People are going to tell you what you should and should not do in order to be successful in your career. This will happen in year one, year five, and year twenty-five; it’s just how humans are wired.
When people offer advice, they are really saying: “These are the things that matter to me. These are the things I do, or that I at least want to do, which make me feel good and right and seem to make my world a better place.”
It’s helpful to listen to what people say about what has worked and hasn’t worked for them, and it’s helpful to keep an open mind. But at each step along the way, it is essential to remember that no one has ever walked the exact road you are on, and no one has exactly the same interests, values, skills, and perspectives that you do.
This could be inspiring or it could be a bitter pill to swallow. It might even be both at the same time. Because on the one hand, nobody will ever be able to tell you how to get to exactly where you want to go in life. But you also have complete freedom to pick the path that works best for you.
What works for me is to go digging for the stories behind advice. If someone says “Human skills matter more than tech skills” — well, how did they get there? And if someone else says the opposite, what was different about the path they took?
Once you know a bit about the experiences that lead someone to adopt a particular view, it is easier to figure out what to take away from the advice they’re offering.
But in the end, you always choose. And the choices you make create YOUR story.