I Didn’t Need No Stinking Advice

What I mean is: I probably wouldn’t have followed it anyway

By Jeff Salter

This week, we’re blogging about advice — what advice do we wish we’d been given when we were younger?

As I mentioned to the Monday Fox, when I was (a lot) younger, I was loathe to take advice, no matter how sound. I was pretty much determined to do things my way – whenever possible – whether or not it blew up in my face.

Not sure if that’s a “guy” thing or a “teen” thing… or just a “Jeff” thing.


But here’s some advice that I wish I had FOLLOWED:

Stay in Church

For 3.5 years in the Air Force and (later) one year during grad school, I just wouldn’t / couldn’t get myself to church. I rationalized it by convincing myself that I wouldn’t be in that town long enough to form any real relationships, so why bother. And it’s true I lived in four different places (NM, Greenland, CA, & LA) during those 4.5 years. [Note: for the 3 years after the Air Force, we were back in our home church, and for 2.5 years after grad school, we lived in a small community — but we were quite active in both of those churches… even though both periods were relatively short.] When I look back to those years I stayed away, I regret the worship and fellowship that I missed. My advice: stay in church – no matter WHERE you are – and don’t fret about whether you’ll be there for months or years.

Don’t waste your college years

I’m ashamed to admit that I pretty much wasted most of the two college years between mid 1968 and mid 1970. At that point, lots of boys stayed in college to avoid the military draft — until those student deferments were dropped and all able-bodied boys were tossed into the lottery system. My point is that I got next to nothing out of those classes and wasted not only my time, but that of certain professors. [Now, it’s true that I began my freshman year at age 17.5 and during my sophomore year I was working part-time, but that’s still no excuse for frittering away the college classes.] My advice? Don’t do that. If you’re in college for any reason other than to learn… just quit faking college and get a job. Don’t rack up all that student debt just because a lot of other kids do it. When you’ve matured a bit (after being in the “real” world for a while) maybe you’ll wish to return to college and actually be hungry to learn. That’s what happened to me. After my Air Force hitch, I returned to college and really invested myself in it. Even made the Dean’s List a few times.

Save credit cards for emergencies

This one actually applies to a period somewhat later in my life, because until I was 30-something I really didn’t have any REAL credit cards to speak of. [One from a furniture store, but it was only good at that store. One from a gasoline company, but the town we lived in didn’t have any of their stations.] But after we started getting a few cards, we fell into that trap of spending now and paying later. In terms of our overall financial health, things were a lot better when we saved first and bought [whatever it was that was needed] after we’d saved up the money. My advice: don’t finance optional purchases.

Be kinder and more sympathetic

I regret to say that in my younger years, I had little patience or sympathy for people adversely affected by age or infirmity. It took becoming infirmed myself for me to be patient and empathetic toward those who were thus challenged. It took enduring my own aging process for me to be understanding toward the aged. My advice: one day you may be in the circumstances that you’re so impatient about right now… so be patient with those folks.

Don’t purchase stuff you don’t actually need

This is a toughie, because “our eyes are bigger than our stomachs” — to borrow a phrase from my generation’s grandmothers (as when we were competing for portions of dessert). In the retail world, companies pay other companies to advertise their products with such zeal and effectiveness that you’ll want them even though you don’t need them. And you’ll probably acquire many of them. And you’ll eventually have to pay for them — even if you never needed them to begin with… and possibly will never actually use them. My advice: Ask yourself if you need it or merely want it. [Except for very special occasions / purposes] if you don’t need it… don’t get it.

Get rid of stuff you don’t actually use

I know – and admire – people who regularly go through their closets and donate clothes they no longer wear (for whatever reason – fashion, fit, age, whatever). I can’t do that. And I envy those folks who can keep their homes free of clutter because they regularly clear it out and recycle or discard it. I can’t do that either. Unfortunately, I was born with that hoarding gene – from the generation which survived the Great Depression – which dictates: “you’d better hold on to that, because you might need it someday and there’s no need to buy it twice.” My advice here is: even if you ever DO actually need that whatever (at some point in the future), there’s a 95% chance you’ll never find it. Get rid of it. Now.

Eat healthier and exercise more

This one should speak for itself as we look at the newest generation and see the rising rate of overweight kids and health problems in young adults with too much weight. I was in pretty durn good physical shape when I exited Air Force Basic Training. But somewhere along the way, I stopped doing a lot of the outdoor recreational things and eventually became a couch potato. [There are other medical issues involved me becoming so sedentary, but – for this column – suffice it to say, my lack of purposeful exercise exacerbated those other problems.] As you leave high school, you will probably be in the best shape you’ll ever be in… unless you are purposeful and diligent about getting regular exercise and watching your nutrition. [Another way to say it: “it’s all downhill from there.”] My advice: don’t let your health slide… because it’s a lot more work to regain it than it is to keep it to begin with.

So that’s my sermon for this topic about advice. Now, if I can just follow my own advice, things should be hunky dory. 


What advice would YOU give to your younger self?

[JLS # 375]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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16 Responses to I Didn’t Need No Stinking Advice

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Great topic and great advice, some of which I adhere to.
    My advice for my younger self: make better choices when it comes to relationships. That would be for friends, boyfriends, and family. Don’t waste time and energy on relationships that are not fulfilling or enriching. People come into our lives for reasons. For better or worse, we learn from each of them. But we don’t have to allow toxic relationships to poison our water. On the flip side, good relationships need nurturing, so we should not take them for granted.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Great advice. I went through a period of credit card overuse as well, soon after my first full-time job. It’s so easy to fall into that trap! I’m slowly working on de-cluttering, but it’s an agonizing process, especially since I’m helping mom downsize. For now I have to be aware that every time I bring something new into the house, something old has to leave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      I think that’s a healthy approach — one in and one out — though (in practice) difficult to accomplish. I’ve always had the notion (perhaps self-deluded) that if I had two eager and patient helpers — one to load and haul (to recycling, to Goodwill, to dump, wherever) and one to help me sort and stack and clear — that I could knock out my garage in one long day or two weekend partial days.
      Alas, where does one find two eager and patient helpers (who can drive)?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ted Talley says:

    Your list sums it up for me, Jeff. I guess because of the same era and small-town background. I would endorse “carpe diem” as it comes to college years. Any college or university, regardless of size, rank or fame has dozens, if not hundreds, of opportunities for enrichment beyond the classroom and the check-off list for getting a degree. Concerts, plays, sporting events of course, lectures from guest speakers of note in their various fields. And they are often free or very low cost. At least one of my children became involved in such in college beyond the core studies. My freshman and sophomore years I auditioned and got two small parts in university theater productions. Of course writing for the campus newspaper thrust me into events. But there is so much there for any student on most any campus.

    When for a while I was dating my college sweetheart 35 years after graduation we met in the old college town. We went here, there around the town and campus as I recalled memories and good times. She knew of only about half of what I was speaking. She said I feel like you and I attending two completely different schools. Not bragging. Just saying young people should take advantage of the experience. It won’t be replayed. And as an aside—when I was a freshman an upperclassmen told me to enjoy the view while I was there. No where else in my future life, he advised, will I ever see so many very lovely women than there on that campus. He was right!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      several excellent points, Ted, about the cultural aspects of college life. And, to be sure, I did avail myself of those, including some of the great bands of the time and prominent lecturers like Alex Haley (before he was famous). And, like you, I also worked on the college paper (in my freshman year).
      My main point — which I glossed over — was that (UN-like you) I didn’t take my academics seriously. Specifically, I skipped classes, didn’t study for tests, did half-hearted work on papers, and (later in my soph. year) even didn’t show up for some of the final exams.
      THAT’s what I meant by “wasting” the college time.


      • Ted Talley says:

        Oh. I understand now. Well, I did attend classes. I have no idea, though, how I passed Physics 101. I think I made a B in it and can’t, for the life of me, recall anything. For a time way back I used to have dreams about showing up in Dr. Packard’s classroom for a test not knowing what the hell it was about. Luckily, I passed that one, made an A in geology thanks to a keenly-worded theme paper on how geology affected my life and hometown. And I advanced place out of my Biology requirement thanks to the great teaching, in retrospect, of the late high school teacher/coach Allie Smith.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jeff7salter says:

          LOL. I also took that C.L.E.P. test for Biology and got (I think) six hours of credit for it.
          It was a bugger but I studied hard — that was after the Air Force and when I was taking my classes seriously. My own high school biology course was with a diff. teacher in Iowa. She was sweet, but I didn’t learn anything except how much I dislike the smell of formaldyhide (sp?).


  4. This is all fabulous advice! Much of it which I wish I had listened to in my life. I’m currently trying to get my daughter to clean out of her closet. She keeps saying that she might wear it some day to which I have replied “You haven’t worn it in so long you forgot you had it. It’s time to send it to the thrift store.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      I have a sub-set of my clothing that I wear continually (after appropriate washings, of course). And a much larger set of clothes that I almost never wear. Very few of the “almost-nevers” make it to my “always-wear” subset.


  5. What keeps happening to my comments? I posted early this morning! It’s been a long day; wish I could remember all that I said.
    I do remember saying that I would add:”Don;t waste your high school days” either. But as for college, that is the one thing that drove Son #2 crazy when he entered college after the military and on to post graduate school: to see all the kids there not taking their classes and tests seriously, and not taking advantage of extra experiences.
    I am going to post generally about my much younger self, or I could go on listing regrets until next week.Good job, Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good thing I checked! I had already set up tomorrow’s post and that didn’t ‘take’, either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        odd that your comments and posts didn’t stick. but evidently you got it fixed.
        Yeah, wasting high school years is also horrible because it sets up a person — during an extremely crucial point in their lives — to either succeed or fail at later endeavors.
        the “higher” education of college and grad school — while also important, of course — still leaves open a lot of opportunities for career decisions. But to screw up HS… well, it’s just a terrible “start” to one’s early adulthood.
        For myself, I had a blast in high school (last two years, anyhow) but still managed good grades and good scores on the college board tests.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: AAA — Advice to Aspiring Authors | Four Foxes, One Hound

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