5 reasons not to take advice from the Internet

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5 reasons not to take advice from the Internet & How to be comfortable to succeed or fail on your own terms

The amazing thing about the Internet is that you can locate advice on any topic, in no time flat. In fact you can find so much information that confusion results in you taking no action at all. You know you need to do something, you just can’t tell what this should be.

Some examples I’ve experienced over the years:

  • figure competitions: for a short while I considered the possibility of competing in figure competitions. The Internet told me it would make me strong and resilient, and able to face any challenge life hurled at me. At the same time I was told I’d wreck my metabolism to the point it might never recover. Did I want both of these things?
  • Crossfit: while I have great admiration for people who Crossfit, I have never participated myself. I could never resolve the conflict between the risk that it might break me, or make you one of the fittest people of Earth. Shouldn’t there be something in between that will set me up to be fit and strong my entire life?
  • carbohydrates: with these little fellas you’re either lectured on their evils and told to avoid them at all costs, or you’re told if you don’t eat carbohydrates you should be prepared not to function as a sane human being.
  • intermittent fasting: by changing my diet pattern with IF am I just restricting calories for the best way to lose weight? Maybe the advice that my body will behave differently and better with IF is true. Or maybe it’s just another way to wreck my metabolism. And if you decide it’s for you, you’ve then got to take more advice of which variation of IF you’ll follow.

What to do in these situations? Whose advice do you take?

There are many benefits in listening to advice when you need to make decisions. By taking advice you may even save money, time and effort. But there’s always one further alternative to any list of options you can draw up that reduces the risk that you’ll do nothing at all.

And it’s a really simple one.

Try it for yourself and then decide.

Why you should try things for yourself

Spare a moment to think about why the Internet has so much advice freely available to you. Some of the reasons you think of might not be in your best interests.

Information on the Internet is often wrong. If there’s two sides presented as being correct, and these are vastly different, they can’t both be right. Sometimes information is just aimed to scare you into doing or not doing something, or holding a personal position on a particular topic. And at other times you’ll realise people are just trying to make a buck out of you, and will try to do it any way they can.

The reasons to move from inaction to action, and just try things for yourself are worth it:

  • regret sucks: if you don’t try new things, you run the risk of wondering down the track what might have been. I always regretted not taking the opportunity to skydive a few years ago. So when the opportunity arose earlier this year to step off The Stratosphere in Las Vegas, I literally jumped at the chance. I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. You can’t regret what you choose to have a go at.
  • risk has benefits: there are benefits to taking a risk every now and again, and just seeing what happens. I’m not talking about whether you can transition quickly from no training experience to YouTubing yourself parkouring across rooftops, or participating in the Crossfit Games. But if you don’t take risks, you’ll never stretch yourself. You’ll miss the opportunity to increase the faith you have in yourself. Stepping out of your comfort zone is good for you.
  • why deny a possible joy?: the thing you’ve decided not to take action on might have brought even more joy to your already full and fabulous life. Why would you ever pass on that opportunity?
  • learn for yourself: the benefits of lifelong learning are well-researched and documented. When you commit to learning you increase your wisdom, your ability to adapt to change, and you bring more meaning to your life.
  • it’s too easy to be negative: what’s wrong with thinking you can do new things, acquire new skills, and just have more fun?

How to use advice to decide for yourself

When you commit to action and have a willingness to try things for yourself, you’ve put yourself in a great position. You have the mindset to use advice if you:

  • decide what knowledge you need: go for well-researched and reputable advice, and invest in yourself. If you want to learn the Olympic lifts you’ll probably read that these are complex moves. You might realise that you need someone other than YouTube to teach you how to do this well. Correcting poor form later in a lifting career is bloody hard. Do it right from the start.
  • decide if there’s anything about you that says you shouldn’t: you know you better than anyone else does. You know if your shoulder or hip flexors are going to give you hell by doing certain movements. The Internet does not know that when it recommends a 28-day program of squats, your spine is stacked in a way that will not respond well.
  • do it for yourself, not for someone else: whatever you do needs to align with your values and beliefs. And be aware that ‘Do it for yourself’ is not the same as ‘Do it by yourself’.
  • keep an eye out for confirmation bias: we are all prone to sometimes interpret information in a way that confirms our preconceptions. Instead we benefit more when we’re open to other points of view and new possibilities.

Any action or inaction you take should be your decision based on reliable evidence and your sound decision making.

Don’t buy into the possibility of inaction due to conflicting advice.

Last words – Yes, I did realise I’m providing advice on how to not take advice. But I went ahead and did it anyway.

 

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