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How to get the best advice – Part I

I was 14 years old. Our guidance counselor assigned us a research project/interview on a profession we’d like to pursue. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I liked animals, so I interviewed a family friend who was a vet. As our interview came to an end, I asked him my last question with innocent enthusiasm:

“So…what advice do you have for someone who’d like to be a vet?”
His answer: “Don’t.”

I get a lot of advice. Some of it solicited; some of it unsolicited. This was probably the nail in the coffin of my veterinarian career, but in hindsight, I think that choice turned out to be okay. Nothing lost there.

You don’t have to take all the advice you get. My neighbour’s shirt offers some unsolicited advice. Can you read it?

But what happens when you get advice like this for something you really want? Or something you’re hoping to accomplish but that others say you can’t?

In my experience, it’s best to be armed with this simple two-step plan, that when applied correctly, will help you distinguish between good advice and bad advice. For the record, good advice is what you need to hear and bad advice is counterproductive.

Step 1: When receiving advice, ask yourself: do I want what this person has?

If so – great! You’re likely inspired by this person and respect their opinion. Not only that, but you’d like to walk in their footsteps and do what they’ve done. This can be anything from learning Finnish to building a successful career or starting a loving, happy family. The sky’s the limit. For me, I once got awesome insight about visualization and tumbling from Vellu. Do I wanna learn from him? Hellz yeah! So chances are, that’s a good time to keep your ears perked.

If not – then take the advice with a grain of salt. In the case of the vet above, I don’t really think the advice had anything to do with me whatsoever, but rather with his current career satisfaction, the conditions he was working in, etc.

In the case of expats or people living abroad, I find that sometimes we’re given advice (or ‘info’) about our chances of finding a job or learning the language without really knowing how reliable the information is, and whether it’ll apply to us. When a lot of people begin to tell each other these same things without really confirming how true they are, our beliefs tend to be reinforced (motivation goes down, discouragement goes up). The worst part is, it has nothing to do with us and our capabilities but the experiences of a few individuals (who btw are not you!) so be sure to watch out for this confirmation bias.

[Tweet “When receiving advice, ask yourself: do I want what this person has? via @irinapravet”]

Have you ever taken advice from someone you were really inspired by; how’d it work out? Or someone you only felt pressured to take advice from? OR if you prefer, try out the above advice (if you wish!) and report back with how it worked out for you in the comments below 🙂

xo,

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P.S. Part II of this post has been published! Read it here.

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