We’ve read the books and articles, heard the podcasts, listened to mentors and loved ones. We’ve been given a lot of advice on how to hack productivity, be better versions of ourselves, and achieve our goals. You’ll find them in this (and many other) blogs, and in books that line store shelves and fill digital libraries. Some of this advice stirs our imaginations and fundamentally changes the way we see ourselves and the world. These lessons can be invaluable.
But, on some level, relying on others means not taking responsibility ourselves. And avoiding responsibility means admitting to yourself that you're powerless to create change. You're not. There’s a time and a place to use others’ wisdom in our own lives — when you can really make the most of it. More often than not, however, change has to start from within.
Read more: Hack Your Thinking To a Better You
The Role of Advice in Our Lives
Advice plays a few roles:
- Gives us perspective. We're neither the first nor the last to go through something. Others have been there and made it through. It can help you remove yourself from your own "why me?" bubble, know that there's a right way out, and get to it.
- Gives us a confidence boost. We are often our own worst enemies. If the advice comes from a personal source — a mentor or friend who understands our struggles — others' confidence in us can help us restore our own.
- Provides relevant, actionable tweaks to our environments that make it easier for us to enable change. They help us set the stage and make it easier for us to perform.
But they don’t do. No one, if not for you, can actually do. When we’re done listening to others, what happens? Do you put that advice to use? Or does it collect dust on your bookcase?
You’ll quickly find the ideas you’ve read and heard about take hard work to implement. You’ll be undoing years of ingrained habits. Changing your default behaviors is a steep slope to climb and relying on advice that’s not in your DNA provides a flimsy support rope. There’s often a chasm between idea and effort. And there’s really only one way to cross that chasm and create change: put your head down, brace for impact, do the work, and try to make it stick.
Take a Deep Breath and Get to It
So, if only for now, strengthen that rope on your own. Do the work, prove to yourself — not anyone else — that you can do it, and start biasing your default thinking towards "I can do this." Don’t know something? Look it up. Google it. Youtube it. You’re not the first to try, so see how others have done it. Doesn’t work? Try again, this time using what you’ve learned to modify your strategy. This part of the process is usually steeped in failure, something our psyches have a hard time coming to terms with. We’ll want to quit to save face. Don’t. Accept failure. Accept that you don’t know everything and you can’t be everything now. You’ll end up prioritizing trying and learning — a simpler, more achievable goal — over being. Make effort your metric of success at this stage.
Then dig deep and try to understand what got you started and who you’re trying to become when it’s over. Are you trying to become more biased towards action because you took a back seat when you shouldn’t have? More self-reliant because relying on others failed you? Whatever your situation is: live in that world, feel the pain, let it show who you’re trying to become, then get to work.
There’s a time and a place for using someone else’s thoughts to build a better life for yourself. Remember: every piece of advice is, in some way, biased. Everything comes from someone with their own agenda, hidden or otherwise. It may come with the best of intentions and it may have been great advice for a particular person in a particular situation, but that doesn’t guarantee it’ll work for you. Understand the source. Use the advice, if you choose to, when it can really be of use to you. But, the ground floor, the fundamental core on top of which everything else will be built, has to be all you. Do the work. Fail. Learn. Try again. Show yourself you've got what it takes. And move forward.
Do it once and you’ll know what you’re made of. Then do it again and you’ll never look back.
Don’t quit and, as always, be more than you ever thought possible. For an extra dose of inspiration, see our canvas prints and quoted apparel.
Pasha & the Bemore Team