Be prepared to ignore your own advice (because eventually, you will)

By: Jonathan Guerrera In: Happiness 25 May 2013

It’s funny how we often ignore the advice we give others. For example, I’ve written about the importance of simplification, and it’s something I regularly recommend to those with a lot on their plate.

Yet, within a few months of writing that post, I’ve found myself busier than ever. This frustrated me to no end. “Way to follow your own advice, Jon,” I thought to myself, sarcastically.

At this point, I’ve come to accept that I can rarely follow my own advice as consistently as I dole it out. The classic struggle of ‘easier said than done.’ It’s important to catch yourself in these moments of disregard, so I try to be brutally honest with myself on this point. To help me with this, I periodically review a document I’ve written – I call it my constitution – and compare the advice contained within to the life I’m currently living.

In this constitution, I have brief, pithy statements of how I’d like to live my life, categorized into six headers. When I re-read my constitution two weeks ago, I was not happy. Of the six headlines below, I was only living true to three of them (those three are in bold).

  • Invest in health first.
  • Embrace opportunities to connect with people.
  • Become so good, they can’t ignore you.
  • Live a life of no regrets.
  • Have at least one passion project at all times.
  • Always look to surpass your limits.

In other words, I was so consumed with projects, learning new skills, and becoming better than I was the day before, I had started neglecting the other aspects of a life well lived (in my opinion, of course). This was contributing to that growing sense of dissatisfaction with life that we’ve all experienced at one point or another.

This time around, I took immediate action to remedy this. I took a step back from most of the projects I was working on (which required a tough conversation or two for the collaborative projects I was working on). From there, I reevaluated my priorities, which resulted in a stronger focus on my health, social life, and longer term goals. It’s been three weeks since I took action on this, and I’m already feeling happier and more balanced as a result.

As I learn to better recognize when my life is out of balance, there’s less turnaround time between dissatisfaction and improvement. Considering that our lives can shift in and out of balance sporadically, it’s important to keep this “rebalancing turnaround time” as low as possible through awareness and willingness to act quickly.

Therefore, here are some takeaways from this short post:

  • Be honest with yourself. Admit to yourself that you won’t always do what you know is best, regardless of how well you can dole this advice out to others. “Easier said than done.”
  • Put something down on paper. Maintain a document (a constitution, manifesto, mission statement, etc.) that outlines the life you want to live. Review it frequently.
  • Keep turnaround time low. When your life is out of balance, don’t be afraid to have difficult conversions and take uncomfortable actions to bring your life back into balance. Don’t wait for others to bring this balance to you. And if you can’t control this lack of balance, take any necessary steps to ameliorate the problem until you can take more substantial action.
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  • finneycanhelp

    You used the heatmap in order to recognize the imbalance or what did you use to see the imbalance?

  • http://www.livingforimprovement.com/ Jonathan Guerrera

    Yup! The heatmap was showing me that my diet and perception of life (as noted by my sore lack of meditation or any sort of relaxation) were suffering these past few months.

    It was the recent review of my constitution that really made it clear from a longer-term perspective that I was overdoing some areas, and not emphasizing others.

    Day-to-day tracking + Stepping back for a high-level overview = Clear sense of direction. :)

  • finneycanhelp

    Ah! Thanks for expanding on that. I have also not meditated for about 1 week. I shall do it today!

  • finneycanhelp

    I am meditating more now due to calm iPhone app which I learned about through gamification.co aka Ian aka Gabe Z
    calm iphone app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calm-meditation-relaxation/id571800810?mt=8



I'm Jon Guerrera, a life hacker at heart, and the man behind the scenes here at Living For Improvement. This blog documents all of my successes, failures, and lessons learned as I hack my way to happiness and fulfillment.


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