Getting Advice: What To Ask For

Amy Vaughn

Writer & Blogger

We all face big decisions throughout our lifetime. Sometimes the choice is clear, but what do you do when it isn’t so obvious? Getting advice from the right kind of person is only part of the equation. The other part is knowing what to ask for and what questions to avoid. This last installment of the series tackles that dilemma.

What to ask for when getting advice: 

  • Sometimes we just want someone to tell us what to do because making the decision for ourselves means we have to slow down, gather more information and weigh the cost-benefits more carefully. It’s hard to do this when we just want an answer. Oftentimes, we feel restless. We feel overwhelmed. We are stressed and eager to get out of our current situation.

  • Once you have found a trusted person, let them know what you are asking for. You may just want a sounding board and that is the extent of it. That is fine. 

  • You may ask them to delve into the possible risks and rewards of the potential outcomes. You may ask them to consider other options you have not thought of. Be specific about what you are asking for so they understand and can stay in the scope of what you are looking for.  

  • Consider asking questions like: 

    • What are my blindspots? 

    • Are there other possible scenarios or solutions that I have not considered?

    • Are there things that I have not considered yet, that could change my perspective?  

    • What other questions should I be asking? 

    • What other research should I be doing to help me make a decision? 

  • Avoid asking questions like: 

    • What should I do? (It’s impossible to know what one should do and it is putting someone in an impossible situation to give you an answer). 

    • What would you do? (Again, this gets dicey because you are not that person and that person is not you). 

    • What is the best/worst decision? (Again, how could any of us know what is “the best” or “the worst”? If you have the mindset that you can make any decision work for you, then there is no “best” or “worst”, there are just decisions with different outcomes. Not only that, but with this mindset instilled in your belief system, you can be at peace about making a decision, rather than being stressed, frustrated, uptight, etc). 

The bottom line is this: Trust yourself. Listen to what your intuition is telling you and follow the crumb trail. Your gut is leading the way. Do the work-yes, the hard work, of gathering enough information to make a decision. Do the hard work to sit with yourself, write, journal, cry, feel any and all feelings…and then, if you still feel that you need another perspective, go for it.  

In the end, it is still your decision. You get to make it. You get to own it. You have it within you to live with any outcome and make something happen from it. Own your decision so that the fear of making a decision doesn’t own you. 

You are so worth it. 

Note: Making big decisions is rarely cut-and-dry. It gets more complicated when those big decisions involve other people (spouses, partners, significant others, children, etc) and those decisions will likely need to be made as a couple or family through back and forth dialogue and will likely involve both complexities and compromise. This blog is not about how to communicate and compromise with others. 

What questions would you want me to cover, if I extended the topic of making big decisions with others who would be affected by those decisions? Let me know–I would love to hear from you!

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