Critical Adaptation of Advice
don't take medicine which isn't for you

As I read more books and take in information and advice from all sorts of people, I realize the great importance of knowing whether or not the advice that people give are even applicable to yourself.

Simply put: advice is information given by an individual whose faults are compensated by said advice. Whether or not the advice is applicable is often up to the people intaking it.

It's sort of like taking medicine for a particular illness. If I have say illness A, I should be skeptical of another person who has illness B and advises everyone to take a pill that cures only illness B; a pill which will do absolutely nothing to cure my own illness, nor other people who have different ailments. The same thing really applies to advice: I shouldn't take other people's advice at face value because their advice is compensating for their own weakness. Now, whether or not I share the same weaknesses as that person is up to me to figure out.

The thing is that a lot of people don't even do this introspective stage where they figure out whether the advice is applicable to them or not. I didn't start doing this until I realized that a lot of productivity systems that I've tried out rarely, if ever, work because my brain has a completely different structure compared to other people.

For example, Cal Newport had a productivity system called time-blocking, where he would schedule his entire day by blocking out every single hour for different tasks. Now that worked great for him, but it certainly didn't work for me. In fact, the complete polar opposite worked for me.

What I essentially do is set a few general stopping points: when I start working, when I end my work, and when I start doing personal recreational activities. Everything else in between is decided by a mind map which I had adapted into a to-do list, and that's it. I'm fine working on things until I'm satisfied and ordering my plan of attack as I went along.

When I tried doing time-blocking, I went absolutely insane. It literally felt like my soul was being choked out of my body trying to adhere to such a rigid structure, so oftentimes what would happen when I failed by even a minute is that I'd just straight up give up. The whole day was ruined, despite the fact that I could just change the schedule if things didn't look up. I'd just succumb to some sort of vice that would occupy the rest of the day. Now that's the complete opposite of productivity if I do say so myself.

In this particular case, I work optimally with as little structure as humanly possible. Not to the point where it's the literal embodiment of chaos, but just enough that I'm still able to make some headway as to what to do. For others, maybe time-blocking is the absolute best because structure plays a crucial part in how they work, and that's fine too.

The point of all of this is to say that if the advice that other people give for you doesn't work, it's because the advice doesn't work for you personally, not because you're a broken individual. It's just not a compatible match. This is the same conclusion that I had reached in this article, except I catered to artists in that particular article.

The problem is that people who give advice often don't say that it isn't applicable to everyone; they stubbornly cling to it thinking that it applies to everybody, when in fact it may not even apply to a large majority of people. There are rare cases where advice applies to practically everyone, but those cases are typically those which are common to every person (exercise, eating healthy, sleep, etc.), but it's rare to find globally applicable advice in terms of mindset, productivity systems, and the like.

All in all, it's very important to critically think about the advice that other people give. If it's not obvious that it's applicable to you or not, experiment with it. Sometimes you can adapt it to fit your own purposes, which is often what happens and is the best case scenario; or it's just straight up not applicable to you, in which case just discard it entirely. It's better to discard advice which isn't applicable to you rather than trying to force it and going down the entirely wrong path to self-destruction.

Every person has their own sicknesses that they're battling. Don't take medicine which isn't for you just because people say that it worked for them.

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