CPA Exam Motivation: Two Extremely Effective Strategies

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CPA exam motivation can be hard to find, especially once you’re several weeks or months into the CPA study process. But… the best study techniques and the best CPA study materials are worthless if you can’t get yourself to sit down and study each day.

In this video, I want to talk through CPA exam motivation, and we’re going to start with understanding motivation, specifically for the CPA exams. Then we’ll cover a few issues with time constraints or considerations that you need to take into account. And then we will cover my two favorite techniques for unlimited CPA exam motivation.

Now, the one thing that I always tell my clients and customers is that, the best study techniques and the best CPA study materials are obviously worthless. If you can’t get yourself to sit down and study each day.

However, it’s very important to understand the other side of that coin, which is, if your study process isn’t working and you don’t have a sense of making progress with all the time that you’re spending, sitting down to study each day, then it’s going to be almost impossible to motivate yourself over the course of several months on a day-to-day basis.

So there’s really two parts to that. You need to be able to motivate yourself to study each day, but that becomes much easier if you know that your study process is working and that you’re making progress.

Worst case scenario

So before we can even cover motivation and the specific techniques about motivation, the last thing you want to do is spend hundreds of hours, meaning weeks, months, maybe even years of your life, dedicated to this study process, if you don’t know what you’re doing is effective and that it’s actually working and that it’s going to lead to passing scores.

Free CPA study training

So specific study strategies, isn’t the point of this video, but again, that is where our free study training webinars come in. We take one hour, we walk you through the key ideas behind our study philosophy, our study techniques and our strategies that have led to all the success stories you see on our website, on our podcast.

So there should be a link down in the description where you can sign up for one of those, or just go to our site at superfastcpa.com, it’s the main thing at the top of the homepage.

Our brain works like a battery

The second thing to understand about motivation, again, specifically in the context of studying for the CPA exams is that our ability, whatever you want to call this, to be productive, to be proactive, to sit down and really use your brain on a difficult task and work through something where it takes a lot of brain power, our brain is basically like a battery and it starts fresh at a hundred percent each day, and it just goes down throughout the day.

Best time to study, which requires less motivation

So I am a huge advocate of studying in the morning because like I just explained, our brain is like a battery. It starts at the top. It’s at its most full in the morning, and it just goes down. Again, whether you want to call this self-control or discipline or just, you know, brain power, all of those things just go down as the day goes by.

So if you save a big four or five hour study session for after you’ve worked 8, 10, 12 hours and you’re tired and your brain is fried, it is extremely hard to not only get yourself to sit down and study for those four hours, but it’s incredibly difficult, and I would almost say impossible, to stay focused and on task and productive through that four hour study session. If you’ve saved it for the very end of the day.

Don’t make motivation harder than it needs to be

Now again, if you are trying to study four to five hours a day, and you’re trying to do that all at one time, it is incredibly difficult, just from a feasibility perspective or a practicality perspective. It’s very difficult to find an uninterrupted four to five hours every single day, especially if you are working full-time, and especially if you have people in your life that want to see you, basically, if you have any semblance of a normal life, it’s very, very hard, if you’re working full-time to find four to five uninterrupted hours to study every day.

And again, it’s very difficult to stay on task, to stay focused and to stay productive for an entire four to five hours. All at one time.

How to reduce the “dread factor”

So in other words, if you’re trying to study four to five hours all at one time, every single day, there is a pretty significant dread factor that you have to overcome on a day to day basis. Even besides just finding the four to five hours a day.

So, if you can reduce the dread factor that you have to overcome to get yourself to sit down and study each day, then motivation is much easier. So the easiest way to reduce the dread factor of, again, trying to find four to five hours of uninterrupted study time every day, and then trying to motivate yourself to stay productive for an entire four or five hours. The easiest way to make that whole thing easier is to make your main study session shorter.

How long should your study sessions be?

Now, if you’ve never seen any of our videos or attended one of those free study training webinars or listen to any of our podcasts interviews, the main thing that we advocate or tell our clients or customers to do is to have a main daily study session that is just two hours long. Now that’s on weekdays.

On weekends, you aim for longer like four to six hours, but the core SuperfastCPA main study session that you do with your main review course should only be two hours long on weekdays.

Now, when your main study session only needs to be two hours long, there are all kinds of advantages. It is twice as easy to find two hours of uninterrupted study time each day, again, we recommend that you do it in the morning because your brain is fresh, you lock it in before you even leave the house, or before you start work, if you’re working from home, you lock in the most important task of your day, which is your main study session, and then you get to just feel good about it all day.

Instead of having this huge task in the back of your mind, that you’re dreading and kind of thinking about, it’s taking up some of your brain power, just sitting there weighing on your mind.

It is so much easier to just knock it out in the morning,

Extra study time from something you already do every day

The second part of our program is that you keep studying as you go through your normal day in small chunks. So we refer to these as mini sessions. All it means is, when you’re in your car, instead of listening to music, you listen to audio notes. Whenever you would normally pull out your phone and look at social media all the little times that you pull your phone out and look at it for two to five minutes, you’re just trying to replace all that time that you would just normally look at little time-wasters for a few minutes at a time, and either read review notes on the app or take quizzes on the app. So as you go through your day and you make that a habit, it is easy to add in another two or three hours as you go throughout your normal day.

So clearly a two hour main session in the morning, and then the rest of your studying just happens as you go about your normal day, doing things you’re already doing, you already have your smartphone and you already look at it a hundred times a day… And you know this because you get your screen time report every week and it tells you that somehow, even if you’re very busy, you still found two to three hours a day to stare at your phone.

So that’s what we’re talking about is taking advantage of that fact. It’s something you’re already doing, and you can use that exact same time to be knocking out study material.

Get more done in 2hrs than someone studying 4hrs the “normal way”?

Now our big claim is that when you study the way that you will learn how to study on those free study training webinars, you can get more done in these two hour main sessions than somebody studying four to five hours, the normal way.

And there’s several very logical reasons why that’s the case. And that will all make sense once you watch one of those training webinars.

So a quick recap, before we get into the actual motivation techniques, you can make your CPA study process much easier by taking advantage of the fact that it’s easier for you to be focused and productive by studying or doing your main study session in the morning. And you can make your daily study routine much easier to fit in and stay consistent with, from a practical basis, if, instead of trying to find four to five hours of uninterrupted study time each day, you instead only aim for a two hour main study session with your main review course.

And then you implement the idea of mini sessions, which again is simply studying from your phone, as you go about your normal day, when you would normally look at your phone with things like social media, you just switch that time for using study supplements from your phone.


Strategy #1: “5 Good, and 5 Bad…”

All right, so now let’s get into the actual motivation techniques. Now you could do either one or the other of these techniques, but they work the best if you put them together. So the first one is, I guess we could call five good and five bad, and this is pretty simple. You would take a piece of paper. We actually have a free form that we give to our clients for this.

I will put a link to that in the description that you can grab. But basically, you know, you would write out the top five reasons… You hear about the idea of finding your why… You want to write out in paragraph form, and you can do more than five, I mean, I would suggest that you just sit there for five to 10 minutes and just write through everything that comes to your mind. But the idea is that you write out the top five things that are good, or the reasons why you want to pass your CPA exams, that’s going to keep you motivated when you look at this later. So you’re going to get that promotion. You’re going to earn more money throughout your entire career. You’re doing this to prove something to yourself.

On and on and on. Whatever those reasons are, you put down on paper, what really motivates you? The thoughts that motivate you, and in terms of good things that will happen when you pass your exams.

Now you can probably guess, if this is called five good and five bad… Then you get very specific about the five worst things that will or won’t happen if you don’t finish and pass your exams. And again, write this out in paragraph format, negative things that motivate you. Now, ideally this should all fit on one paper. So if you type this out or used our form, that’s in the description, you would actually print this out.

Or if you wrote it on paper, then you obviously have the physical version. You want to take this and literally put it on your wall in front of where you’re going to study each day or put it somewhere. Some of my clients have told me they put it on their mirror that, you know, the thing, they stand in front of every morning to brush their teeth and they see these five good things and these five bad things.

The bottom line is somewhere where you’re going to see these five good things and these five bad things every single day.

And you also want to make it a point to actually look at this consciously every day and read through it, read through the five good things and the five bad things.

So, this is an extremely effective way on a daily basis to tap back in to the same mindset that you had, you know, your first week or so of studying and just instantly put yourself back in that frame of mind that, okay, there are these significant reasons why I’m doing this. Why I need to sit down and do this every day, make this happen on a daily basis.

Strategy #2: The “4-Piece” reward system

So moving onto the second thing, which builds in a rewards aspect to this process, this is very, very motivating. Especially if you pick something that you really want. So this idea is simple. There are four CPA exams, so you pick something that’s going to be your big reward for yourself, you know, and obviously a lot of people do this where they’re going to go on a trip or they’re going to buy themselves something that they really wanted once they finish.

But the difference maker that will really make this incredibly motivating is you pick four ways of dividing that up. Whether, so if it’s a trip, you might, uh, if you’re going somewhere where it’s going to be hot, you buy yourself a new swimming suit or beach attire, or, you know, whatever. And that’s one part. And when you pass the first exam, you would physically go out and buy the first piece and then you would keep it in your office or wherever you study, you keep the tags on it.

You do not use it. You put it on a hanger or you have it sitting there, in front of you where you have to look at it every day, when you go into study. Now, what I did with this is I wanted new golf clubs. And so I believe the first thing that I bought was a golf bag. So brand new golf bag, an actual nice one, not the crappy one that comes with their, you know, the first set that you buy, a really nice golf bag.

I had the tags on it. I had it sitting there in my office where I studied and it just drove me crazy to like see that every day. And then when I passed the second exam, I bought the irons and the thing that really killed me was I would not let myself use them. So I put the irons, so the actual, the golf clubs, except for the driver, put those in the bag, kept the plastic on the heads of the clubs and they just sat there. And I had to just look at them every day, look at them every day and just think, okay. The only thing, the only thing I can do to like unwrap those golf clubs and be able to use them, is to knock out this study session and just get that much closer.

And it just made me very motivated to crush my daily study sessions and then do mini sessions, study for my phone all throughout the day and just rack up study time, just constantly increasing the odds that I was going to get a passing score. So that is the basic idea. Whatever your big reward to yourself is going to be, find four ways or four items that you can physically purchase and keep in the room where you study and you put them on display, essentially. In front of yourself that you have to look at them every day.

You do not let yourself actually use them. If it’s clothes, you do not let yourself wear them. You keep the tags on them, and you have to look at these actual representations of your big goal. You know, it will constantly remind you why you want to pass these. It’s just a constant reminder and it’s incredibly motivating to have these things that you want to use, but you know, you can’t really use them until you pass the fourth exam.

So I hope you found that helpful, if you did, please consider subscribing to the channel. I would mainly recommend that you sign up for one of our free study trainings, because that is where you’ll learn how to study very effectively and efficiently with your main review course, there should be a link in the description for that.

And if you know people who are also studying for their exams or know people that are struggling with motivation, then send them this video. So thanks for watching and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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