Before we get to it, let’s address the ironic, beautiful, elephant in the room: I am about to give you advice in a blog about how to not take advice from (every) blog.
Now that we’re past that, I want you to know that you’re not the only one feeling like you’re drowning in an ocean of self-development advice. Until recently, I was there. It’s paralyzing, it’s frustrating, and it’s totally going to be okay.
From Gary Vee (Vaynerchuck), to the who-is-that-wildly-successful-course-creator on my Facebook feed, advice is anything but lacking. Everyone seems to be an expert at something these days, and with the information mediums like podcasts, blogs, and Facebook ads available to anyone willing to put some time into them — is it any surprise that we are overwhelmed with self-development advice?
About two years ago, I was facing a plateau in my business and I couldn’t figure out why. To push myself through, I made the goal of reading twenty-five books that year and at least two articles per day. Plus, I replaced my car music with at least one podcast per drive, followed a myriad of inspiring and successful individuals. I also did a cleansing of any negative-Nancys from my friends’ list.
For a few weeks, I was on an information high. I felt empowered, informed, and even made some gutsy moves because of it. This approach seemed to work — until I was faced with conflicting information, repeatedly. Advertising giant, Jason Zimmerman, was saying to do one thing — while Gary Vee was recommending the complete opposite. Podcast interviews seemed to melt into one another, and I felt like I was at a crossroads with a hundred different arrows pointing in every direction possible.
Rather than see advice for what it is — a recommendation — I became doubtful of myself and my abilities. If this marketing guru approaches his life and business in this one way, who am I to approach it my way? Am I working too hard? Not hard enough? Am I being impatient or do I need to be more aggressive? And what does trusting the process really mean?!
The more I sought out advice, the more confused I became. At one point, I felt like I couldn’t make a simple decision without getting an opinion on it first. I love see-saws, but these ups and downs were nauseating. It wasn’t long until the imaginary wires in my brain started to short and I began to shut down. I became a self-development junkie.
And I wasn’t alone. From my entrepreneur colleagues to my mommy friends, many started admitting their anxiety and even depression due to the overwhelm of information that they were processing. Their stories empowered me to find a solution. And so that’s exactly what I did. Here are the four major takeaways that saved me from this flood of information.
1. Treat advice like an outfit. Try it on. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.
Who you are today is a compilation of your past experiences. Who Gary Vee is today is based on his past experiences, too. I don’t know you personally, but I can guarantee that your experiences were not identical to Gary Vee’s. So why would every piece of advice he gives fit you?
We look up to our ‘advice idols,’ so when they suggest something that doesn’t fit our lives or our businesses, we try to fit into it like jeans from 20 pounds ago. Rather than recognize that this is not the solution for us, we start to wonder what is wrong with us. We start to doubt ourselves and our ability to figure it out without outside input.
When we try on a theory — which is all that advice is — and are confident enough to admit when it’s a size too small, we are able to move through different ‘outfits’ quicker and find the ones that work for us.
Remember, you can always tailor advice to your own life.
2. Act first. Get advice later.
My biggest error wasn’t seeking out opinions — it was failing to act on them. I became so afraid of making a mistake and proving to myself that I really am the disappointment that I think I am, I wanted to be 100% sure that I was making the right decision. Problem is, that’s just a big waste of time.
Once I started to act first, ask later, I started to move forward — fast. Not every decision plays out according to plan, but the lessons are better than the stagnancy of waiting for all the lights to turn green.
3. Trust yourself.
If you are saying, “I’m trying!” — girl, I’ve been there. Stop trying. I mean it. The only way to trust yourself is to do what that little voice inside you tells you to do. Like yoga, it becomes better with practice and there’s no better time to start than now. The more you go against it or silence it, however, the more you will find yourself frustrated and feeling the need to get advice from elsewhere.
4. Avoid the highlight reel.
Some of the strongest minds I know have been afflicted by the many “perfect” lives as seen on Instagram. In fact, it is one of the most powerful sources of information that affects our psyche because of how often we look at social media — and the fact that it’s our peers that are living these awesome lives, and handing out advice like candy on Halloween. Remember that everyone on there has to go #2 just like you. And if you just can’t deal, there’s a very useful “Unfollow” button located on their profile. Don’t be afraid to use it!