Monday, May 25, 2009

Bad Advice

When you are growing up, people who have already been there, done that, are inclined to dole out advice to give you a heads up about what you are facing. Because most of it comes from hard and bitter experience, I’m inclined to give the doler-outer the benefit of the doubt and accept that the advice is probably good. At lease until proven otherwise. Occasionally, one gets advice that is dubious in both intent and content, and sadly, it’s not until you have a bit of your own hard and bitter experience that you can tell the difference. Among the bad bits I have gotten are:

  • Relationships are hard. Actually, no, they are not. BAD relationships are hard. Good relationships, whether it be friends, families or romantic entanglements, hum along quite nicely if the participants are suited to one another and are invested in making the relationship work. There is very little point in working on a bad relationship. Because it is bad.

  • Give the client something new every time. Once I got this piece of advice from another, more experienced hairdresser, and, because I am a very slow learner, it took me ages to figure out that this was not really good advice at all. Lots and lots of clients want their hair trimmed; same style only shorter. End of story. When a client asks for a “trim”, give it to them, rather than working yourself and them into a lather trying to work in something new.

  • Who needs a second language? I foolishly dropped French in university, because the classes were at 8:30 and there were two labs in a week. How stupid was I? Instead of going to an academic counselor to see if I could change it, I instead asked my friends, who came up with that gem. And I BELIEVED THEM.

  • You can sleep when you’re dead. Spending every Christmas for about 6 years flat out on the couch heaving and groaning and wishing I were dead because I was sick as a dog had taught me that when I burn the candle at both ends, I pay dearly for it. I will get sick if I don’t get my sleep, and no amount of wishing it were otherwise will change that.

  • Just get 2000 together and we can start investing for your retirement. If I had known then what I know now, I would have started investing teeny-tiny amounts in my retirement and taking advantage of compound interest years ago. Instead, I had a financial genius tell me this bit of advice when I was making minimum wage and still living at home. $2000 may as well have been 2 million dollars for all the spare change I had in my pocket. I wish I had known that I could have started with 10 bucks. Maybe I’d be retired by now.

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