Ever find yourself having a difficult time staying focused while studying for the CPA Exam? In the following article, Joe Hoyle, from CPA Review for Free, gives some good insight on how to stay focused and maintain the momentum while preparing for the CPA Exam.

One of the problems that I hear from candidates over and over is that their preparation starts strong for a few days but they cannot maintain the momentum after a week or so. If you want to get rich, invent a pill that people can take that will give them the discipline to do hard work over and over, day after day, for an extended period of time. With many people, having that self-discipline is the difference between success and failure.

For many years, I have wanted to exercise and get in shape. I have not been successful. I eat well but I have never been able to exercise for more than a few days before I lose interest and fall back into my lazy, bad habits. I am a person of good intentions.

In recent years, I have been searching for some kind of secret that would help me to keep exercising after the initial week. I would have three good days and then invariably quit for three months.

Recently, I found something that has really worked for me in my quest to get stronger. Maybe the same kind of logic will help you in preparing for the CPA Exam. I went to my local gym which has dozens of difference types of exercise equipment and found one machine that I could tolerate (it is a recumbent cross trainer, in case you are interested). I like it because it works on my legs and arms both.

But here is the secret key. This particular machine counts the number of steps I take while exercising. The first day I took 600 steps and the second day 800. Now, normally, I would lose interest and that would be the end of that. But after the first day, I came home and opened up a computer file that I called “Steps” and entered in the number of steps I made that day and my total since I started. I did the same thing after the second day.

As soon as I started keeping that total and watching it climb, I had a goal. As soon as I had that goal, I had a reason to go exercise. Immediately, I became better at what I was trying to do. Since that first day, I have gone to the gym 26 out of 32 days and have now made a total of 35,150 steps. I started with one step but now I have hit 35,150. At this rate, I can hit 1,000,000 in less than three years. My legs are stronger. My arms are stronger. I feel better and healthier.

What changed? Only one thing changed. I started to keep count and record the number of steps and got interested in seeing how high I could get that total.

If you are having trouble studying for the CPA Exam because you start strong and then fade away, let me give you a suggestion. Set up a computer file titled “Minutes.” During each day, keep up with the number of minutes that you study: 30 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and 40 minutes at some other point during the day. Then, right before you go to bed, add in the count of minutes for the day and determine a new overall total. Watching that total rise day after day will give you a sense of accomplishment. You will be more likely to study (which, of course, is the secret to passing).

Even if you can only find 15 minutes to study one day, that overall total will climb a bit. This strategy will not work for everyone but I am a living example that keeping count does help some people. Yes, you have to start at one minute but before you know it, you’ll be up there at 4,000 minutes and, at that point, you should be getting pretty close to passing that next part of the CPA Exam.