We read advice columns, watch Oprah, ask mentors intricate questions, look up search results on Google, and more. All day, we’re seeking information and help on an array subjects — but be careful.
Newsflash. Not all advice is good advice.
While probably well-intentioned, sometimes advice can cause some major failures. In my experience, there are a few pieces of truly horrible advice that have derailed my success more than I care to admit.
I share them with you, so you may be aware of the bad advice you might’ve received over your lifetime. What’s good and bad is up to you to decide — just make sure you’re aware that it could go either way.
Welcome to Fail. Population: You.
1. “When you’re on a run and feel like taking a break to walk, you might as well stop and go home.”
After receiving this piece of advice on running, I let out a rainfall of mental attacks on my running routines. I had built up solid running endurance (of which I was very proud), but I usually stopped about halfway to walk and recover for five minutes. Once I was told that this was weak, I decided (stupidly) to amp up my running and eliminate my recovery walks entirely.
Guess what happened?
My endurance was shot to hell, and my runs started getting miles and miles shorter. Without the recovery walk, every single run was an uphill battle — a battle I gave up faster than ever before every single time. Instead of a run/walk routine of 50 minutes, I started maxing out at 25-30 minutes of just running.
The worst part? I did this for two entire years without even noticing. I actually didn’t notice until I started to write out this list.
Solution: The recovery walk is officially making its holy return!
2. “Eating healthy foods means you can eat as much as you want!”
Big, monstrous, heavy lie. After I read this in a popular book, I started increasing my intake of healthy foods incredibly. Vegetables, chicken, fruits, and everything I could get my hands on. If somebody told you today that it didn’t matter how much you ate, wouldn’t you do the same?
Yeah, that didn’t go so well.
Before I read the book, I had already been eating healthy for years. All the book changed was the amount of food I allowed myself to consume. I indulged and jumped a few pant sizes in no time. (Okay, one pant size, but you get the idea.) Eating all those veggies was fun, but moderation will probably always be key.
Solution: Moderate meals are back in action, with a splurge here and there. Since I’m already good on the healthy quality, the key is quantity.
3. “Everyone older than you knows better than you.”
How about not?
I guess we’ve all received this advice as more of a rule from the time we were born. We’re raised to respect and learn from our elders — until that day comes where you realize it’s all buuuuullshit.
Don’t get me wrong. There are tons of awesomely amazing people older than I am who have taught me a lot, but I’ve learned just as much from observing other elders and realizing they are totally wrong. It’s also a huge confidence booster to realize that, despite their advanced age, I know more than them in a few areas. They know lots of their stuff, but I know my stuff better — independent of the age gap.
Solution: I’ve become wary of information, putting much more emphasis on the source. Also? Anyone can be an expert and badass — including me!
Avoid bad advice by asking, “Does this apply to me?”
Like I mentioned before, not all advice is bad, but I find it important to be wary of any kind of advice thrown your way. Advice is a piece of learned experience being passed down from one person to the next, but just because it was helpful to them doesn’t mean it will be helpful to you.
To make the distinction, these are a few questions that can help:
- Are my goals the same as this person’s?
- Am I at the point where this advice is relevant to me?
- Am I ready for that piece of advice?
- Does this advice apply to me, in my situation and with my unique personality and mission?
- Will following this advice be too easy/difficult for me?
- Will following this advice cause me to backtrack in my goals and progress?
Writing down this list of bad advice has really made squeamish about all the advice I’ve handed out to friends and family in the past. I’m pretty sure there are bubbles of Marcella’s Bad Advice floating in the heads of people all over — yuck. But I hope the bubbles of the Good Advice are much more plentiful and worthwhile.
Either way, I hope my list helps you in determining what’s worth listening to and what isn’t. Experience is golden, as long as it fits well with you.