August 27

A Framework for Taking Advice

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A Framework for Taking Advice

Cheap advice is everywhere.

And if you go googling about it, you’ll find dozens of articles explaining complicated theories on how to take advice and from who.

In the following, I’ll explain what has worked for me, especially when it comes to figuring out what to experiment with on the health side of things. But this works in any area.

It’s a blurry world out there, with all the celebrity worshipping and millions of companies fighting for your attention with advertisements masqueraded as advice. Everyone has a prescription to offer. Add to this the fact that taking advice also happens subconsciously, and that we never spend time thinking about something as trivial as this, and we have a mess at our hands.

Too. Much. Advice. Everywhere.

And that’s the issue.

Having a filter to keep away unwanted advice from your world can make all the difference.

A framework for filtering advice

Let’s simplify:

  1. Introspect to understand yourself
  2. Write down all the advice that feels right immediately in your gut
  3. Revisit your notes one week after
  4. Rewrite the bits that still feel promising
  5. Experiment with the advice
  6. Analyse your results like a proper scientist
  7. Integrate/discard

Introspect

I love this tweet by Mr. Huberman:

Understand what kind of advice-taker you are.

Do you need everything to be backed by science? Is it enough that your favourite anon-Twitter handle suggested it? Do you blindly believe everything?

It helps to look at your own past critically. Which advice have you followed and with what results? Based on this, what kind of advice you want to take in the future?

When you answer both of those questions, you will be much better at ignoring some of the noise presented to us by the world dominated by marketing campaigns and lies around us.

Capture and wait

Second, you want to start noting down advice and reflecting on it a bit later before taking action. This is exactly because of the marketing geniuses who know all too well how to pull our emotional levers.

Write. It. Down. And. Wait.

Wait for a week. Then revisit the path you wanted to follow, and if it still feels the right thing to do… Great! Go for it!

Rewrite it in your own words into something actionable, and go for it!

Track

Figure out what exactly you are trying to achieve so that it can be measured.

Yes, in numbers.

But here’s the good news: Even subjective things can be measured. How happy are you, on a scale from 1 to 7?

Just have a number to track periodically, i.e. daily/weekly/monthly.

And over time, see where you’re going with it.

Keep it or leave it

Too obvious, but many fail to do it.

There are people who have been following the same diet, in an effort to lose weight, for years. Without losing a single pound.

Why?

Because they fail to obey the numbers.

If something is not working, ditch it mercilessly and try something else.

That’s what it is to be a scientist. You experiment with things until you discover what works.

And you do that by observing numbers. Not feelings. Not wishes.

If it hasn’t worked so far, trust me, it’s not going to work in the future either.

So change the course. Find new advice to try.

Rinse and repeat

And so the loop continues, neverending.

You integrate what works, ditch what doesn’t, and never end experimenting with life.

For life in itself is a marvellous experiment and nothing more.


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Simo Hosio

I'm a computer scientist (Ph.D.) at the University of Oulu in Finland, where I serve as an Associate Professor and lead the Crowd Computing research group. I am currently visiting the University of Tokyo in Japan.

And I run Kaizen Hour.


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