I’ve been thinking a lot lately about advice and how it can change your life in unexpected ways. Even the smallest piece of advice, both if ignored or taken to heart and followed to the letter, can send you in a completely different direction, guiding events and altering the course of your life in magical or sometimes disastrous ways. Here are a few examples of pieces of advice, both large and small, that looking back on them now I realize changed my life.
- When I was 13, my dad told my mom and I to offer the minimum bid on a two year old Arabian at auction and that offer was accepted – where would I be today if that wonderful horse had not come into my life? He changed my life in so many ways that I’m considering writing a book about it! What if we had not taken my dad’s advice and just walked away? My life would be totally different.
- When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a horse trainer when I grew up. But in my teens my horse trainer told me to get a job that supported showing horses as a hobby and advised against doing it as a job – would I have been working with horses all these years instead of working in an office? Would I have been happier doing that if I had not taken his advice? Or possibly unhappy?
- My academic advisor in college suggested I pursue a marketing degree when I wanted to be a double English/History major – would I be a journalist, an author, or a history teacher now instead of a web designer?
- My mom and dad wanted me to come to Florida right after high school, but I decided to stay in Buffalo, NY where I was showing my horse and went to college – if I had come to Florida five years earlier would the timing have been off for me to meet the love of my life and husband of 15 years? Would I have met someone else first?
- Six years ago my husband Scott encouraged me to join a competitive tennis league and although I was reluctant, I took his advice and have met some of my best friends through playing tennis and have stayed in better shape. Would my mental and physical health be as good as it is today if I wasn’t getting all this extra exercise and enjoying more connections with people?
These are just a few of the bigger instances in my life where advice taken or not taken has altered the path of my life in major ways. I’m sure there are many smaller pieces of advice I have heeded or ignored that have changed things as well.
While I can’t tell you if advice is good or bad, I can tell you that being mindful of the impact every day choices make in our lives is a good practice. All we have to go on are our gut instincts, maybe a second opinion from a good friend, possibly a hastily written “pros and cons” list scribbled on a napkin, and extended periods of time to see how things will work out. Often times we are living our days through trial and error. We celebrate our good choices and learn from our mistakes. Mindfulness can help us to not only make better decisions now, but to avoid making the same mistakes twice.
As for me, I love being a web designer and now feel certain I’m not teacher material. I still love history and spend much of my free time reading history books and watching documentaries. And I could still be a novelist. Do I wish I had gone to a different college? Yes. In retrospect, a college with a strong equestrian team and a rural campus should have been my choice. But I’m not unhappy with the degree I got. It’s just different from what I would choose now I have had time (a lot of time! LOL!) to reflect back. I’ve also always regretted the fact that I was never a rodeo queen. What girl from the 80’s doesn’t love big hair, excessive fringe, and blue eyeshadow? But that’s a story for another post.
Is there any advice you’ve taken that has changed the course of your life? Is there advice you took and wished you hadn’t? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.