I was visiting my friend Sara last week and was having a good laugh at her current marital tiff. Nothing comforts me more than knowing I’m not alone in those. As I listened to her explain it, I couldn’t help but think of all the times I’ve done what she did.
She asked her husband’s advice and then didn’t take it. I’ve witnessed this before; she’ll ask which shoes he likes and then pick the opposite. But this time she asked his advice about taking on a leadership position at work and then did what she wanted to do anyway which was turn it down. He was insulted which is why she invited me over (“he can’t be mad directly at me if you’re here”…the perfect invite )
I’ve been there before, I told her. And it’s true, I often do this. The reason I give myself that it’s ok is something my dad says, “in the asking you often find your answer.” (Tweet this!)
Great for me. Annoying to whomever’s advice I’m after. Do you do the same, ask advice and then ignore it?
Sure it’s annoying when someone selects a pair of shoes, a restaurant or movie and you choose another. The difficulty is when the decision is more weighty.
How do you know when to heed advice and when to follow your gut?
I’ve thought on this quite a bit and I’m not sure there’s a definite “way to always do it.” However, I have a method that works for me. As you may have heard me say, success (and happiness) is an inside job so when it comes to taking a job, making a career decision or any decision really, you have to go inward first.
Here’s what I suggest:
Think about why you’re asking for advice.
Do you want to talk it out, to see another side, to be convinced or agreed with? What is your motive? Often we know what we want to hear and then we wait for someone to validate us. Be clear on what you’re hoping to get out of the conversation.
Don’t waste anyone’s time.
Sure, an opinion on where to eat is one thing but when you have a bigger decision to make, someone who really cares about you will invest time, energy and thought into the discussion. If you know what you might choose, set the expectation early on that you may already know which route you’re going to take. Simply adding the line that you’re still weighing your options, if nothing else, will alleviate possible guilt on your end.
I urge you to avoid getting stuck in analysis paralysis where you just talk and talk and talk about a subject, collecting opinions ad nauseam avoiding actually making a decision. Be careful with how much advice you’re seeking. Too much can make a decision even harder to make. Plus, asking the person who grooms your dog and your neighbor and the person stretching next to you at the gym may be a bit much. Find that handful of trusted people and then set a decision cut-off point.
Remind yourself that the decision is yours.
Don’t judge yourself for being convinced by someone OR for following your gut reaction. This step is important. Collect the info, process it however you normally do and then pull the trigger.
Just because you ask for advice doesn’t mean you have to take it. (Tweet this!)
Do a gut check.
While gathering intel from those you trust can be helpful, you often know inside what decision to make- your intuition is your internal compass attempting to guide you. Be silent, sit with the question and listen for the answer. What do you feel called to do? What feels right? Go with that. If it doesn’t align with the advice, screw it!
One last thing…
A few years back I was offered a job working for a competitor; it seemed like a no-brainer. I asked my trusted people what I should do and each told me to take it. They reminded me that I was in a sizzling burn out in my current job and this offer was more money and seemingly less stress. Why wouldn’t I take it, they all said?
In the end, I turned it down. I knew that with my then-upcoming wedding I couldn’t give a new job 100%, and I’d invested in new leaders and didn’t feel it was time to step away from them yet. Concrete reasons? To me, yes. To others, probably not.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy to tell those whose advice I sought that I’d gone the other way.
But I did anyway. I didn’t want to be stuck with something I didn’t feel was right like the pixie haircut the Super Cuts stylist told me was a good look when I was 8. Once I asked her advice, I felt I had to do it. Years of awkward grow-outs help you learn a lesson… (at least you’d think- a mushroom cut, bangs, color experiments still managed to happen.)
(Second row up, 3rd from the left. Yeah, you thought that blondie was a boy, didn’t you?)
However you come to your decision, I ask you not to be ashamed if you go your own way, against the well-intentioned advice. Only you know what’s right and best for you. Ask your intuition to guide you and it will.
Share in the comments below: Have you ever made a decision you knew wasn’t right because you didn’t want to let down those whose opinion you sought? How did it turn out? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s made a bad hair cut decision at the advice of a well-intentioned stylist…
In other news, I’d like to wish the Happiest of Birthdays to the greatest gift to my life: my Mom (that hot little number who looks like she’s not wearing any pants in the picture). Thank you for always offering me your brilliant advice and for teaching me how to follow my own. xo