Not All Advice Will Work For You

I've taken advice from just about everybody who looks remotely successful, or who might be successful, or who should be successful according to societal standards in this my native land, the U.S. of A. If one is stuck or does not know where to go or what to do, taking advice is a fine method of finding one's way again.

Just don't count on the advice being sound because of the source's quality. Advice doesn't always age well. I've lost time, money, and opportunities on "conventional wisdom" I've been passed along by trusted sources for whom the practices worked approximately forty years ago.

So, I've learned to ask advisors when this action they're advocating worked for them. I have been trusting my elders on various pieces of advice in fields that have changed a lot, and the elders have not kept up to date on the fields in which the advice is applied.

Example: Other homeowners convinced the spouse and I that "houses always appreciate (increase in worth) over time." Worse, everywhere we asked and the most reliable places we read (including economics textbooks, I felt so betrayed) said "Buy a house, it's a no-risk investment!" This might've been true fifty years ago, but it's in no way true today. Our house lost a lot of value due to various factors, and we're not making enough on the sale to put a down payment a new one. So much for that guarantee!

Also, it may also be important to take the confident delivery of advice as a warning sign. When I encounter a phrase like "everybody knows this, this is how it always has been, I have always been told," etc., I've learned to ignore that confident tone and examine the advice more closely.

And I haven't even touched on all of the writing advice I should never have taken because it was written for typical literary fiction authors, and those people are about as far away from me and my work as it's possible to get. Trust no one. Check your sources' currency, and keep in mind that they may not really understand your specific predicament, even if they sound like they do! It might save you some time and sanity.

R. E. Stearns