Cat Lam CPA, CMA on following your own path

Cat Lam CPA, CMA on following your own path

The Fall issue of Dividends has been delivered and is now available for download. Dividends Magazine is distributed to CPA Alberta members three times a year and features member profiles, news from CPA Alberta, lifestyle articles, and information about services relevant to CPAs. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up this latest issue, read the story below featuring Cat Lam CPA, CMA on following your own path.

As an IT consultant, Catherine Lam CPA, CMA was travelling so much she only saw her husband 24 times in their first year of marriage. Her time, career direction, and life felt out of control. So she made the brave decision to work for herself as an IT contractor.

Since straying off the beaten track, Cat hasn’t looked back. Through her blog—ITSolopreneurs (—she’s helping others take control of their lives as well.

ON REACHING OUT… [Through self-employment] I’ve had success in the last 12+ years but I’ve had to learn the hard way. Through plenty of trial and error, I’ve gathered so much intel that I want to share with other people, so why wouldn’t I do my part to save people some grief and guide them to the best possible outcomes?

ON BECOMING YOUR OWN BOSS… As an independent contractor, you have more control of your time, career, and productivity. But you are also more accountable. You’re on your own for training, taxes, compliance, and finding your next gig to stay in business.

ON LEAVING A TRADITIONAL CAREER ROUTE… Figure out what you want first. Build on that idea. Keep adding to your vision daily and let it grow. Before you know it, something magical happens. Opportunities appear. It’s the Law of Attraction. But you have to be clear on what you’re asking. The universe has a way of nudging you in the direction you need to go.

ON ROAD BUMPS… Failure sucks and it hurts, but you can’t sail through life without any bumps or bruises. It’s okay to wallow in self-pity for a little while before recognizing the opportunity in your failure. Then you dust yourself off and recognize the lessons you learned. It’s what you do with those lessons; it’s the upward trend that counts.

ON HINDSIGHT… I’d be lying if I said I don’t cringe when I think of my past mistakes. There have been a few life events that have turned out to be cornerstones in my life. To paraphrase Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address: it’s only when you turn around and look back at the dots in your past that you can see the way they all connect. Every dot has shaped who I am and led me to where I am today.

ON INSPIRATION FOR ITSOLOPRENEURS.COM… If I find it funny, I’m going to write about it. If it makes me laugh, I’ll probably publish it*. If I learned something from it, I’ll definitely publish it. The thing about ITSolopreneurs is that it is professional development infused with quirky humour and pop culture.

ON THE BIGGER PICTURE… I created the blog as a place where you can find personal and professional development, cross-pollinated with humour and pop culture. Eventually, I would like to offer career mentorship, and help people define their career plan independent of any company. It would be a place for people to connect and work with mentors—who have trodden the path and found success—to realize their dream careers.

ON THE CPA DESIGNATION… The CPA designation carries a lot of clout and we are seen as experts in business. CPAs have an arsenal of skills so you don’t have to be limited to your job title. CPAs are taught to find solutions, guide an organization, and make it awesome.

ON PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT… Most people focus on technical skills. Generally, we assume that soft skills and people skills are innate. That’s the least of it. The defining factor that helps people excel in their career is not necessarily how technically good they are, but how well they interact and work with people.

ON BRANCHING OUT… Healthy living is a huge priority in my life. Getting certified for fitness opened so many doors that I would never have thought possible. It saved me through dark periods in my life. I think it’s important to have interests in fields completely different from your profession; it’s only when you have multiple, completely different disciplines fusing together that you can create something completely new.

ON PRIORITIES… Having a clear understanding of your values is so important to structuring your life. Don’t try to multi-task your values. When you’re at work, focus on your work. When you’re with family, it should be all about family. When it’s time to exercise, then devote that time to exercising. Be in the moment.

ON SUCCESS… The secret to success is to find someone who has done what you want to do and emulate them. It matters not one bit that you don’t know how to do something. Anything and everything can be learned. You just have to acquire the skill from someone who’s done it before.

As a certified fitness trainer, Cat also shares some fitness tips in this issue of Dividends. Be sure to check out her tips in the “In Balance” section on page 6!

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