I’ve Stopped Giving Advice
You know when somebody tells you something about a person, and all of a sudden, you can’t stop seeing it?
Before they told you anything, you never noticed it. But now, it’s all you notice.
Well, I’m going to do that to you today. I’m going to tell you something that you can’t unread. You’re going to bring it with you from here on out, and realize just how often this happens, that you never realized.
There are three things about me that have made me a target for people to give me unwarranted, unasked for advice:
I’m a freelance content writer.
I eat consciously and I work out.
For context, let me break this down a bit:
I’m a freelance content writer: I work full-time as a freelance content writer. I write for a digital marketing education platform and B2B SaaS companies. I don’t have any employees and I do all of the work myself (writing, editing, accounting, outreach, etc.)
I eat consciously and work out: I know exactly how many grams of carbs, protein, and fat that I intake on a day-to-day basis. I strictly follow a workout program for weight training.
I’m twenty-seven: This will make more sense later.
As a freelance content writer, who is mindful of her wellness, and in her late twenties, I have hit the trifecta. For some reason, I find that no matter who I am talking to somebody has some advice they want me to take.
And, I’m not against getting advice. I’ve read ten books in 2019—I’m a pretty keen learner.
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Freelance Writing
Looking back at my first few months as a freelance writer is pure cringe.
Where the problem lies is in who is giving me this advice. Day after day, conversation after conversation, I find that people feel this emotional tie to giving somebody advice…
Even when they don’t know what they are talking about.
Here’s the thing:
Just because I have experienced something micro-correlated to what you have experienced, doesn’t mean that I should give you advice on it. For example, I went to college, but should I be giving a random person advice on whether they should go to college or not—just because I also attended?
No. Because that person has different goals than I do, and maybe their goals correlate with going to university for four years.
Well, that’s what keeps happening to me. I’m inundated with advice from people regarding:
Why I haven’t turned my business into an agency.
Why I shouldn’t and working out the way I do.
Why I should feel great about where I am in life for being 27 years old.
Now, this advice would be great if it came from:
Somebody with a million dollar agency who was fulfilled with their life and knew my personal goals enough to understand that an agency model would also make me fulfilled.
Somebody who eats healthier than me and works out in a better way than me that can see what I’m doing isn’t right and would be more effective if I tried something else.
Somebody who is older than me that is head over heels about their life.
But, it doesn’t. It comes from people who are:
Plateau in their business or career.
Doesn’t eat mindfully or work out regularly.
Does not love the life they are living.
I don’t need fancy science to tell me, that I shouldn’t listen to the advice that these people are giving me.
And this generally terrible advice has led me to realize, that I do the same thing.
I consistently give people advice based off of my own experiences—without knowing if that advice works like a template into their current experience.
The thing is, their parents could also have gotten a divorce, they could also have traveled the world as a digital nomad, and they could also be a business owner.
But that doesn’t mean that what I have to say is good advice, for their particular situation. In fact, it may be just as bad advice as the advice I’ve received from people who don’t have any experience doing what I’m doing.
Humans want to help humans. We have a desire to give advice so that we can solve each other’s problems. The thing is, this advice can do more harm than good if somebody takes it and then your situation and their situation don’t overlap (think of the earlier college example).
That’s why I no longer give advice. What I do instead is ask questions.
Instead of saying, “Here’s what I did during that experience”, I’ll ask the person questions that helps them come to the conclusion that is best for them.
This not only leads to them having the solution they actually needed, but it’s a much deeper conversation. It’s not my job to tell you what I want you to do, it’s my job to help guide you to what you need to do.
And only you know that.