hate bullies!

I do suffer with severe depression and anxiety and have been heavily medicated for the past 2-3 years. It's a bit chicken and egg in that respect. It's plausible that the depression is caused by my dire financial situation, which prevents me from running my business well and in turn fuels the depression and my money problems. Or it could be I have chosen the wrong career path, which has led to the depression as I am unhappy in my career, which then fuels my money problems when I feel too low to get on with my work. When life is so hectic it's very difficult to be able to self-diagnose the root cause of the problems and know how to get on the right track. I'm very lucky that so many of the Aweb community have offered support and advice, as the process of bearing my soul has been really helpful.

Thank you again for all of the advice and support!




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By ShirleyM
27th Oct 2013 09:21

Maybe the root problem is your financial situation

If you have financial problems this can lead to depression, constant worry, and a feeling of no escape. This is a vicious circle in that the depression causes other problems, and it cycles out of control.

Have you looked really hard at ways to reduce your costs? Few people are truly unable to reduce costs. It's tough ... but better than the alternatives, and it gives you some control, which helps psychologically.

I know you are a nice person, and this makes you the sort of person who will treat their children (even though you can't really afford it), go the extra mile(s) for clients (even though they won't pay you extra), let your hubby treat himself (without complaint, even though you know you can't really afford it) and allow other people to take from you and you feel that 'everyone' expects you to somehow magic up the time & money to keep it all going.

Try to look at your situation from another persons perspective. Be brutally honest with yourself. You can improve the situation, but not if you are wearing blinkers. You need to get tough!


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By Flash Gordon
27th Oct 2013 10:36

What advice would you give?

I agree with Shirley.

If you had to give your best friend advice in this situation what would you say?

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By tom123
27th Oct 2013 12:43

Since we are talking about cost cutting

I really recommend Aldi, and have been using it for all our shopping for over two years. For a family of three we spend about £60 per week, including all household cleaners, and some wine etc.

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By DawnT
27th Oct 2013 18:56



Are you East or West Hampshire? I am on the Hampshire/Dorset border and would be happy to meet if close enough.

I am a sole practioner with 2 children and only set up in practice about 18 months ago. I have good days and not so good days and would be happy to help you if I could............



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By Sarah Offord
27th Oct 2013 20:36

Sorry just came across this and it sums up how I feel perfectly!


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By dbowleracca
27th Oct 2013 21:44

I know you can overcome this
I'm sorry to hear about your situation and how you feel about the business and being an accountant. However, I know you can get out of this and be happy.

Number one, you have an income at present and have pretty much total control over that income to an extent. Many people would love to be in that situation.

2, you've got an asset ( the fees) that you can sell - again many people would love that.

3, you have your children, husband, family and friends.

4, you have experience and a qualification (?), that will allow you to work until retirement and find jobs much more easily than others.

So, lots of thing to be grateful and happy for.

I think that you should write down what parts of your job you enjoy an which you don't, and see what you come up with. You might see a pattern that means certain types of work are definitely not for you and you can either outsource them, or stop doing them altogether.

If you could grow the turnover of your practice to say £60k, with good profits and only goo clients, without working twice as hard, would you take that?

Thanks (1)
Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
27th Oct 2013 23:57

Look after your health


I know you have explained about your debt but your happiness , children and marriage are far more important.

 I have suffered illness with Spina Bfida operations and ear surgery over the last 15 year in practice .

Each time I had to stop work and 4 times over 15 years I have had to pass quite a few clients to other practices.   You learn to live on the money you are earning.  You have to give yourself time to recover and you get up and start again.  In my case I suffer from severe pain at times  and in your case you have admitted to depression.    Your children do not care about money or what they have.  They want a happy mum.   I had ear surgery 8 weeks ago and not everything was okay at first but it really worried my son and to see his smile on his face when everything went back to normal was great.   

If you want to take a break and get a full time job packing shelfs and meeting new people and having a laugh then that is what you should do.  It is not always a bad thing.  

My husband did it to get out of IBM.  He was very well paid but it drained him everyday and he  was miserable . He went and worked in Sainsburys night packing and is now running his own waste disposal sepa business in Glasgow.   I moved to my new office in Feb .  Yes we struggled and had a lot less money for a while then many here on the forum but both my husband and I are happy now at our work and back to the income we were.  Sometimes taking a break is good thing and reminds you there is more to life than accounts.  I now have backup plans for my work if I feel overloaded.  I hope this helps 



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By petersaxton
28th Oct 2013 00:55

You can't always

give up what you have got and work for less just to be happy if your financial situation doesn't allow it. If you are in negative equity and have a relatively big mortgage it's usually just not practical to reduce your income.

Rather than sell your practice I think you have to look for changes to improve your happiness within the practice.

My opinion is that your financial situation is making you unhappy not your practice. Obviously I don't know your situation well enough but it would appear that way to me.


Thanks (1)
Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
28th Oct 2013 08:11

Without knowing

Hi Peter 

Without knowing the poster.  I understand what you are saying but I was also thinking long term a short break when your health is not the best and I am speaking from experience and did not on  some occasions have a choice . We also had a mortgage to pay. It can help with the income in the long term. So you may me right.  I just hope Sir Digby makes the right choice.  Everyone has different interpretations to how much money is needed to live.   Yes you would have to cut back.  It is not giving up, it is looking at something for the long term and surving and if you do suffer from depression to find happiness.  I was,nt meaning to sound flippant.


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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
28th Oct 2013 10:13


In terms of assistants, I cant speak for anyone else, but I employ a qualified who is "acting down" to an extent (she has family commitments and doesn't want to run a business). She gets £20 a hour for every hour worked.

Demand for good people is always high.


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By neileg
28th Oct 2013 10:33

@DC Another view

I bailed out of practice 23 years ago and have never regretted it. I also bailed out of accountancy for quite a while running a deli, freelancing in journalism even a stint as a project manager in engineering. I loved it all. I'm back in finance in the public sector and face redundancy on a quarterly basis but I really like the job.

Falling out of love with accountancy isn't a sin and its a set of skills you'll never loose. I'm living proof that there are alternatives and maybe it's right for you to make a move. Only you can tell.

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Nichola Ross Martin
By Nichola Ross Martin
28th Oct 2013 18:34

Teaming up with others

I would invite you to come and spend a few working weeks in our offices if we were closer - there is safety in numbers!

Sorry if I am repeating any advice given (its a long thread) but there will be other people like you in your area, so try getting together - when I had an accountancy practice I found that employing people like me with young kids was good - everyone was in the same boat in struggling for their home-life balance.

The other thing is cognitive behaviour therapy. I know you say you have read all the books but you can't beat a good counsellor, if you have tried medication you will have tried counselling but it is a case of just finding the right one. There are a lot of really interesting techniques that help you de-stress and re-energise your thought patterns but I think that sitting down one to one with another human is a strong course of action when you feel that you have hit rock bottom or cannot come out from under the duvet.

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By ghewitt
28th Oct 2013 12:20

It's all choice.

Everything that happens to us is the result of a choice we made. We are responsible. When we take responsibility we stop looking for someone or something to blame for our predicament. We empower ourselves. We take back the power from those we gave it to: our doctor, our spouse, our workmates, our employer and anyone else.

We stop being ‘poor little me’ and all the sympathy that that mind set attracts – and attract it, it does. It is easy to wallow in the  ‘there, there, poor you have these pills, lie down, rest, be kind to yourself, it’s not so bad, it will all become okay in the end’. And we respond ‘yes, yes I will take the pills, I will lie down, life is so hard to me, it’s not my fault the big bad wolf will go away; tuck me up warm and safe’.

Empowered we can say ‘I got me into this; I will get me out of it’ and with this mindset we throw off all the ‘there, there’s’ and get to sorting ourselves out.

You said

“The million pound question - why don't I enjoy my business? On paper it is ideal; a good income, lots of variety and the flexibility to take care of my young family. The fact I cannot give a solid reason why I'm unhappy in my business says a lot. I can't really put my finger on it”.

I don’t know why you don’t enjoy your business; but you do.

Yes you do.

The person we lie to most convincingly (and it doesn’t take much) is ourselves.

We just don’t like the answer; but we do know it.

So we

‘…read every self help book I can lay my hands on; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the e-myth, the accountant's version of the e-myth right, right through to Shut up and Move on (SUMO) to name but a few’, in the hope they will tell us something more palatable, or will excuse us (there, there).

The answer is not in ‘self help’ books (if it were there would be no problems in the world, judging by the plethora of them) but it is within you. You hold the answer. Your happiness is your responsibility, not your clients (awful or otherwise); not your spouse’s or your children’s. It is all yours. You make the choices. Now doesn’t that give you great power over your life?

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By tonyh
28th Oct 2013 12:40

normal reaction

Frankly I cannot imagine anybody in your situation not being utterly stressed out.You have situation depression and I cannot see any answer to your situation unless you get rid of your debts. What has happened to the family member to whom you lent the money ?

Modern thinking is that talking to a therapist can help but you need practical help as well.

Have you discussed with CIMa your situation should you go bankrupt.?

Over the last forty years I have dealt with numerous businesses who have been as desperate as you are now and once they made the decision to go bust they came back to life and free of debt they were able to start again.

Peter suggests that you maybe one of those people who are never happy but I am sure that Peter would not be happy in your situation I too would bury myself under the blanket.

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By petersaxton
28th Oct 2013 12:56

I might not be happy in her situation

but I wouldn't destroy the one good thing which is the practice and the income and flexibility it brings.

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By Sarah Offord
28th Oct 2013 15:41

At last the power is back on!


The family member is still in a very poor financial position themselves. We have written off the debt effectively as we will never see the money back.

Also I have applied to the CIMA benevolent officer today and am waiting to see if we qualify for any support. I won't hold my breath!


It's really encouraging to hear from others who have left accountancy to try something new. I'm particularly interested in the possibility of freelance journalism! How did that work out for you?


"If you could grow the turnover of your practice to say £60k, with good profits and only goo clients, without working twice as hard, would you take that?". Very good question, my husband would answer yes, but my gut instinct is that I would not be any happier and would still feel under a great deal of pressure. In order to successfully sustain a business like this I would need a huge shift in my current mindset and make significant change to the way I work and handle my business. If you had put this to me 7 years a go I would have relished the challenge. But right now I feel washed up and burnt out, with barely the enthusiasm to get out of bed. I'm exhausted and I'm fed up with feeling like my working life is a constant battle.


I have spent some time on cognitive behaviour therapy. I can highly recommend the website mindgym to anyone who is reading this and can relate to my situation.


I completely understand what you are saying and you are correct. My attitude to my career before starting a family was the complete polar opposite to my current mindset. I was enthusiastic, hardworking, confident in my abilities and my value to my employer and as a result received three very good promotions is a few years and several significant pay rises.I was only 23, newly qualified and at the top of my game. I was also a bit cocky if I'm honest but I think that served me well at the time!

It is very empowering to be reminded that I have ultimate control over my career. Indeed this has always been the case, and without the drive and determination I had early in my career I don't think I would have had the courage to take such a brave (and foolhardy?) move from corporate accounting into practice with no support or experience. I have come a long way since then and it has taken a phenomenal amount of determination and dedication to get my practice to the relatively modest success it has.

I don't have the energy to keep up the battle anymore. I'm hoping that a change really is as good as a rest, and a new perspective and career would help me rediscover that pushy arrogant young woman I used to be, who worked damn hard to get what she wanted and felt truly proud of her own achievements. Rather than the sickly, exhausted fed up 32 year old woman, who does seem to have a victim complex and is incapable to mustering the energy to take control of her own life.


Many thanks as always for the responses and support!


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By petersaxton
28th Oct 2013 15:52

New career

Starting a new career means starting at the bottom with little knowledge and experience. It will be much harder than changing your practice.

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By Sarah P
28th Oct 2013 16:08

I know this isn't Mumsnet, but


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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
28th Oct 2013 16:12


I would say being a bit pushy and (a little bit) arrogant is actually quite a good trait for an accountant. 

Getting out of the house in terms of an office share might be good, even going into a service office might be helpful for a bit of social interaction with people taller than your waist.  



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By ghewitt
29th Oct 2013 10:28


I don't have the energy to keep up the battle anymore. I'm hoping that a change really is as good as a rest, and a new perspective and career would help me rediscover that pushy arrogant young woman I used to be, who worked damn hard to get what she wanted and felt truly proud of her own achievements.

Why would you want to be that again? Isn't that the reason you are where you are?

It seems to me you are swimming up stream. You are fighting against the current. Now, many may say 'Way to go dude!'; 'No pain no gain'. You may say 'I'm struggling to get to the top; it will be worth it!'; chanting some learned mantra that pushes you on - you are a woman, show them, be the best, you can do it! Big House. Big car. Big bank balance. Big deal.

Then what?

There are any number of cheerleaders urging you on but the one beating you hardest with the 'stick of encouragement' is you.

Stop struggling and let go.

Go with the flow and you will find your life changes for you are not fighting the current of the system but the river of life.

You say you want a new perspective, but you are looking for it in the old one.

If you have a mind to, have a look at this video. It is Alan Watts on Music and Life. Do you see yourself?


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By neileg
29th Oct 2013 10:46


It's really encouraging to hear from others who have left accountancy to try something new. I'm particularly interested in the possibility of freelance journalism! How did that work out for you? 

I started writing an article on computer based accountancy. I ended up being a specialist in education and graphics software and print hardware for most of the news stand titles. The magazine market changed when computers became mainstream and not just for geeks and publishers went for an in house model and freelance work dried up.

There are plenty of magazines on the shelf, just pick your niche. You could be the star writer for What Tortoise or Personal Microwave. You have nothing to loose except a bit of time.

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By Ashlea
29th Oct 2013 11:50

I understand how you may be feeling. For women/men who are so involved with the day to day running and organisation of a home and family is a lot but add in the running and organisation of an accountancy practice is a major headache. I find myself needing an extra day in the weekend to really relax. I head the accountancy department where I work and it is difficult enough with the small amount of clients, trying to chase up and waiting on clients and HMRC means there is always an ongoing to-do-list.

I have realised how in order to have a career and successful job that I love I need to balance time for myself more than ever. This may not be how you feel, but if it is then take time to not think, not read, not do! Try Yoga, everyone suggests it but until i tried it I never knew what it was to switch off from the world and feel peace! Best wishes for whatever you choose!!

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