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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 DeathtoStock_Creative Community8opposite. 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.

Timeline it.

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


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  • Lily November 6, 2014, 7:14 pm

    I have to remind myself to check in with my gut instead of reach out to others. Unless it’s a major business or life decision (or even if it is), I find if I’m already pretty clear on what I want, I don’t need to get other people’s opinions.

    • Anne Omland November 6, 2014, 11:15 pm

      It’s great that you know when to leave it to your own decision. There’s so much good that comes from seeking advice but I agree, sometimes it’s meant to be a solo mission. Thanks Lily!

  • Brenda November 6, 2014, 7:21 pm

    Well, of course because of your example, I can only think of my own childhood hair disaster as well for an analogy. When I was 9, my mother’s hairstylist talked me into perming my hair! I’m Asian with naturally thick, straight hair…you can imagine the HORROR of this! However, I did ask her, and thought for a minute it may not be great but felt bad for asking for an opinion and not taking the advice. Big mistake, but I did learned from it.

    • Anne Omland November 6, 2014, 11:13 pm

      I LOVE this! Perms were really “in” back then! Or maybe that’s just what I’m telling you because I had a perm too (weird because I now have curly hair). When I got it, I then cut bangs on picture day so you can imagine how that looked…very poodle-ish.

  • Stacey November 6, 2014, 8:24 pm

    I’m all about checking in with your gut and listening to your intuition! There are times of course, when I don’t feel a strong intuitive pull towards a decision, so I’ll toss around my thoughts or ideas with another party, but I’ve found that even if their advice is good or valid, I still need to sit with my own thoughts. There is something about making a decision on your own that is empowering, right? Eventually the answers will come…sometimes it just takes a while.

    • Anne Omland November 6, 2014, 11:09 pm

      You’re quite intuitive, Stacey, so this doesn’t surprise me :) . I think having conversations with other people is great to get my mind working toward an answer. So when I feel stuck, I often chat about it with someone and that way I’m able to come to my own conclusion with the help of their energy. Thanks for your comment!

  • victoria m. November 6, 2014, 8:53 pm

    Great food for though Anne. I like that you remind us to really look at the reason why we’re asking others for advice on a subject before blindly going around asking everyone and their dog.
    I personally have a hard time making big decisions and asking others for their input helps me weight the pros and the cons of the situation from other perspectives I may have not considered. In the end, whether I follow other’s advice or not is going to be my decision as well. I can see how others would be hurt but in the end I’m only asking to consider another’s perspective, not to hurt their feelings

    Thank you :)

    • Anne Omland November 6, 2014, 11:08 pm

      Great point, Victoria. I think it’s super helpful to gather other people’s advice and to ultimately make our own decision. Thanks!

  • Elise November 7, 2014, 2:18 am

    I am also a big believer in trusting your gut. Sometimes, however, when I overthink about a situation then I lose sight of what my gut reaction was in the first place. That’s when seeking others advice and talking out loud ends up helping (even if we don’t take the other person’s advice!). If I just slow down and really listen to what I am saying, it usually becomes pretty evident which choice is the right choice. Thanks for writing on this topic. It’s a really good one!

    • Anne Omland November 10, 2014, 8:19 pm

      That’s a really great point, Elise. I also can easily lose sight of my intuition and I’ve noticed that as well- talking it out reminds me of what it is. Great advice!

  • Jenn Hand November 7, 2014, 4:32 pm

    This resonates with me soooo much! I always ask for advice because I’m afraid to listen to my intuition and then when the other person answers, I think “nope, I want to do the opposite”. Maybe it just validates my intuition or something (because it’s often scary to listen when the other way “makes more sense”). Love this article!

    • Anne Omland November 10, 2014, 8:18 pm

      Nice! I’ve often asked advice to validate my intuition too but what I’ve noticed is the person’s I’m asking doesn’t have all the info in the same way my intuition does. It’s a work in progress for sure. The awareness is an awesome starting off point. Thanks Jenn!

  • Kimberley Wiggins November 8, 2014, 6:02 am

    Anne, I must admit. I do a little of both but mostly it’s my gut. I have long since recognized that the feelings I get in my gut I directly linked to my spiritual guidance. I openly embrace that. What you helped me to realize though is those times I reach out for advice I am doing it for some other motive and I need to identify that first so I can be clear and honest with myself. Great article. Thanks

    • Anne Omland November 10, 2014, 8:17 pm

      It’s awesome you’ve identified the guidance and follow it. That’s the hard part for most of us- actually trusting it. Thanks so much, Kim!

  • April November 9, 2014, 10:59 pm

    Another gold mine here Anne! I love your father’s quote! Very wise and very true! I love how you encourage others to go against the grain if they so choose. A recovering people-pleaser myself, I often took advice against my own gut simply because I felt obligated to since I had asked. I especially love how you recommend pinpointing what you’re looking for when seeking advice. Is it just to talk it out yourself, get validation or truly get advice. Great tip! As always, thanks for sharing your wisdom, and happy b-day to Mom!!

    • Anne Omland November 10, 2014, 8:15 pm

      Thank you so much for this, April! The tip that worked best for me was pinpointing why I was seeking the advice- often it wasn’t even to heed it but to talk it out.

  • Lily Lau November 11, 2014, 10:04 pm

    I always appreciate all kind of advice, and tend to follow them unconsciously… but now I also learned it can be wise to ignore some of them, thanks for sharing :)

    • Anne Omland November 20, 2014, 10:05 pm

      Thanks Lily!

  • april November 15, 2014, 7:41 am

    what useful and sage advice, anne! and this is me all the way: “often we know what we want to hear and then we wait for someone to validate us.” i have the good fortune to be able to discuss decisions with my husband who offers thoughtful viewpoints regarding my concerns. he knows and understands me so well that he can quickly figure out which way i’m leaning! and i definitely trust my intuition (i can usually “feel” my answer).

  • Lynne April 17, 2015, 5:12 am

    The perfect equation on how to listen or when not to listen to advice! Hurrah!

    • Anne Omland April 20, 2015, 1:09 pm

      Thank you Lynne!

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