Why How-to Videos don’t Help

 How many of us have decided after setting a goal that we needed to research the goal? Perhaps we decided to start working out. So we go online and look up videos of how to do exercises, how to plan a workout routine, how to plan a diet, how to get in the habit of working out, how to stay on the diet, how to lose weight/gain muscle etc. Before we know it, we have compiled enough info to write a booklet on workouts. We sit back and smile at our new routine and diet plan that took us hours to research and make.


The next day we start the workout and realize how difficult it is. We cut the workout short and decide to further research beginner workouts. Right now we are pretty sore too, better look into how to not get so sore/get over soreness. While we are at it, we might as well research how to make this diet easier too.


The cycle continues. This can happen with any goal. From any goal as complicated as learning another language to as simple as waking up early, there is always some website that will offer insight on how to better/more easily achieve the goal that we are currently working on. Unfortunately, this can cause us to fall into a pattern of “this is too difficult, I’ll wait until I find the right method.” Nothing ever gets done with this mindset.


Get used to the idea that there is no magic formula, no pill, no easy method of achieving your goals. Most of the time, the problem is not our method, but rather the choice that we make to either put the work in or avoid doing work. In this sense, all these how-to videos or articles become its own form of procrastination. It’s great that you can explain how to properly do a power clean with perfect form, but it doesn’t account for much when you have never actually done one yourself. It’s equally as bad to never actually start accomplishing your goal because you haven’t found the right method yet.


A Personal Example

An example from my own life would be when I started playing guitar. I used to listen to some of my favorite guitarists and hear them shred on the guitar. Obviously being a young kid, I wanted to be able to play fast solos on the guitar. Practice for me meant playing along with some easy songs that did not challenge my ability whatsoever followed by watching some videos on how to play guitar faster. Before long, I had a fancy guitar practice routine on my computer with a wide library of exercises for guitar.


Did I follow that routine and go through the guitar exercises? At first. For a day. Then it was back to more videos on how to play. In the end, my guitar “practice” consisted of very little guitar playing and a lot of video watching/blog reading. A year later, I wondered why I could put in so much “work” and have so little to show for it. After all, I had a list of carefully planned exercises and a greatly articulated plan that told me which exercises to play, how long to play them, and how fast to play them. The only thing I was missing was actually following through and doing the dirty work of actually playing.


Eventually something caused me to wonder what would happen if I did decide to actually practice. Maybe the lack of results made me desperate to try anything, including hard work. Whatever it was, I stopped watching how to videos and started to practice. I would sit down, and just go through some scales a few times and slowly increase the speed. As long as I could play the scale just a little bit faster than I could the day before (and still sound good of course), that was all that mattered.

Funny enough, a couple weeks after doing the exercises, I got better. I could play the exercises easily and started adding more exercises. Over time, the exercises started applying to guitar solos I wanted to play and made them easier. I found that I could actually play these solos that I once thought were so difficult. All by putting in a little hard work.


The challenging part about all this is it’s a process. I still sometimes will look up an interview of a guitarist for his practice routine or what he did, but sometimes it’s not always limited to just one webpage. Every time I catch myself falling into this trap, I have to remind myself that I already possess the knowledge of how to, I just need to actually put in the work. So I will shut my laptop, and practice.


More Time

For people with busy schedules, the great thing about not watching so many how-to videos is that you now have so much more time in your schedule! That hour a day you spend watching videos of heavy bag drills is now free for you to actually go punch a heavy bag. Those 30 minutes you spent last night staying up researching how to wake up early could have been spent going to bed early so you could have woken up 30 minutes earlier today.


One thing that I definitely want to clarify though. How to videos do have their place. If you are completely new to learning a skill, it’s never a bad idea to learn the basics before you start. Especially doing something where improper technique or form could cause an injury, it is a good idea to know what you are doing before you just jump into the task. They can also expedite the learning process or help you bust through a plateau.


There is a lot of good information for how to do something out on the web. However, don’t let it become a substitute for the real deal hard work. Because it’s not. And by all means if those types of videos help you stay motivated, then go ahead and watch them, just after you’ve actually done the work that day.