You’ve read this kind of post: The 8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8am Every Day.
As you read, you become inspired. You make a list of the eight things to do in the morning. Perhaps you set a goal to do all of them every day for the next month.
Maybe you even follow through on your goal, incorporating these eight things into your morning routine.
In the best case, you share a similar personality, temperament, and set of needs as the person who wrote it. The advice worked so well for you that you share the post with everyone you know, encouraging them to try it.
People are open to it because what if, just this one time, this article is the one that changes everything? So it gets shared around and around, with no eye to the damage it leaves behind in its wake. No consideration for all of the people left feeling inadequate or broken or like they’re not good enough because it didn’t work for them.
What’s wrong with those people?
The dirty little secret is this: There are no universal eight things that will change everyone’s life. The very premise of that concept is a falsehood perpetuated by the viral nature of the internet. But the internet has everything to gain by you thinking you have a problem.
Next time you read an opinion piece or an advice article, remember this: no two people are exactly the same. What worked for me might not work for you.
The only universal truth is that the advice might not work for you. You might need something different. That does not mean there is anything wrong with you.
Instead, it means that every piece of advice you receive should run through a few filters:
- Based on my past experience, does this seem like something that could work for me?
- Am I the kind of person who benefits from suggestions like this?
- If I follow this advice, will it reflect my values and beliefs as a human?
Every piece of advice you receive is really just a hypothesis to test. Will it work for you? Only you can know.
Dogma is dangerous. Do what works for you. And then share what you learn as a case study, not an imperative.
On average, the people who share their advice the most reflect just a small subset of the human experience. There’s nothing wrong with being different.