I remember a time in my life when I did not want to take advice.
I was young and sure I knew everything, and the term “advice” implied the opposite. So when I was offered up wise words, I remember politely nodding along, knowing I was going to do it my way no matter what.
These days, I CRAVE advice. I have binged my way through memoirs, self-help books, inspirational podcasts and the like, always looking for some advice that might make something a little bit easier, or change my perspective in a positive way.
I am fully aware now that I don’t know everything. Does this stop me from occasionally being stubborn and running in the wrong direction to prove a point? No. But do I bounce back faster now that I’ve realized how much help exists in the world that can encourage me to redirect and try again? Absolutely.
This year, I was blessed with a ton of good advice, and I felt like I learned a lot.
Here are some of my favorite tidbits:
1) Live Wide
One night, while I was watching American Ninja Warrior, a contestant came on wearing a shirt that said these two words in big bold letters. It was the motto of his father, Gregory, who died of lung cancer in 2020. While going through treatment and fighting the disease, Gregory decided that since he couldn’t control how long his life was going to be, he wanted to live as wide a life as possible. This meant embracing everything you can do while you have the time. I like to imagine it as spreading your arms as wide as possible, like wings, and touching, seeing, and enjoying as much of the world, of your life, as you can.
2) Keep a book in your purse
I loved this advice because I have often found myself sitting in waiting rooms or standing in a long line, or just with some extra time on my hands, not knowing what to do. The easy solution is always to pull out my phone and scroll through social media, but I have been actively trying not to use that as a crutch. And while carrying a physical book isn’t always an option for me, this advice reminded me that I can open the Kindle app on my phone and read rather than scroll.
3) Don’t let someone else dictate your pace
This is actually advice I received a while ago, back when I was training to climb Mt. Whitney, but I brought it up in conversation recently, and the weight of it hit me all over again. In 2014, while on a training hike, I was ahead of our group’s leader, Tom. He is a far more experienced hiker than me and I got self-conscious that I was moving too slow.
“You can go ahead of me,” I said, “I don’t want to hold you back.”
He shook his head.
“Don’t worry about me,” he said, “and don’t let someone else dictate your pace. You do what you need to do at your pace. Anyone who wants to go around you can and will, but the people who stay behind you might be content following your pace. They might even be inspired by it and try to better their own.”
This applies to hiking, of course, but I can relate it to many aspects of my life.
4) If something is yours it will always be yours
I am a big spiraler. I can convince myself that a mistake I made 20 years ago changed the entire course of my life for the worse, even if that “mistake” is an awkward thing I said to someone I never spoke to again. I constantly wonder if I can be doing more, if I should be doing better, and what opportunities I am missing out on when I fall short, say “no”, or fail. But this advice gave me peace. It reminded me not to live in the “what if’s” of the past, but rather the “what if’s” of the future. We are always walking towards something, and if it is meant to be ours, it will be. We won’t miss it because we blinked or because we changed direction or made a mistake. What is meant to be ours, will always be ours, and everything we’re doing each day—every success, every failure, every try—is leading us right to it.
5) Assume everyone likes you
I grappled with this one initially because it seemed like an easy way to get hurt, or to be naïve to the realities of a situation. But then I realized how often I walk into relationships and interactions assuming that I have to do SO MUCH in order to get the other person to like me. And I want everyone to like me. But when I’m constantly worried that I won’t be liked, I close myself off, and I think I miss out on a lot of meaningful conversations. If I walked into more days believing that I am likeable and that everyone could and should like me, then I might open myself up to more meaningful interactions. I know this doesn’t mean that everyone will like me, but it’s a better starting point than assuming NO ONE likes me, and it allows me to be myself without worrying (as much) that doing so will disappoint, put off, or annoy the other person.
Did you get any good advice this year?
Check out more List-cember posts here.