Giving advice is a tricky thing. People want to help, and they try to offer advice that sounds good and seems reasonable, but people often give bad advice. Usually people mean well when they give bad advice, but it would mean more if they would just keep their mouths shut. Here is a list of bad advice that I’ve received, heard, or read. I offer counterparts to each piece of advice.
1. Every career decision you make must line up directly with your specific field. While certain careers require specific educational tracks and work experiences, you might have to take a job at some point during the journey that varies from your specific field. You might do this for a number of reasons: extra cash, savings to pay off student loans, health insurance, benefits, development of certain skills, resume building, etc.
2. Your career path is a straight line. You might have a number of internships in college or grad school that have nothing to do with each other, or you might have some twists and turns in your journey to that dream career. That’s okay. You want to survey all of those and see what you learned from each one.
3. Wait until you make X number of dollars before you donate, tithe, or help out people in need. This is a big lie. Like with anything else in life that you spend money on, the bottom line is that if you don’t budget for giving, then either you won’t do it, or you’ll overdo it.
4. Don’t volunteer. I received this advice in college, and unfortunately, I took it to heart for a semester, but only for a semester. Worst semester ever. When you volunteer, you help organizations provide invaluable services to people in need, and you develop skills that you will likely us later on. Part of a successful, alluring business is the fact that they give back and that they care about more than just their bottom line.
5. Take everyone’s advice without filtering it. Filter advice you receive, including this post. Set up a grid through which you run other people’s input and ideas through.
6. Take no advice. Ever. This one is dangerous. While it’s good to stay focused on what you know you have to do, it is also wise to consider advice that other people give you.
7. In order for your dreams to work out, you have to take the same path everyone else takes to get the job of their dreams. Your journey is yours. It does not belong to anyone else. Just because someone did a, b, and c to land the job of their dreams does not mean that you have to take the same steps.
8. You can’t succeed in the same position for which someone else is known. This one can really trap people. You see someone who is really successful in the exact job position that you want, and you think to yourself, “Well, that person has already cornered the market there, so I need to change career paths.” That’s a lie. Just because Jane Doe is a successful news anchor does not mean that Sally Smith can’t be a successful news anchor. There is room for you to be successful, too.
9. Don’t take a course is something that is not related to your specific job. While I was in college and grad school, people couldn’t understand why I wanted to take certain courses. The courses were not in my degree plan, so why waste the time and money? Well, first of all, if you’re really concerned about the courses I’m taking, you can send me a tuition check, and then I’ll take your course advice. 😉 You have to look at the big picture. You are not a one-trick pony, and your career path is not just limited to one specific job. Undergraduate and graduate education are the perfect times in your life to learn more about the world and that which inspires you.
10. Only apply for a job when you’re ready to apply for one. This one can be true and false. You certainly don’t want to apply for a job that you would be miserable in, but you also don’t want to become a couch potato. If you really want a job, you need to apply even when you don’t feel like it. You need a job for all kinds of reasons, and in the meantime while you are saving up money and honing some valuable skills, you can look for something that will be more fulfilling.
11. Never seek out help from a colleague who is more successful than you. You see person in #8, and you start having jealous thoughts about him or her. Why talk to him or her for advice? The world is really big, and there are different niches. Just because that person might be more successful than you right now does not mean that you won’t be as successful one day. Everyone has to start at the beginning, and you need to glean as much wisdom from people who are more successful than you. That doesn’t make you any less of a person, and it doesn’t mean that you will be less influential. Take the opportunity while you have the time to meet with as many people as possible and learn from them.
12. You can’t ever buy what you want because you’ll never have enough money for it. You might not have the money right now to get what you want, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save up for it. One of the greatest rewards in life is saving up for something special and then being able to go and buy it.
13. You’ll always be stuck in your current position. I’ve heard this applied to jobs, to one’s current financial situation, to one’s current field of work, or to one’s emotional state, but it is a flat. out. lie. Figure out what specifically makes you happy and what would give you the greatest fulfillment in terms of career. Talk to a career consultant; make a plan; and go get what you want. When you get to the end of your life, what do you want to say about the life that you lived?
14. All of your decisions have to make sense to the people in your life. Some people may not understand why you are taking a year off to travel the world. They may not get why you would study in another country. They may not understand why you would take a college course in pottery, take a certain job position, etc. So what? They aren’t living your life. You are living your life. You get to call the shots. You get to make the decisions in your life. Don’t let anyone make you feel less confident in your choices.