The Most Valuable Advice You Will Ever Receive

Have you ever noticed how, at an engagement party, or baby shower or graduation party, people tend to give all kinds of advice?

“Start investing now—you won’t regret it.”

“A water birth really is the way to go.”

“Whatever you do, don’t go to bed angry!”

This is all well-meaning advice, of course, and some of it actually pretty wise. But here’s the real problem with much of the advice we give: giving advice is not the same as living that advice.

Telling someone your advice is much easier than living it out.

When I think back to the advice I’ve been given in my own life—about college, about career, about relationships—I’m grateful for some of it. But some of it I also think took me off track. When I was choosing a major in college, for example, I had several people tell me, “it’s nice that you want to be a writer, but choose a major that is going to get you a job.”

I took the advice. After all, it was practical and smart. But because of that advice I paid a lot of money for a degree I’m not using.

So was this good advice for me? Maybe not.

All is not lost. My skills and expertise have gotten me to where I am and I’m finding innovative ways to put my degree to work. But sometimes I wish someone would have just looked me in the eye when I was in college and said: forget what everyone else tells you should “should” do.

Do what you want to do.

Do what you think is right. Trust your instinct.

Do what works.

I used to read a lot of self-help books. I liked them. It felt comforting and nice to have someone tell me exactly how things were supposed to be done, to give me a list of all the steps. And, hey, when my life didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, I could blame the books. After all, I followed the formula. I worked the plan.

I didn’t have to blame myself.

But while there is a lot to be learned from those resources, the most important advice I can ever get doesn’t come from a book or a blog.

The most important advice I can ever receive comes from inside myself.

The most valuable relationships I can have, the most valuable resources I can get my hands on, are those people and sources which help me uncover that pure, unadulterated inner guidance.

There really are not shortcuts. No amount of good advice can save me from the inevitable pain and obstacles of life.

There are multiple “right” answers to most problems and the best answer is usually this:

Do what works.

Be willing to try and fail and try again. Be humble and learn quickly from your mistakes. Pay attention and be agile and adjust quickly. Don’t let insecurity get in the way. Figure out what works for you and then do it.

Trust your instinct. Trust your gut.

So if you’re feeling lost in your relationship or your career or as a parent or just in life—or if you’ve just graduated or are about to have a baby or are newly married and you’re getting a bunch of advice—remember this: advice is much easier to give than it is to execute.

Don’t dismiss the advice. Give it a try. But if the advice isn’t working, try something else.

Don’t worry about finding the “right” answer or the best answer or the most impressive answer.

Just do what works.


No, seriously, we can be friends...we can email back and forth and everything! :) 

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Allison Fallon

I write books. I help people write books. I believe a regular practice of writing can change your life.

15 thoughts on “The Most Valuable Advice You Will Ever Receive”

  1. Giving and taking advice is indeed a risky business. I was surprised when some young friends who had been going to buy a fixer-upper while keeping their present house decided…apparently…to hold off on the purchase until the present house sold. We had not been giving advice exactly but had described our dilemma several decades ago when we had gotten a short-term mortgage to buy the second house while being confident that our present house would sell, only to be grateful to lose $10K when it finally sold a year later and the 21{9ac618bfda39dd0c8c9a0232963cb9a2adfe54a7367c2d4954ad9e847b2e5305} interest had cleaned us out. In a sense it was not advice but rather a cautionary very personal tale which they chose to heed.

  2. I recently experienced this regarding the discipleship program I started. An older, “wiser” woman, experienced in non-profits, kindly tried telling me this wasn’t the right time, I should get a real job, even as going so far to send me job postings.

    I always assumed because people were older, they knew best. I learned a valuable lesson in this.

    She didn’t know best. God put a dream on my heart to follow and I have to walk in obedience to Him, not her.

    Great post!

  3. “Do what you want to do.

    Do what you think is right. Trust your instinct.”

    I have known far too many people that don’t know what they want to do, so they make it up as they go along. The knowledge and understanding of right and wrong is very cloudy now. Instinct can be very wrong.

    A good article, but I believe the balance is in the context. Listen to people who lead lives you want to emulate. Listen to people who are doing what you believe/feel you want to do. Balance your instinct with aspirations.

    1. I don’t necessarily agree. It’s MY gut, it might be wrong, but if I make a mistake, that’s okay, too. Following advice of people whose life I want to emulate or listening to others who are doing what I may want to is all well and good, but they’re not ME, what worked for them may also not be right for me. Also, their advice is always biased, just like mine. Humans are biased, we can be wrong. Listening to advice from others is important; I believe in input from a variety of sources, but making your own – informed – decision based on your own gut instinct (which forms for a reason, too, whether it’s “right” or “wrong”) is an important life step in my opinion.

      There is no right answer. God can work with whatever decisions we make, however we make them. Seek, seek, seek; from God, others, within, and then know He is in control, regardless.

  4. Relative to your comment about your degree and your work–I don’t think I’ve worked a single day within the framework of my degree unless you count working as a graduate assistant while in grad school.

    I also never bought into the myth of college degree as skill training for life’s work. I always believed in the now-archaic view of Liberal Arts–education prepares you for a lifetime of learning.

    I’m willing to believe that your education helped you in many ways–discipline, learning, writing–aside from the content (which goes obsolete within a few years anyway).

  5. I love your writing, but just a thought as I was reading this article. You are giving advice on not taking advice!!!

  6. Thank you so much for this! It was exactly what I needed to hear. It is so important to have a close watch on who you let speak into you life. Words are so powerful and they can have such an influence on how you view everything.

  7. I often struggle with this! Thank you for sharing your heart! This is really encouraging! Thanks for putting your thoughts and passions on paper because your insight has really changed my life. I don’t know you, but I feel like God has used you in my life in a very indirect way to reach my heart. Thanks for speaking so openly. Loved reading both of your books! You are truly gifted at writing.

  8. When a piece of advice sticks like a lump in your throat, because:
    you know in your heart that the person who gave it to you said it out of love,
    AND it feels true for you,
    it could save your life. Listen. Then decide.
    These gems don’t happen very often.
    Most advice is from people with regrets who wish a better experience for others.
    But no one can know what is true for you, even if they have similar experience.

  9. I struggled with this for a while. I wanted to leave the country I live in and my job, and return to my native country where job prospects are not so good. My parents and my boyfriend kept giving me advice, sometimes quite aggressively so, and tried to heavily influence me to stay. And I followed it because I valued their advice – but I’m annoyed with them because they didn’t value my feelings. I got more and more miserable, and my boyfriend got angrier and angrier with always being sad and bitter. I knew what would make me happy and I wasn’t doing it. Then I decided enough was enough, and I quit my job and my mum told me I’d made a big mistake and my boyfriend is angry that nothing he can say can influence me. I don’t know why he would want to.

    Listen to people’s advice, for sure. But don’t feel pressured to take it because they insist they know better.

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