It doesn’t take much more than a slight change of circumstances in your life—or a major crisis—before voices from far and near begin telling you what they think you should do. Usually in an effort to be helpful, people you know (or random strangers on the street) are all-too-eager to dish out guidance, instructions and recommendations.
Maybe it’s something big like changing jobs or sending your kid to college, or something smaller like redecorating your kitchen. As soon as word gets out that something is changing in your life, the advice starts flowing.
In many instances, the advice includes what others define as "success" and include the things that make them happy. It also includes what they think is possible, achievable and can include their own fears and limitations.
However, too much advice ringing in your ear can become noisy and confusing. Of course, you want to take the good advice and leave the rest behind. But how can you know the difference?
Consider the following to filter through the advice of others—without losing yourself in the process!
Decide Exactly What You Want and Need
Others will have commentaries on what they think you need, but you are the only one who really knows for certain. Even though advice may be well-intentioned, it can also be biased. Many times, advice is based on what would make the giver happy, rather than what would make you happy.
Practice some inner soul searching to find out what you’re looking for in your own life. If you determine your own needs before listening to advice, you’ll stay on track.
Lose the Pride
At times, sage advice can pass us by because our egos get in the way. Try dropping any preconceived notions and listen without judgment. Then you can sort through counsel to find out if anything would be useful and effective for you.
Consider the Source
Think about the who is giving you advice. Your yoga instructor who lived as a monk in Thailand will certainly give you very different advice than your neighbor who is a Wall Street stock broker. Both may have good ideas, but they are polar opposites in what they think makes the world go ‘round!
Also, if the person trying to give you advice is stuck in the same problems that you are having, then they are probably not the expert you are looking for.
Ask yourself where your priorities fall in line with the person who is giving you advice. Is this a person in whose footsteps you want to follow? Consider the source as you listen to what the advice-giver says.
Instead of taking advice from just anyone, consider looking to an expert. The source you seek will depend on the need you have. Relationship counselors, spiritual advisors, financial experts, entrepreneurial leaders, and life coaches may all be useful depending on your situation. You may have to reach outside of your current circle to find them, but it will be worth the extra effort.
Honor Your Friends’ Support
Don’t let an advice situation ruin your relationship with friends and family! Always be sure to thank them for their care. Even if you choose not to take their advice, let them know that it isn’t personal and you appreciate their concern. This will go a long way in strengthening your relationships.
Taking advice during good times and bad can be a bit of a sticky wicket. Remember that advice from the people you know is usually based on their opinions and experience. But that doesn’t mean it has to be your experience! Knowing who you are, setting goals, and moving forward in your life will mean that you’ll have a better idea of who and what to listen to when that advice starts rolling in.
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