How do you differentiate between good advice and bad advice?
This is a critically important thing to understand in life, because bad advice can really fuck your life up, and good advice can catapult you orders of magnitude beyond your current level of performance - in whatever you're doing.
I've paid for advice in the form of coaching from experts (for example, in writing fiction), received terrible advice from adults who massively retarded by development, and given excellent advice that was harshly rebuked because it offended the ego of the person receiving it.
The first, and most important thing to understand about advice is that advice is autobiography. If you ask someone how to accomplish a specific task, all they can really tell you is how they accomplished that task.
The key question to ask yourself is: is this person like me? Do they have the same skills as me? The same aptitude? If not, are we similar in whatever respect is salient to the task at hand?
If not, then the advice they have to give might not apply to you. If a man who's naturally good at basketball tries to teach you the fundamentals of the sport, it's probably completely useless to you if you have no natural aptitude - you're solving entirely different problems.
Worse even than advice on how to do something is advice on why to do something. This really just amounts to one person telling you what they value, and that you should value the same thing. I wasted years of my life believing fictions about the fundamental nature of reality because I mindlessly trusted the advice of my elders, and from pastors, on how I should live and direct my life.
So much effort, so much suffering, for total nonsense.
Instead of listening to what they valued, I should have asked them why they valued it. It's the meta-question that matters, because it's not clear that we should all value the same things. Certain values map on better to a person's happiness than others. There is variation in this, as there is variation in everything else. Those of us who are inclined to be artists should value creativity - others, perhaps not so much.
I was eventually able to dig myself out of this pit I had dug for myself by finding mentors who taught me not only how to accomplish my goals, but after undertaking a thorough search about why I should focus on certain things.
Finally, don't underestimate the importance of luck and uncertainty in decision-making. Randomness plays a huge component in all manner of successes, and is almost always under-appreciated due to hindsight bias. It's all so obvious looking back, but few things are obvious looking forward.
I've dealt with chronic fatigue for several years in my life, dating back to professional school, when I was required to work absolutely brutal hours.
Disrupting my circadian rhythms, combined with the added stress of my full-time internship, took a horrific toll on my health. I put on ten pounds of fat, and woke up exhausted every day for about two years. I was convinced I'd developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I was in my mid-twenties to boot!
Eventually, after talking to my doctor, who recommended the use of Melatonin (which restored my sleep cycles and essentially cured my problem), I got my health back in order. I cut the fat, resumed a healthy lifestyle, and healed my body.
These past two months, work has been picking up again, and my health has been suffering. I've started to feel that creeping sensation of exhaustion rising bit by bit, every day, and no matter how hard I try, the demands of work are starting to break my body down. I know now from experience that my body has a very sensitive endocrine system - it just dumps cortisol into my bloodstream fairly easily, and the physical and mental grind of my profession are starting to crush me. I took the entire week off from the gym last week, which is something I almost never do, and I'm still feeling like I was hit by a bus.
Soon, this will end. At the end of the month, I will take several months off, and with the completion of my training, I won't need to put up with these inhuman demands anymore - I can tailor my work to the limitations of my body, and not the other way around.
Much has been written about managing time - how to prioritize tasks, how to complete them, and how to organize your day. But the management of your own energy is a subject that is often neglected.
This weekend I slept 14 hours in a row on two separate days. I lay in bed for 16 hours two days in a row. There were many things I could have done, but didn't, and I'm glad I didn't.
Understand when your tank is running empty. Understand when you need to do nothing. You are not a static machine - you are a biomechanical machine, a living organism.
Health first, and build from there.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis