Whether it is welcome or unwelcome, each of us will receive lots of advice over the course of our life. Learning what advice to take and how to integrate it into our lives is important, however it doesn’t happen on its own. It requires mindfulness and reflection.
When I was a resident assistant, there was an ingrained culture of feedback (company jargon for advice) among my superiors and co-workers. From day one, we were told to listen to feedback respectfully otherwise no one would try to help us again. Conversely, we were warned not to take all advice that was given. I believe there is some valuable truth to that warning.
Some of the advice we receive is helpful, but most of it is not due to the fact that advice tends to be self-serving. Even if someone has the best intentions, you must keep in mind that they can only give advice reflective of their own personal experiences because they have become entrenched in them – which makes it hard to see other perspectives or possibilities. And while some volunteer their wisdom too often, others seek and use it destructively. By looking for advice and validation, we are sometimes left with a collection of differing perspectives and ideas that confuse us. I’m not suggesting that you completely ignore the advice of your closest family and friends, nor am I suggesting that you become stubbornly confident in your intuition and ignore the wisdom of others, but there is a sweet spot that you can settle in.
As ironic as it may sound, here is my advice: do as scientists do. Learn whatever you can about the problem you’re trying to solve – whether you’re deciding what classes to take, where to travel on vacation, or if your significant other is the one. Learn to trust your own judgement, reflect instead of over-analyzing (there is a difference), and listen to your gut. Think about what the right answer is for you in the context of what you’ve learned, and then just do it. From there learn from your mistakes and try, try again.
About the author: Mariah Thompson is a 20-something year old writer living and loving in Atlanta, GA. Follow her on Twitter.