February 22, 2023
min read

What’s The Point of Advice?

People who are successful probably aren’t sitting online reading articles about how to be successful.

This popped up on my Twitter feed a few days ago and I remember feeling a surge of anger when I read it. How dare you question me trying to improve myself?

But after I calmed down and thought about it a bit more, it made me question the point of reading all this advice online.

Reading, whether it’s articles on Medium or books, has made such a huge difference in my life, especially in the past year. It’s helped shape my thinking, challenge my views, and grow in ways I never would have done on my own.

But most of the advice I’ve read, I don’t follow — no matter how much I’d like the results in my life. I wish I could instantly put all the advice I heard into action… I’d be superhuman. But I can’t, so what’s the point of advice?

My view is, the point of advice isn’t to change our actions, it’s to change our decisions.

More importantly, the point of advice is to give us the power to decide.

I’ll expand on this thought a bit more.

The way I see it, all our actions can be categorized into two types: instinctive and decisive. Things like habits and routines are instinctive. So is that time we reacted to someone’s comment by lashing out at them. Decisive actions are when we actually decide on a certain course of action. When we stand in front of the freezer at the grocery store deciding if we should get ice cream? That’s decisive. Both can be good and bad.

The most important difference between these two types of actions is the moment of choice. With instinctive action, you never get a moment of choice. You don’t really decide every morning whether you’re going to brush your teeth — your body is just on autopilot once you wake up. On the other hand, decisive action is all about that moment of choice. You decide whether you’re going to cave and get ice cream.

Why is this important? Because it’s those moments of choice that make you who you are. Those are the only opportunities you have to improve yourself and become who you want to be. The value of advice is that it gives us more of those moments of choice… and it helps us make the right decisions when we get them.

Take the goal of waking up early, for example. Most people start off by just setting their alarm earlier. But after a few days in, they inevitably get frustrated when they keep sleeping in past the alarm because they don’t hear it go off. If they keep focusing on that moment their alarm goes off, they’re never going to achieve their goal. Why? Because there’s no moment of choice. They’re literally unconscious… there’s nothing they can do in that moment. But a common piece of advice for people to wake up earlier is to set an alarm for when to go to bed. It works because it shifts your focus to create a moment of choice that you can control. When your alarm goes off at night, you get to decide whether you’ll go to bed or ignore it. That moment you can change. And when you make the right decisions, to go to bed, you’ll have a better chance at hearing your alarm in the morning because you slept earlier.

The key to making any type of change is to find (or create) that moment of choice and own it.

Your actions make you who you are, but its your choices that will turn you into who you want to become.


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