I often have internal debates with myself. I start with a premise… And then I try to counter that premise. It’s how I rationalize decisions. It doesn’t necessarily always lead to any new discoveries or insights. But I feel like it keeps the wheels churning. It keeps me thinking. And every once in a while, I come up with a new idea.
One idea that I recently came up with formed after hearing advice from a few different people. Each person I listened to gave different types of advice. However, the advice was conflicting. One person would say, “In order to become successful in life, you need to constantly reward yourself”. The other person would say, “In order to become successful in life, you need to hold off on rewards and delay gratification”. But you can’t do both simultaneously. Is there some nuance to the advice that I’m missing? Suddenly, I realized a few things: 1) Ideals are different for everyone
2) There are infinite paths to the same destination
3) There’s no point listening to someone I wouldn’t swap lives with
In this article, I want to address the third point.
I think this third idea is important to keep in mind. Everyone has different lives and everyone took different actions to live a certain lifestyle. If someone says that it’s important to budget like Dave Ramsey and remain frugal like Graham Stephen, this advice isn’t necessarily terrible. However, I think there is a very IMPORTANT thing to consider. DO YOU WANT TO LIVE LIKE DAVE RAMSEY OR GRAHAM STEPHEN?
For the record, this has nothing to do with Dave Ramsey or Graham Stephen in particular. I only bring them up because I often watch or study people in Real Estate and Finance and listen to their advice and their names are popular in those industries. This article has more to do with the idea of modeling. While I think it’s valuable to listen to others and learn from their mistakes and successes, I think the primary idea to keep in mind when listening to someone’s advice is: Would I trade lives with them right here and right now? Personally, I think this is a crucial test to use. And, by the way, when I say right here and right now, I mean immediately. For example, let’s say you want to succeed in your field. Your mentor is relatively successful based on what you desire, however, let’s say he’s also 200 lbs overweight and lives a hermit lifestyle. While you might enjoy socializing on the weekends and on the weekdays if possible, he might not enjoy the company of others. In this scenario, I’d suggest you ask yourself a question: Would you trade places with him right here and now? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t listen to all of his advice. You can digest it like a sample from a restaurant and you shouldn’t simply subscribe to it like a cure-all medication. I suggest this because his steps will lead you to be exactly like he currently is. Think about that. Everything he has done has led him to where he is. Perhaps the way he works made him stressed and caused him to overeat. Or, perhaps he was so opposed to socializing that his work habits were perfect for him as he never felt like he was missing out. While this is perfect for him, this wouldn’t work for the social butterfly like yourself, right? I’ve begun to apply this framework to my own life. Personally, I’m single and enjoy it. I have no plans on having kids in the near future and I enjoy a balance of concentrated work and socializing. Some of the things I enjoy doing such as partying, bar hopping, flirting with random girls, and reading might not line up exactly with what everyone else enjoys.
In that case, I should model people who have the lifestyle I desire who also party, bar hop, flirt with random girls, and read.
Do you understand?
Up until recently, I simply listened to people who were conventionally successful.
Sure, this person had millions of dollars, which I also desire, but he also has a wife, 5 kids, and never goes out to socialize. Some of that lines up with what I want but not all of it.
In this case, I think it’s best to take pieces of advice but discard the rest.
If you’re reading this, give my exercise a shot.
The next time anyone gives you advice, including me, ask yourself this key question:
Would I trade my life with him/her, right here and right now?
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