I’ve always hated making decisions. It’s scary. Every decision has consequences that you’ll have to deal with, maybe, for the rest of your life. Whenever I felt like I didn’t know what to do, I would seek the advice of those around me. Asking the same question to as many people as I can, hoping to find an advice that resonates with what I know I wanted to do. I wasn’t brave enough to go on with my plans, and I wanted others to tell me “Go On.” Of course, that never happened.
One experience totally changed my perspective about advice and because of it, I no longer believe in giving or seeking advice. If someone asks for my advice, I would still say what I think, but it’s just not something that I like to do anymore.
Two years ago, I wanted to quit my job. It was not an easy decision, and I spent more than six months, thinking. Out of habit, I asked everyone I know what to do. I know I didn’t wish to continue, but I wasn’t sure that this was the right thing to do. I was utterly miserable. I was exhausted from the long working hours and the commute. I spent hours, explaining to family and friends how tired I felt. I was furious. Why can’t they understand what I’m going through?
They kept repeating the same “sensible,” and most logical advice, don’t leave your job without finding another one? I don’t blame them. After all, they are concerned I might not find another opportunity. Their advice was find something else, first. It was just that I was too exhausted to do that with my long working hours, and I would be deceiving myself if I thought I could look for another job with the little time that I had. I didn’t even have time to prepare something to eat. So, how would I prepare my CV, apply, and follow up?
The advice I wanted to hear so badly was: “if you’re that miserable, why don’t you leave?” No one has ever said that. It’s okay. I would never give that advice to anyone, either. I was just angry that no one felt what I was going through. Over time, I realized one thing. No one is ever going to feel your pain. It was my experience, my feelings. Eventually, I quit my job. It was not the “correct” decision according to others, but it was a great decision for me. I learnt after that particular experience that seeking and giving advice is no good, and here is the logic behind reaching that conclusion.
Let’s see, for a person to give you what we would call “sound” advice, they would need information not just about the situation but about you with your priorities, fears, dreams, perspective, etc. How could any person know what is more important to you in this life? Okay, that makes family members and best friends the best go-to for advice. I would still say no because knowing you doesn’t mean they know what is best for you. Have they ever been in your shoes? Can they feel your exhaustion? Do your nightmares keep them up at night? They know you, but what can they really understand everything that is going on in your mind. A friend might tell you it’s a great opportunity. Go for it. It might simply be what they want for themselves. It does not have to be what is good for you. No one can give good advice. Advice can be general. Advice can be subjective. Advice can be tricky. This is what I feel about advice because all the advice I got was never in line with what I wanted to do, never in line with my heart’s desires.
Also, you know this famous picture of two persons standing opposite to each other arguing whether the number written is a 6 or a 9. This is how I feel about making decisions. It is subjective. Some people make decisions out of fear and others out of hope. I know because I used to make decisions out of fear. I stayed too long at a job that added nothing to my experience simply because I was afraid of not finding a great opportunity. So, if you are making your decisions out of fear, you always think of what you’re going to lose and not what you’re going to gain.
I’m a different person now. I make my decisions out of hope. I quit with a belief that I’m going to find something better. And I did. I said to myself. This is not what I want for myself. I want better and I will find better. I’m not arguing here which way of deciding what to do with your life is better. All I’m saying is trying to bring together the two approaches is like trying to unite two life-long enemies. If you’re an out of hope person seeking advice from an out of fear person, you’re not going to like what they advise you with. You will think they are just giving you bad advice. And they’ll think you’re crazy. The two mind sets will never ever meet.
Your choices are also affected by your experience. Sometimes, no matter what someone tells you, you’d never believe it without trying for yourself. I wouldn’t call it stupidity. I would call it perspective. If I knew 10 years ago what I know now, my decisions would have tremendously differed. But I just didn’t know better. Sometimes, you have to experience it to know. Priorities change, and how you see things also changes. So, if you’re racking your brains and trying to give advice to someone younger, who doesn’t seem to listen, just understand that their mind is not there yet. They don’t have your priorities. They don’t have your understanding. If someone told me years ago that I wouldn’t cherish now what I wholeheartedly loved in the past, I would have called them stupid. So, where you are in life has a great impact on what you do. That includes, of course, the advice you accept and follow.
There is something else to think about when seeking advice and that is the assumption that whoever is giving you advice has your best interests at heart. Is it always the case, though? I’m thinking of naysayers, here. They are a group of people most likely to say no to anything new you’re about to try. Some naysayers are just negative. They are crippled by the fear of change. And believe it or not, there are others who don’t want you to do better because by doing better, you’ll awaken their insecurities. You will make them question all their life choices. I’ve met them as well. I was confused at first by their attitude. Not anymore.
I’ve sought advice all my life. And I can tell you this. I’ve received some really bad advice from the most well-meaning people. When you seek advice, think about this, no one knows the best for you better than you. No one knows where you’re are and where you want to be better than you. No one has your best interests at heart better than you. Don’t let the difference in priorities, dreams, or mentality guide you when you are trying to decide what to do. My dissatisfaction with all the advice I got has led me to reject the whole idea. Ironically, my advice for you is: if you want help, ask for information and not advice.