Monday, April 4, 2011

What is Advice?

A number of blogs and online sites, this one included, frequently give advice on how to do things. But what is advice? According to the dictionary advice is "an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.." In short, advice is a suggestion, not a rule or law. Advice is a "how-to" manual that you may choose to follow or not.

But how do you figure out whether or not advice you have received is right for you? How do you figure out whether advice you are receiving will work for you? Well, here comes a piece of advice about advice: know what it is you are asking about and asking for when you seek advice.

Let's take an area on a lot of people's minds right now--Pesach. Lots of advice out there now on how to prepare for Pesach, what to buy for Pesach, how to budget for Pesach. And yes, a lot of that advice is good advice---if it works for you. So, what goes into determining whether or not you can use advice you've received?

None of us are living identical lives. Where we live can impinge on what advice will work for us. By this I mean geographical location as well as our actual physical place of residence. Shopping for foodstuffs in the heart of Midwood Brooklyn is different from shopping in a small town in the heartland of the country. And yes, shopping in SI is also different from shopping in Brooklyn. A four-bedroom house with attic, basement and garage is different from a two-bedroom apartment in an apartment complex. And even with these examples there may be major differences--all two-bedroom apartments are not identical in size and layout and neither are all four-bedroom houses. They may have differing amounts of storage space and require different types of cleaning and shopping for Pesach.

How much "free" money do you have available? Is there one working spouse or two? What are your financial obligations? What, if any, kind of debt are you carrying? How conservative or how liberal are you when it comes to spending money, and on what kinds of items?
How much "free" time will you have to take care of all Pesach preparations? Will you have any help in the preparation, whether spouse, other family members or paid help? Is there anything going on at work that may impinge on how and when you prepare for Pesach? How big a family are you providing for? Children present? Age and sex of those kids may make a difference. Going to be having company for Pesach? What type and for how long? Will you be home all of Pesach or away for part or all? Any of your family or company have food issues or medical issues that have to be factored in? And just how old are you? What a 20-year old can possibly accomplish may not be what a 50/60-year old can accomplish as regards sheer physical strength, stamina or just plain get-up-and-go.

And the above may only be the tip of the iceberg as regards personal factors that make us "different" from others. In short, there's a lot more to advice than it's inherent "goodness" or "badness." What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. The key is to be honest with yourself about what your personal situation is, what all the factors are that have to be taken into consideration, and take or not take advice based on your unique position. No need to be upset if you find you can't use what you think may be a good piece of advice--if you can't use it it isn't good advice for you.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

It's one thing when you ask for advice or go looking for it. But what's with all the people who insist on giving you advice when you didn't ask them for any, don't want it from them and then get into an argument with you when you ignore it or say no thank you?