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Ignoring Bad Advice (From People With Good Intentions)

Ignore bad advice from people with good intentions

The people who love you want you to be happy. But here’s the thing: people only know what their own version of happiness looks like – at work and in life. Here’s an example…

I do not want to have children. I’ve encountered some pushback on this. I have felt pressure from friends, family, and at times the whole universe, it seemed, to have babies. The people who pressured me most were women with their own children – children who they love infinitely. Their version of happiness involves children. My own mother had a hard time with my decision. Her life’s work was raising five children. There’s nothing she would have rather done. She’s supportive about my decision now, but it took a while to get there. I felt like I was letting her and everybody else down by being myself and doing my own thing. But you have to live your own life, whether it’s kids, career, or any other decision.

Every human being on earth crafts a unique set of biases based on his or her own experience – you, me, and everybody else. We use this experience to dish out advice. But what works for one person (even someone who loves you and wants only the best for you) might not work for you. Good intentions, bad advice. The advice might not be bad on it’s own, but if it’s not right for you it’s not advice you should take, and only you can decide what feels like good advice and what feels like bad advice.

Perhaps your best friend is a jump first, ask later, adventure seeker who thinks you should stop thinking and start doing, already. This perspective is no good to you if you’re prudent and need to do research before taking a career risk.

Perhaps your father grew up in an environment of fear and scarcity, and wants you to get the most stable, best paying job possible when you’re done school. This perspective is no good to you if you want to take a less lucrative, but ultimately more fulfilling job.

I have a friend who was pressured to go to law school by her father. She dealt with massive, debilitating anxiety all the way through law school. She finished, but (big surprise) hates working as a lawyer. Her father only wanted her to be safe and happy, and in his mind a career in law was the way to get there. His intentions were good, but the advice was bad.

You have the right – hell, you have the responsibility – to respectfully disregard bad advice, even if the person dishing it out has the best of intentions. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Whose advice do you need to ignore?


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