Why Asking for Guidance Usually Leaves You Off Worse than Before

Rotting Maritime

Often I ask those people I respect for advice – life advice in particular.  My questions pertain to the future, and what they believe is the best way I go about it.  When doing so, I believe that I’m seeking guidance.  But that’s not true – I’m seeking instruction.

I’m one among millions.  Millions who everyday ask someone else to decide for him or her what’s meaningful.  Each time giving sovereignty to the belief that those persons considered successful know what’s best for me – better than myself.  And in those moments – I’ve come to realize – I’m a coward.

It’s fear and a lack of confidence.  That’s what encourages me to ask for “guidance”.  For when we don’t have a direction of our own and are not strong enough to commit to personal goals we try to escape – and remove ourselves from those decisions most meaningful in life.  Hoping that we will then avoid the freedom and responsibility of choice.

I’ve written before that, “I purposefully avoid any situation in which someone else would be doing my thinking for me.”  And it’s a motto that I intend to live by.  Embarrassingly though, I’ve engaged in many situations that I didn’t recognize as passive – and I’m likely to engage in more.

There are reasons that help explain this.  And ones I find more valuable than others.  Being at a time in my life where goals are the hottest topic, the reason I do find most relatable pertains to goals themselves.

Our generation’s perception of a meaningful goal is solely concerned with the goal itself.  “I want to be a millionaire by 24”, “I want to be an investment banker in Manhattan”, “I want to be famous”.  Though such aspirations are stereotypical, they are very common.  And by no means do I believe that these are bad!

However, for a generation known to be so selfish and “all about me” minded, we rarely ever take the time to learn about ourselves.  But rather pursue goals that we believe we must change ourselves to achieve – instead of adapting the goal to accommodate us.

Goals come second, I believe – second to ones sense of self.  And the reason is a very simple one.  If you are unsure of who you are as a person, how can you decide or recognize what’s meaningful to you?  There is a simple answer.  You can’t.

If you do not know who you are as a person, you cannot understand what is meaningful to you.  And as a result, setting your own goals seems empty and meaningless.  Making it feel ever so convenient to commit to the popular goals in society – the whole time, becoming even more detached from yourself.

Guidance and wisdom is very important receive life.  Never would I suggest to ignore it.  However, only ever seek it to assist you in achieving a goal you’ve decided for yourself, and not to set that goal for you.

– Sepp

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