I Am a Millennial Accountant, and I Hate Accounting

By | January 21, 2016

Remember six months ago when I introduced my concept of the Accountapocalypse? We talked about offshoring, and the Rise of the Lifestyle Accountant. Your comments were both hilarious and thought provoking.

I haven’t written in-depth about Millennials as factor in the Accountapocalypse. Maybe it’s because Dennis Nally of PwC has done the talking for me, or that talking about Millennials is becoming as cliché as cloud accounting. I actually hate the word, and sweeping generalizations about generations. Or, perhaps it’s because as a Millennial, I am in denial that Tim Urban is right and I am an unhappy yuppy.

Ten years ago, I was 19 and had just started accounting at college. Since then I have accomplished some things in this profession; at least that’s what the rational part of my brain says. Despite this, I am miserable. Why? Because my expectations are irrational. I should be a billionaire like Zucks, I should own a basketball team like Cuban, but I’m not and I don’t, so I suck.

I remember when our firm won the Australian Accounting Award for Innovation. I was not expecting to win; we were toe-to-toe with KPMG and PwC. But we did, and after about five minutes of elation, I was thinking:

Okay that’s good Chris, but it’s not a GLOBAL innovation award. Australia is a small country, you can do better. Get back to work.

Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it does push me to keep moving forward. However, I worry that when I achieve some of my huge goals like getting Accodex to over 1,000 staff I will be as equally ambivalent as I was at the last career milestone.

I have also seen this phenomena work out in less productive ways for my friends in the accounting profession. As they don’t have clear expectations or clear sense of purpose, they end up depressed and see the profession as the source of their misery. Think about it. Did you choose accounting because it was a respectable, secure decision, or did you choose it because it was your calling in life? Once again Tim Urban nailed it:

Cal Newport points out that “follow your passion” is a catchphrase that has only gotten going in the last 20 years, according to Google’s Ngram viewer, a tool that shows how prominently a given phrase appears in English print over any period of time.  The same Ngram viewer shows that the phrase “a secure career” has gone out of style, just as the phrase “a fulfilling career” has gotten hot.

 

Honestly, I have not met many young accountants that are legitimately passionate about their work. Most are just going through the motions because that’s the responsible thing to do.

My early 20s were dedicated to finding meaning in the work I was doing:

I am so glad I have found a sense of purpose, it made a huge difference in my life. That said, I’m always going to be an unhappy yuppy, whose expectations will never be met. Because I’m a Millennial.

So forget the what all the reports and companies are saying. Fuck your casual work environment, hip open plan offices, and flex time. None of that shit matters. Most Millennials are looking for meaning, and that’s what we as a profession must try and find.