What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
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What’s the piece of advice you treasure most? As 2020 starts, our readers and staff have been sharing theirs, from inspirational ideas to driving tips... and how to peel a banana!
Mum's advice inspired me to go cliff diving in Jamaica
"The best piece of advice I've ever received was from my mum," writes Alan Pease, the deputy principal of Suffolk New College, "She said that 'It's better to regret doing something and getting it wrong than regret doing nothing at all.
"She was trying to get me to broaden my horizons as a child and open my eyes to lots of different experiences. I have a deep fear of heights, but overcame this a few years ago when I went cliff diving at Rick's Café in Jamaica. I'd have regretted going there and not doing it, and I remember my mum's advice ringing in my ears as I jumped 30-odd feet into the sea."
"Working in education, I'm often asked to give advice to others. So, my advice is always to work hard and try and operate with integrity. If you can look in the mirror each night and say you've tried your best and treated people well, then that's all anyone can ask of you."
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Drawing Inspiration from Frozen 2
Liz Nice writes: "I have four pieces of advice that have helped me over the years.
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"The first is 'Success is happiness'. This really helped me in my 20s when I was striving all the time and never feeling like I had found my feet. It was my ex who taught me this - so thank you to him! Success wasn't about my job title, where I lived or how people saw me, it was about whether I was happy. This is a lesson I refer back to, to this day.
"The second piece of advice comes for when you aren't happy. There was a time when I felt like I lived my life to please other people, this wasn't working anyway, and I was miserable. I started seeing a counsellor and she helped me enormously with a very simple phrase. 'That is not OK.' I realised that I hadn't been able to say that to anybody who was hurting me for decades, maybe never. Now that I have learned to say it, I am able to live without feeling resentful, or taken advantage of. It is liberating! "Try it! People don't always like hearing that you find their behaviour towards you unacceptable but their reaction doesn't matter. It's about valuing yourself enough to know what treatment you expect. Once you do that, you feel stronger. And if people fall away because of it, you are better off without them. The ones that matter will stick around.
"In my 30s, I was offered a job in America. I really wanted to go but not everyone was happy about this. I stuck my neck out and decided to do it but was plagued with doubt. A colleague at the time said to me, 'When you start on a path, you always feel like there is no turning back. But you can always come back the way you came, you know.' I've used that advice many times over the years. I did come back from America and found things much the same when I returned. I had changed though, for the better, because I had had an adventure - always take the adventures offered. That would be my own advice to others.
"Finally, last week I got a new bit of advice when I watched Frozen 2 which I know I will find helpful as I navigate the current waters of my life as a single mother. Sometimes things can be difficult. Sometimes you feel very alone. But the advice of Frozen 2 will carry me through this next phase I reckon. 'Do the next right thing.'"
Getting up early enough to see the sunrise
Judy Rimmer writes: "It sounds so simple and obvious, but one top piece of advice for me, from a tutor at university, was to get up early in the morning.
"By nature, I think I'm probably a night bird, and on holiday I can find it easy to slip into a routine of having a long lie-in. But my tutor pointed out that I was missing half the day, and also suggested it is easier to get things done earlier on in the day - something I've found to be true.
"Getting up early also means I can sometimes see a beautiful Suffolk sunrise, which is inspirational in itself. Of course, my children also trained me to get up early when they were younger!
"Another piece of advice which I've found useful (I think this one was from another tutor) is to try to have something to look forward to whenever possible.
"When life gets stressful, thinking ahead to my next holiday, day out or family celebration, can help. Things I'm looking forward to in 2020 include spending more time with friends and family - I'll be meeting with old school friends at a summer reunion.
"I also hope to enjoy going for more walks in beautiful East Anglian countryside, and visiting some of the attractions I still haven't got round to, or haven't visited for a long time. It's too long since I visited King's Lynn and Castle Acre, so that's one of the visits I'm thinking ahead to in 2020, as well as trips to London and Cornwall."
What I learned from Grandad and Edmund Hillary
"I played football to a decent level growing up and people always said 'believe in yourself'," writes John Nice, who works for One Sixth Form College, Suffolk Rural, Suffolk New College and fashion brand ANNA.
"I didn't really get it at the time - you just think that 'of course I believe in myself' - but in the context of professional sport, you are always being mentally tested.
"People try to break you down to get the best out of you by suggesting you are not as good as you think. Therefore, if you keep thinking positively and believe in yourself within that context, I think you will go far.
"Other than that, my grandfather was a great one for advice. He worked his way up from the shopfloor to become managing director of a company in Bury St Edmunds, was an RAF navigator in World War II and was a massively inspirational figure. (Sadly he passed away in 2003).
"The last conversation we had, he was not very well and in hospital. I'd purchased a copy of National Geographic for him. Edmund Hilary was on the front of the magazine. Edmund Hillary was the first person to climb Mount Everest.
"Just before I left, my Grandad scanned the magazine and said, 'that chap had no right to get up that mountain, but he threw caution to the wind and made history'.
"By implying I should throw caution to the wind and try and make history myself, he truly was an inspiration to the end."
Going with the flow
Jenny Milsom, principal of One Sixth Form College in Ipswich, said: "The best advice I've been given is to 'just try to go with the flow, darling'. It was given to me by my lovely mother-in-law when my husband was diagnosed with cancer.
"She wasn't trying to minimise the situation - but she was a great believer in God and absolutely believed that her son would be looked after because he was a 'good soul'.
"She may have been right because my husband duly recovered.
"In terms of my advice, I try to live by what my mother-in-law said all those years ago, so that is the advice I would give to others. It can be hard sometimes, but it's a good mantra."
Driving lesson that I'll never forget
Paul Geater writes: "As a very young adult I was given two very valuable pieces of advice:
"When I started work at 22 after completing university, my mother said: "Sign up to the pension scheme as soon as you can. Don't wait until you're 25 or whenever they say is the cut-off point. You won't notice it, but you will when you come to retire."
"I'm not thinking of retiring anytime soon, but after celebrating my 60th birthday a few months ago I'm very pleased I took that advice!
"The other advice came from my driving instructor more than 40 years ago: "It's 10 times easier and safer to back into a parking space or garage than it is to back out of one. I've never forgotten that - and it's absolutely true!"
Erica Dean has found a similar piece of driving advice very useful over the years. She said: "Always reverse into a parking space! My dad told me this when I first started driving back in 1984.
"It was in the days before reversing sensors were the norm, and it's something I did and still do. It's so much easier to drive out of a space than to try and negotiate reversing out, especially in a crowded car park."
Checking sources - and peeling bananas
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis writes: "My dad always told me when I was doing homework as a teen never to use just one source but to research thoroughly (this was in the times when we actually used books and encyclopedias and couldn't rely on Google). I aced my coursework and exams, and continue to hear this piece of advice in my head whenever I'm working on a big project."
And finally, Jake Foxford came up with an extremely unusual suggestion. He said: "Best advice - Opening a banana from the other end. Changed my life."
Apparently this is faster and simpler than the traditional method. Who knew?