As we grow into adulthood, there comes a point where we may realize that some our parents’ advice stems from an outdated model of the world. The career path or life script they followed 30+ years ago often won’t lead to success today. Though well-intentioned, their guidance can sometimes steer us wrong.
This happens because the world changes faster than parental model of the world. Technology, culture, the economy—all evolve rapidly. What made them successful back in the day may not apply today. To achieve success now, you need your own map of how the world works today.
Of course, not all parental advice should be discarded. There are still virtues in stability, prudence and risk management. The key is distinguishing stability from stagnation. Stability provides a solid foundation to build upon. But stagnation is merely standing still rather than progressing. Your parents may encourage stability to minimize volatility and uncertainty. But taken too far, that becomes stagnation - getting stuck in a comfort zone and never reaching your potential. Stability creates safety to take risks from. Stagnation stifles the risks needed to grow and advance.
Rather than relying entirely on parental conventional wisdom, study the principles behind how the world really works. Read widely across fields like physics, biology, game theory, microeconomics and psycology. Those disciplines offer mental models for evaluating ideas and opportunities. You need not master every subject. Just grasp the fundamentals. One good book on each provides most of the basics. While a significant time investment, those foundations pay compounding dividends by training your thinking.
Armed with fundamental knowledge, you can weigh options and risks for yourself. Apply timeless principles to analyze each situation rather than following one-size-fits-all parental advice. You will still make some mistakes, but they’ll be your own. Forging your own path beats following the potentially obsolete roadmaps of well-meaning parents. By grounding yourself in foundational disciplines, you gain the cognitive tools to map out your own route.
I wrote this as a note to myself as a new parent who’s eager to pass on my life learnings to my children. I hope to remember that my advice will be based on my experience, which may not apply to the world my children will grow up in.