Five Pieces of Advice I’ll Always Remember

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These days everyone seems to have an opinion on how you should live your life along with oodles of advice to accompany it.  Wading through this advice to find the useful nuggets can be a struggle, and often times you may not realize how pertinent that advice is until you need it.  Here are five bits of advice that I have adopted over the years:

“Always bring a notebook.”: This was one of the first recommendations I was given at my first accounting job out of college, and it’s advice that will always benefit you.  I’ve been in several situations where I wished I had something to jot notes down on, but I’ve never regretted bringing a notebook with me.  At work it’s great for taking down instructions for your next assignment or summarizing the tasks that came out of your last meeting.  At home it’s great for keeping track of what groceries you need or writing down an idea that you otherwise would have forgotten.  I’m also pretty sure that this has spurred my obsession with collecting fancy notebooks… Hey, we all have our vices, right?

“Focus on the things you can control.”:  This is great advice that’s incredibly hard to apply.  I tend to stress about everything when I would be much better off only stressing about the things I can control, because the rest is just a wasted effort.  It’s important to think about the big picture, but losing sleep over the possibility that something may or may not happen despite your inability to control it is hard to justify, but even harder to prevent.  I’d venture to guess that most of us remind ourselves of this advice daily and hope to do a better job living up to it’s words.

“Do your job!”: This was my dad’s favorite phrase as a manager at his office.  It seems so simple, but the more time I spend working the more I see where he was coming from.  It is inevitable that you will be constantly frustrated with your co-workers for not performing the simplest of tasks required to just fulfill their basic duties at work.  Sometimes a reminder to do your job is all that’s needed.  Either way it’s confirmation that your frustrations are felt worldwide and are completely legitimate.

“Never try to change someone.”: This may have been the best dating advice my mother ever gave me.  While I can’t say I always remembered it, it’s proven to be true over and over again.  While I do believe people can grow and change, I think that growth needs to come from within.  Trying to change someone is not only disrespectful – why should you know what’s best for them – but it’s also a losing battle that can lead to resentment.  If you meet someone you think you would want to date, but there are dealbreakers, walk away.  You’ll be saving everyone a lot of trouble.

“You can’t polish a turd.”: This is by far my favorite bit of advice.  My father used to remind me of this daily, though I’m not sure if it originated with him.  The gist is that no matter how badly you want to make something better, sometimes you just have to cut your losses and start again.  This can apply to almost anything; projects at work, relationships, yard sale finds.  Next time you’re struggling to get through a project ask yourself if you’re fighting a losing battle.  If so it may be time to stop polishing that turd and move on.

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