Filtering Advice

When heading down a new path there comes both solicited and unsolicited advice. It can be difficult, with so much information being thrown at you, to know which to heed and which to ignore. It’s not that the “ignored” advice is bad, it is just that it isn’t best for you. When I graduated from Athabasca University I was left with a decision: what step do I take next? I had been so focused on getting to the end I hadn’t allowed myself much time to consider what would come next, what would be that next step needed to take to achieve what I worked so hard for to get this far?

With this looming decision, I solicited lots of advice, I reached out to professors in my field of interest and asked them questions about what might be the best choice for me. I reached out to family and friends and discussed my choices. I also had plenty of unsolicited advice, suggestions, and nudges. Everything mentioned had merit.

But, as the opinions rolled in, the water became muddier and muddier. I was losing a sense of what I was wanting to get out of it?what I was even thinking about this for. While it is important to be well-informed to make the choice, it can be easy to lose sight of the end goal. What I ended up doing was?literally?writing down my end goal. From there I made a list of all the suggested paths and I looked at my end goal and compared it with the list, asking “Will this path get me here?” Some of the advice would have, yes, some in a round-about way, maybe. And some of these paths I was interested in for other reasons. But those that didn’t contribute now to that first end goal I decided to move to another list, a possible “future” list.

When faced with these choices It’s important to keep the water as clear as possible, it is hard to know which way to go without confusing it more with other options. Once you have your choices narrowed down into two groups, “future” and “now”, comes the more difficult part?which one of the “now” choices is the one to take.

There isn’t really a wrong choice here, usually. This is the point where you should solicit advice from others within the industry. What path did they take, which would they recommend, what are the pros and cons that they’re aware of? They may be able to confirm some of the things you’ve found while doing your own research?or debunk some myths you have read. Research is important and making sure you are as well-informed as possible.

Once you have gathered your information on the narrowed down list of choices, confirm again that you are keeping true to the end goal. And then go with what feels the best to you. If that choice doesn’t work the way you intended it isn’t impossible to turn around and take another path. Whatever path you take, whether it leads directly to the end goal or leaves you back-tracking, either way, you will be learning about your desired profession and setting yourself up for success.

Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature. Follow her path on the writing journey at

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