Why can't we follow our own advice?

How many times have you shaken your head when someone asked you 'What should I do?' and given them an answer you thought was quite obvious? The right thing to do always seems apparent when the choice belongs to someone else. But when it comes to one's own life, the consequences of choices become alarmingly unclear.
But what if you could counsel yourself the same way that you help others out? Wouldn't it help you make faster and more accurate decisions? What if you could always give yourself the right advice without having to ask someone else?
Why it's easier to advise others
  • You can look at the situation objectively
  • You have no personal stake in the situation
  • You are not afraid of the consequences of making the right choice
  • You are unemotional about the sacrifices that might have to be made in order to opt for the best course of action
  • You draw from similar experiences in your own past
In our lives, we're constantly confronted by multiple options. And the possibility of missing out on something valuable in the process of taking a decision can be really worrying. There are also times when the complexity of a problem confuses us. We see no way out. But when something like that happens, do this - imagine that it's happening to someone else.
Let's take an example - perhaps, you are currently in a comfortable and reasonably rewarding job and you're only a passive job seeker. Along comes an offer that is everything you once dreamt of. The only catch is - it's at a nascent organisation that has potential but is nowhere close to your current organisation in stature. What should you do? Chances are, you'll be confused. You might feel attached to your current job. The prospect of working in a smaller organisation might scare you. Now, ask yourself what you'd advise a friend in a similar situation. Use this guide to do so:
Perform an objective analysis: List the pros and cons of both choices without being biased. What will you gain and lose in either scenario - if you take up the job and if you don't?
Take a critical look at the consequences: Of the things that you stand to gain and lose, which ones matter the most? Are you willing to compromise on them? More importantly, should you (or your hypothetical friend) be willing to comprise on them?
Put yourself in the future. Five years down the line, would you be comfortable with the choice you made? Do you see yourself making a quick ascent if you take up the new job offer? Or do you see yourself still feeling as rewarded and satisfied as you do now in your current job?
Think about similar crossroads in your own past or in the life of someone you know. Were you confronted with a similar problem in the past? What did you do then and was it the right choice? Or think about stories other people may have told you. There's a lot we can learn from others' experiences, provided we view them in the right context.
Final thoughts
Whether it's a professional or a personal crisis, the amount of information we encounter everyday ensures that we know the right thing to do in most cases. It's more a question of being unafraid and confident enough to follow your own advice. You don't really need confirmation from anyone else, although there is no harm in asking for it.
(This post was originally published on LinkedIn)


  1. This is a fair question Ankita, I guess it is a lot easier for us to look at a situation more objectively when we are not engulfed in the set of emotions that associate the situation. But when we are shrouded by the same in our own lives, it does tend to take a different route altogether. Nicely put :)