ask stranger advice help career change stuck rut

Getting Out of Your Own Head: Asking Strangers for Advice

Endless Possibilities Can Mean Too Many Possibilities


One of the hardest things to do is to objectively look at your own life and give yourself advice.  Even if you think you have the best instincts and tend to trust your gut, when faced with too many choices you can remain stuck and frozen in place. During these times, you might need a kick in the pants to get moving.

Once I had quit my job I was a little lost at sea when I looked out and realized all of the possibilities for future careers that were out there.  Whereas before I quit, my life was laid out before me quite clearly, once I left the job, I had endless opportunities.  It was both electrifying (the possibilities!) and terrifying (too many choices!).

One way I was able to begin to narrow down some choices was to reach out to people beyond my inner circle for advice. While the advice my mom gives me is the most loving and supportive I could ever ask for, I needed not only loving and supportive advice, but practical and detailed advice as well.

Turning to an Outside Voice


So who did I turn to?  Well, I never thought that if I sent a direct message on Instagram to someone famous that I would actually get a response, but that happened to me a few times.  Among those I reached out to, either for a bit of advice or simply to share how much I admired her, was Farnoosh Torabi, financial guru, author, and host of the So Money podcast, a podcast that I religiously follow.

(If you haven’t heard of her and are remotely interested in personal finance, get yourself to her website ASAP and start listening to her podcast!)

On her three-times a week show, Farnoosh often mentions that listeners can send in finance-related questions via Instagram or through her website and that she would answer them on her podcast.  Despite her saying this, I didn’t think she would actually read my question, let alone choose it to answer on the podcast.

Lo and behold, not only did she respond to me (via Instagram, and almost immediately, I might add!), but a few Fridays after I sent her the message she and a guest host read my question on her show, word for word, and gave their advice.

I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning that my question was chosen, and I listened to that podcast over and over the day it came out.  I even saved it to my phone so I could periodically listen to it whenever I needed a little boost.  In the intro to my question I gave a brief background about myself (recently resigned Biglaw attorney with a decent amount of savings stored away) and then asked a general question about what I should do with my money.

I wanted to know whether I should keep it in savings or in the stock market, given that I might need some of it in the not so distant future as I was no longer generating the same (or rather, any) income as I was as a Biglaw attorney.

But I think what I really wanted to know, if I’m being honest, is what someone I admired, like Farnoosh, thought about the fact that I’d just quit my Biglaw job with absolutely no idea what I was going to do next. Would she think I was crazy? Stupid? Lazy? All of the above?

An Encouraging Response


The details of how Farnoosh answered my money question are not important here (although she was super helpful!).  What is important is the way she made me feel.  A third party, and better yet, someone who I admired, listened to a little bit about my life, answered my money question and also told me that she believed in me and that she was interested in hearing more about my story and what I was going to be up to next.

She even said something about how I should start a blog and that she would be interested to know how my time off went, what I learned from it, and what adventures and new business ventures I would discover along the way.

I’ve come to accept that it is ok to sometimes need encouragement and praise from others in order to get you going or to keep you going. Of course it would be best if we could all just channel our inner strength and use that to move us along and accomplish all of our goals, but some of us aren’t really wired that way.

I thrive on positive feedback and that’s ok.  It doesn’t matter where the feedback comes from, if once in a while you need someone else to validate what you are doing or let you know that what you are doing sounds great, that’s ok too.  Little by little you might realize that you can give these words of encouragement to yourself and motivate yourself, but when there is a major roadblock in your way that is keeping you stuck in one place, reach out to someone else, anyone, and see if they can offer you some advice to get you back on course.

Lesson Learned


The biggest lesson I learned from reaching out to Farnoosh is that you never know what one conversation or one exchange on Instagram can do for you.  Sure, my parents and my friends had encouraged me when I had floated the idea of a blog out there, but I expected that of them.

After all, my mom was the one who used to tell me I was a wonderful artist.  It took me years to figure out that I am a below-average, at best, artist, so I do have to take some of her praise with a little grain of salt.

But Farnoosh had no skin in the game – she didn’t have a stake in what I did with my life, but she encouraged me nonetheless.  Even though she doesn’t know me, she was interested enough in my life to suggest that she’d be interested in learning  more about me and my post-Biglaw journey.

Even if you don’t think someone is going to respond to you, you’ll often be pleasantly surprised that people are more than willing to share their time, knowledge and words of encouragement.  You never know which words will be the ones that kick you into the next gear. And get you to finally start that blog. So, thanks, Farnoosh! (if you ever read this!)

Who do you have in your life who you can reach out to for real, honest advice or support? Or maybe just a little encouragement? Think outside of your normal inner circle too – with all of the technology we have, you’re not limited to only asking your friends or family anymore. Have you ever reached out to someone famous or someone who you didn’t think had the time for you, and they provided you with helpful guidance?

reach out to others for advice when stuck
Learning to Reach out to Others for advice when stuck

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Wheel of Biglaw Life 

free guide

Sign up for access to the guide and emails related to all things life in and out of Biglaw! 

thank you!

* indicates required