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From Where We Sit


Anton Ng


A shout-out to all Filipino Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)! May is finally here, which means that the busiest of months have already passed. There were headaches and heartaches along the way, but certainly, seeing the fruits of your labor makes everything worth it. What do we now do with the sudden increase in our free time?

Last Monday was the first time in a long while that I was able to leave the office while the sun was still out. It was a relief. It was refreshing. It felt like I was resurrected.

“You can relax. You can take a break. You can do whatever you want, because you earned this. You deserve this,” was a whisper I heard my indulgent self telling my tired self.

In previous years, one of the first thoughts that would linger in my mind after going through a busy season was that I deserved a break; a break that should not be anything less than 12 hours of sleep each day, read all the books and comics that were gathering dust in my office shelf, and watch everything that Netflix had to offer. Do all of those, while going on a two-week vacation with the family somewhere in between. For NBA fans out there, these next few months for us, auditors, are the equivalent of the NBA’s off-season. Our playoff run is done, and the next season will not start anytime soon.


Speaking of the NBA, the Indiana Pacers recently got bounced off from seven games by the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in their first round playoff series. Victor Oladipo, this year’s leading candidate for the most improved player, was the main reason the Pacers overachieved this season. In less than an hour after the Pacers’ season ended in that Game 7 loss, Oladipo texted his trainer with, “When do we start? I’m ready to take it to the next level.” By all accounts, Oladipo played his best season so far in his young NBA career and led the Pacers to an unexpectedly successful season. Yet, he was not thinking of taking a break after his final game. He was eager to go back to the gym to be even better for the next basketball season.

Putting in a lot of work to accomplish a project, regardless of the level of success that was achieved, should never be used as an excuse to slack off, to be mediocre for the next few months, to take off our foot on the gas pedal. Before we know it, the next busy season or big project is once again upon us. By the time we have to face another busy period or a big project, we did not gain any new skill or competency to better prepare us for what lies ahead.

Inviting and eventually giving in to the mindset of “I deserve this break” is addicting. It is sometimes too comforting that it makes it difficult to regain the momentum we used to have. It is like when you are running for eight kilometers straight and decide to rest: starting to run the final two kilometers becomes more and more difficult as each second passes by. We need to be relentless in our pursuit to be better, to grow, to develop.

I am not espousing that we run ourselves to the ground. I do not personally see anything wrong with taking that well-deserved break. What I want people to be cautious about is having a mindset that just because we exerted so much effort and we put in so much time for the last project that we can be mediocre and be entitled to slack off for the next few months.

At the end of the day, it is a choice. A choice, which means there will be differing results, dependent on the choices that we make. We all have to live with the consequences of our choices. Somebody who decides to be relentless in their pursuit to better themselves by putting in the work even right after a very tiring period is expected to gain more skills and competencies compared to somebody who decided to take a slack off.

To a certain extent, I am reaping the costs of my lack of relentlessness in the past. I have developed a lot of bad habits over the years that it is now more difficult for me to get back on track and desire for continuous development and growth after each busy season. I need to start somewhere though; otherwise, this will never get started.

Let us start evaluating our past work. What did we do great, and what went wrong? What skills and competencies do we need to obtain or develop to help us do better for our next project or engagement? How can we obtain them? These are just some of the questions that we can ask ourselves to keep our momentum going. Let us make sure that this new found “free time” would be used to something productive and meaningful.

To my fellow CPAs, congratulations on slaying this past busy season. Now is the time to prepare for the next one.

Anton Ng is a partner, Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and over 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our Website:


As published in The Manila Times, dated 02 May 2018