Advice is useless. I remember a line from The Lord of the Rings, when an elf told Frodo that they don’t give advice “because all paths may run ill.” Psychological science has recently confirmed what J.R.R. Tolkien tried to tell us a long time ago. After over four decades of running against frustration over advice gone ill in my own life, and other peoples’ refusal to listen to my advice, I’ve learned that all advice is pretty much disregarded, because we’re more inclined to lean toward paths we find ourselves. The truth is that a mix of unique perspectives and circumstances make it impossible for us to advise people in any situation. I even read that advice is more likely to confuse people than to help them, and psychologists and therapists are now recommending that people don’t ask for a lot of advice on their problems, because too much is information overload.
That’s not to say that you can’t talk to people about your problems. Rather, you should limit how many people you talk about things an ‘inner circle’ of 2-3 people, and to use discernment in finding the best way forward. Knowing what did and didn’t work for others can be a guide, as long as you aren’t overloaded by it.
The power of positive thinking. I knew that a positive mindset is valuable and important, but I didn’t realize how much of a difference it can make until Rick and I watched The Secret in 2014. I knew from my degree and experiences and conversations with therapists and pastors that changing how you think is the foundation of changing your life, but I didn’t realize how much power is in our hands to do it until Rick and I decided to watch this film on Netflix one night. Yes, it is hard to change how you think, but it’s also amazing how your entire life can change solely based on whether you choose to look at life through lens of gratitude or a lens of lack.
Unfortunately, another thing I’ve learned is that a positive mindset isn’t part of human nature, so you have to keep working at it. It’s not a “one and done” thing; it’s a daily decision to have a positive mindset and ground yourself in gratitude. I bought an ebook copy of The Secret and The Power, and make a point of rereading them two or three times a year, just to remind myself to check myself, so I don’t unintentionally wreck myself.
Wear sensible shoes. Plantar fascia and a broken bone in my left foot in 2014-2015 convinced me to throw out my high heeled shoes and invest in comfortable, sensible shoes. Ladies, I have an uncomfortable truth for you: those sky high heels aren’t doing you any favors, and you’ll pay for them in middle age. Don’t do it. It took a lot of pain and slow healing for me to learn that I’ll be short no matter how high my shoes are, and nobody really cares anyway. You may not be a fashion queen, but you can look as nice and professional in a pair of flats as you can in 4 inch heels. Actually, I’ve heard them referred to as “stripper shoes,” and another more derogatory term by men, so it’s possible you aren’t sending the message you want to around the office. Don’t hurt youself for the sake of vanity. It isn’t worth it. Respect comes from within, not from clomping around in an expensive pair of spike heels that are tearing your foot tendons to shreds.
Failure is better than regret. I didn’t have any connections in the writing industry when I got the bright idea to become a writer when Rick and I got a computer at home in 2000. All I had was desire, and ideas. I even joke that I started out with less than nothing, and had to write and get rejected for 3 years before I worked up to nothing and started getting better. It was a lot of trial and error, and then ebooks came, everything changed, and I’ve been relearning the business as I go. It’s ever changing and ever challenging, sometimes to my delight and sometimes to my frustration. But I will say this after 18+ years on the journey: it’s worth it, and I’m glad I did it. My original plan was to pursue writing after I retired, but I would have missed the opportunity to break into the industry in those critical first days of the ebook business that helped me get established if I stuck with that plan. I’m grateful that I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to chuck my perfect plans and do it His way after reading Joyce Meyer’s How to Succeed at Being Yourself.
I failed a lot. I still do. My book sales still aren’t what I hoped they would be after this many years doing it. I even joked on social media recently that my royalty payments and sales rank need to change places, because I’m frustrated by not seeing “#1” by my book titles on Amazon. But I’m glad I’m on the journey, because another thing I’ve learned is that fortune favors the persistent. I’m no Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, but I do reach more people with my writing than I do with my day job, and outreach to entertain and inspire is the true goal whether it puts fat stacks of cash in the bank or not. I would have missed a lot of opportunity and probably would have failed if I wanted until after retirement to start writing again – and how many ideas would have been wasted? I realized yesterday that I’ve published 20 books on Amazon, and that doesn’t count articles, contributions to anthologies, blogs, social media posts, book reviews, contests, and various other things online and in magazines. I’m not rich or famous but at least it exists, and that means more to me than regret over missed opportunities. The foundation is built, and there’s potential for growth. That wouldn’t exist if I had disobeyed the prompting of the Spirit and gone my own way.
Nobody can tell you everything you need to know in life. Sometimes, you have to get out there and find it yourself. And sometimes, those are the most powerful lessons that lead to the best rewards. Education builds a foundation. Experience takes you where it will. Advice may go well or badly. But what you find yourself speaks to the heart, and usually is the right word in the right season to lead you in the right direction. Don’t doubt your ability to find your way. You’ll never go wrong if you walk in faith, prayer, and obedience to the Holy Spirit. Those prompting are always on time, and always highly individualized.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great rest of the week.