Life Advice

Not from a life coach, personal development guru, or some other self-professed expert on life, but from those whose advice I think it’s actually worth paying attention to: those older than you.

First is Life Advice From Old People (via Kottke)–a video blog containing nothing but interviews with a wide range of ‘old’ people, including Farmer Tom, Jon Voight and Errol Morris.

Some more colourful advice comes from The Musty Man (via Ben Casnocha) who, on his 30th birthday, decided to offer some no-nonsense advice to those living in their 20’s. The best of the Musty Man’s advice I’ve read is on relationships, although it’s all great.

As is the standard at MeFi, the advice offered to this recent graduate is more functional and eminently useful. This is one piece of advice I subscribe to wholeheartedly:

Make your bed every day — as soon as you get up. Something about that one small thing sets the tone for the rest of the day; are you going to be lazy, or are you going to get something done?

More concisely, this list of 30 pieces of advice for young men from an old man is fairly good, especially the last item:

97% of all advice is worthless. Take what you can use, and trash the rest.

As for advice from meta-careerists; Ben Casnocha’s thoughts mirror mine perfectly:

The best advice on networking will come from someone who is not a professional networker. The best advice on entrepreneurship will come someone whose entrepreneurship is not selling books and workshops about entrepreneurship. Writers who write about anything other than writing for a living usually have the best advice on writing.

Like many others in my situation (someone attempting to figure out the direction they want their life to go in) I love hearing advice from a diverse range of people. If you have some, or even just a choice quote, please offer it up in the comments. I would appreciate it more than you can imagine.



5 responses to “Life Advice”

  1. Paul

    Advice for young men.

    1. Learn to be a moderate. There are so many angry young men around that being a moderate on political and social issues actually gains respect from people outside your immediate peergroup. It is all too easy to have extreme views on topics. Bite your lip if you have to. Learn how to sound unconvinced, without saying “I’m not convinced by your stupid argument!”.

    2. Next time you go clothes shopping, take a female with you and actually listen to their advice. Your mother doesn’t count though. Women love shopping – especially if its with someone else’s money!

    3. Live in a foreign country for a while. Preferably not an English speaking one. Travel really does broaden the mind and makes you a more considerate person (towards people outside your peergroup) and more discerning person (about your own country).

    4. Read. Not articles on the Internet, but old-fashioned dead tree media. Get to know a fiction author you like and read everything they did. You’ll express yourself better (something they might not have taught you to do at school) and you’ll have something genuinely interesting to talk about.

    5. Take risks early on. Hope for the best and plan for the worst. Having a Plan B and a Plan C usually mean you’ll never need them. If you fail, take the pain! And take it with good humour. If you find yourself doing something you hate, start planning your exit strategy but don’t plan on just sticking around in the hope it’ll get better – it won’t.

  2. I love this! Deciding to make my bed in the morning is one of the most difficult tasks I face all day.

    I work on a TV show and our whole goal is to get advice from professionals in various fields to give advice to college students – specifically the questions come from students.

    So last year I interviewed travel writer Paul Theroux and he gave some of the more interesting advice for writers I’ve heard:

    The first rule I tell young writers when they tell me they want to write is “leave home.” Because if you stay home people will ask you questions you can’t answer. They say “What are you going to write.” “where will you publish it?” “Whose going to pay you?” “How will you make a living?” No one has answers to those questions. If you leave home no one asks you questions like that.

  3. Paul,

    Taking a woman shopping and listening to her advice is something I’ve very recently learned. In the past few weeks I’ve actually done this and have improved my appearance immeasurably. Not only that, but I now feel much, much better while wearing these well-fitting clothes.

    As for living in a non-English speaking foreign country and taking risks early on—this is something I really did need to hear today.

    I’m currently on a train, travelling to Heathrow before an extended vacation in Japan and Australia. On this trip I plan to think long and hard about my career and a possible move abroad.


  4. Zack,

    That’s a great quote, thanks. I’ll check out the full interview once I get a decent Internet connection again.

  5. Rebecca

    There is also ‘1001 Rules for my unborn son’ which is great. Even if you’re a girl who has already been born.