As you know, I ran a personal finance blog for two years. I created the blog for three reasons: (1) to help people with their finances, (2) to reinforce what I was learning, and (3) to make a living from blogging.

At the start of this blog, I absorbed everything I could on personal finance. I read the classics, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I read The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, followed up by Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

I read numerous other books in the following months and had a good grasp on personal finance. I gave advice to anyone who was willing to listen to me.

I would also write 2 posts per week about personal finance topics that I conjured up during the slow work day.

Do THIS, not that

In these posts I would pick an area people struggle with. Then I would tell them what to do.

Save 10% of your income. Open an IRA account. Don’t go into debt. You get the idea…

I felt like an authority. I believed as an authority it was up to me to tell people what to do.

It was all out of the goodness of my heart. Honestly. I didn’t think I was better than anyone. But I expressed what I thought people should do.

This began to trickle into my personal life

I would give advice to my girlfriend. “Do this instead.”

I would give advice to my sister. “Why are you doing it that way? Do it this way.”

I would have arguments with family members. I told them why they were wrong and why they should think about a particular situation differently. I’m not proud of those moments.

I had my view of the world and wanted everyone to conform to that view. Not necessarily in a negative way. It was just how I believed the world should be.

This changed last year

A year ago I became interested Buddhist concepts and philosophies. As I was reading, I came across a quote that stuck with me:

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

The Buddha himself essentially told people not to blindly follow what he said. It was his way of saying, try this yourself. If you like it, continue to use it. If not, move on.

And this idea struck a chord. All this time I was telling people what to do, what to think, what to believe.

I had my view of the world and what the right thing to do was. But that wasn’t the right thing to do.

The fault in giving advice

Derek Sivers was interviewed last month on the James Altucher Show. In this podcast, he asked James about how he deals with giving advice.

Derek went on to say that he never knew what to tell someone who came to him seeking advice.

For example, one person wanted to know if they should quit their job to pursue an entrepreneurial venture full-time.

Derek said he wasn’t sure what to tell this person. Should he tell them to quit? Or should he tell them to stick with their current job?

The dilemma caused him to think about the fault in giving advice.

Advice is a double-edged sword

Any advice we give to others is based 100% off our personal life experiences. It’s based off the knowledge and actions we have taken throughout our lives. And it may not always be the best advice.

That’s why it’s not useful to tell someone what to do in their life. Especially if you get into a position where people trust your opinion and will do whatever you tell them.

That’s where I could see Derek’s problem. What if he told them to quit their job and dive in full-time and they failed. Would it be his fault? Not really. But I’m sure he would feel pretty bad.

But what if he told them not to quit, and they never get that fire under their ass to turn their venture into something big. Is that also his fault?

I don’t tell anyone what to do, just what I’ve done

From these experiences, I’ve learned that it’s not my place to tell people what to do.

Even in their articles, I do my best to present to you things that I do that work for me, and encourage you to try them out for yourself. But I refrain from telling you what to do.

And this is where I leave it. “This is what I did in this situation. This is the end result. This is how I feel. Try it out yourself.”

I feel better now, not telling others what to do. I merely make suggestions based off my life experience.

Try this out yourself and see how it makes you feel. If you like it, great! If not, that’s okay too.

Do you ever find yourself telling others what to do? Or do you have others in your life who always seem to have advice for every thing? How does it make you feel?

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39 thoughts on “Why I don’t tell people what to do anymore

  1. Usually people seeking advice want advice, but may more people may be ‘asking’ for advice when really they want to be heard, validated and supported. Good idea to listen and offer what worked for you, because as you mentioned what worked for you may not work for others. Most of us just want to be heard.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is very true. I know personally at times when I ask for advice, I already have an answer, I just need to talk it through with someone. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Completely agree. Sometimes individuals are trying to come to a decision and are sifting ideas as to how to deal with something and just want to hear different viewpoints before coming to either their own decisions or based on one they have heard before. Justin your approach is correct. That way we try to avoid the ego in what we saying and come from a place of wanting to help. Loved this post. Thanks for being truthful!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I totally know what you are talking about. I have a strong tendency to tell people what they should do especially if they come for advise. But sometimes I feel i will become an unpleasant person because no one really wants to hear advise from others all the time. Also people are different and I should not expect them to think in the same way as I do ( I should not assume mine is correct).

    That’s why I started to blog and record my own thoughts instead of sharing with friends around.

    And I like your way of telling people what you do in your own situations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s great that you recognized this and started a blog to share your ideas! I find writing to be a great outlet for getting ideas out there and connecting with like minded people who share a similar outlook. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  3. Thanks Justin, awesome post. One day I went to my mother shortly after I started working and earning my own income. I said to her here is my finances, I want to buy me this thing. Please tell me what to do, is it okay to buy this thing? She said I am sorry but that is something you have to figure out yourself. I was so disappointed but later could see her reasoning. She wanted me to learn (if necessary) by my own mistakes and/or successes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great that she let you decide what to do instead of telling you what to do. At the end of the day this is the best way to learn.

      Like

    1. Very true and to the point. Most people already have an answer in their head, they just want to hear it from someone else 🙂

      Like

  4. I came by to say thank you for following my blog. I’m glad that I did ’cause I had the chance to read some of your posts. Really good.. 🙂 Now I am following you too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha, yeah, I have this bad habit of giving advice, especially when people share their problems with me. I am still learning that sometimes people just want a listening ear, not sagely commandments! Thanks for writing this post!

    Like

  6. There is an unusual amount of wisdom in this post and comments. My takeaway is that I should ask for advice more as I could learn from others’ experience. I gave up offering advice years ago even tho I know everything🙂.
    In my experience it is as rare as hen’s teeth that you change anyones mind through advice and argument. Didn’t that women like to be told what to do sometimes – I’ll look out for that. Freddy

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A lovely piece of writing outlining a simple yet wholesome learning experience.

    The other side of course is that a lot of people ‘looking for advice’ are in fact looking for corroborative evidence to support their fixed view point. In this, there is no space for you to give your opinion at all.

    Thanks for sharing

    Eli

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    1. Eli, that is very true. Sometimes I find it difficult to know when someone is actually seeking advice or when they are just looking for support of their point of view.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post! In a few of my blog posts, I tell a story or one of my experiences related to the advice I am writing about. Most of the time, what I write about is what I am working on within myself. Telling my story helps put people at ease knowing they are not alone and comes from a place of humility.

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    1. Very true Jodi! I like to follow that same approach myself. I’ve found those people going through a similar experience will find a ton of value from your words.

      Thanks for the comment Jodi!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a wonderful post and I am using this philosophy too, I’m a transformational motivator but I don’t like telling people what to do. Instead, I implore them to evaluate my writings and use it in a best way suitable for them.

    Like

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