“Don’t call him right after the date!”, “You should book your hotel at least two weeks in advance!”, “Avoid carbs if you wanna lose weight!”
People seem to feel an irresistible need to share their knowledge and pass on their wisdom – what they deem wisdom that is. At the same time we all have those moments when we feel a deep uncertainty about a life situation and would really appreciate a little help from others on how to make the right decisions. While there have always been friends and family to throw in their two cents the rise of the internet hasn’t exactly made things easier. By just typing the most simple of questions into Google we can get the bundled experience of thousands of users in the blink of an eye. And the amount of advice we get on just about everything each day often leaves us more confused than we were before. So – is there a way to figure out whose advice to take? Here are 4 tips to help you find your path through the dense jungle of opinions, counsel and guidelines and make the best decisions for your life:
1. Ask yourself: Do they actually want to help you?
Although one should think that people giving us advice are obviously trying to make life easier for us this is unfortunately not always the case. So the first question you should always ask when wondering wether or not to take someone’s advice is: Does this person have any motives other than helping you? Some give advice just to boast about their accomplishments and bathe in their own greatness. Some will in one way or another benefit from you taking their advice and therefore have more egoistic reasons for counseling you. And then there are always those few malicious individuals actually giving you poor advice on purpose. You should always take into account that the friend who thinks you should cut off your long luscious hair you get so many compliments about might actually just be jealous. Find the individuals in your life who fully and honestly mean well for you and feel free to ignore those who just act in their own best interest.
2. Ask yourself: Are they qualified to help you?
There will always be people in your life who do indeed mean well for you but who simply lack the experience to give you good advice on a certain topic. You should always ask: how much experience does this person have that is actually relevant to your situation? When I talked to my dad about my plans to work and live in a different country for a while he invoked a myriad of reasons why I should by no means do this. All his arguments about retirement planning and language barriers made it sound as if living in a country other than the one you were born in was downright impossible (which we all know isn’t true). With 60 years of life experience my dad sure is an awesome advisor when it comes to paying my taxes or fixing my tripod but he has never stayed in a different country for more than a few weeks. He has only moved once in his life within the same town and he’s never even been to the country I considered moving to. Despite his life experience and despite the fact that my dad surely wants the very best for me he simply wasn’t the right advisor for this topic. Try to find the people who have actually been in the same situation and who really know what they’re talking about. Those who already are in a position you would like to be in at some point. Those who have made mistakes you can learn from and achieved things that can inspire you.
3. Ask yourself: Which level are they on?
Growing up often felt a little like leveling up to me, each level being a life phase with its own challenges, questions, pleasures and adventures. I often found that the best advice does not necessarily come from those who’ve already leveled up all the way but from people who are just one level ahead of us. Those people have just accomplished what we’re currently struggeling with be it graduating from school or deciding whether the time is right to have a baby. Because they found themselves in the same situation not so long ago they can often relate very well and give you the one crucial hint you need to advance to the next level yourself.
4. Remember that this is YOUR life
No matter how much experience a person has – they have only lived their life. Nobody has ever lived your life and that’s why you should ultimately trust your own instincts. If someone wants you to do something that just feels dead wrong to you – don’t do it. When it comes down to it your life is what you make it, it’s your freedom as well as your responsibility. It requires a lot of courage to turn down the advice of loved ones or not to take any advice at all but sometimes (sometimes!) this is the way to go.
Do you have rules of thumb on whose advice to take? I’d love to hear them!