No time? Listen to it instead
Tutorial Purgatory is a concept often used by programmers or at least, those who are learning to code. However, it’s not limited to newbies. It can also trap people who have done it for years and have started to learn a new concept.
It is the idea of being caught in tutorials, videos, lectures and other resources and feeling like you’re learning. The thing is, you aren’t because you freeze as soon as you face a blank screen, being asked to apply what you’ve learned.
Tutorial Purgatory isn’t something that applies only to programming, though.
We’re in the knowledge economy. All wisdom is available with a click of a button or tap on a screen.
Wow, there’s another self-help book about habits. Oh, look, that amazing Twitter account about how to earn money faster. That podcast about mindfulness is undoubtedly nothing to miss.
Then, you go from book to book, podcast to podcast, and you never really get anything done.
That’s the Tutorial Purgatory of Life.
You spend so much time studying about living a good life that you barely ever get to try. When you do try, you go blank and feel like you don’t know anything at all. Nothing seems to work after all that time of learning everything there was to about living a better life.
I’ve found myself in the same spot before too – both when I was learning to code and when I consume self-help content even today. To get out of the Tutorial Purgatory though, we need to understand what it is all about.
The Tutorial Purgatory is all about fear and feeling safe. It’s easier to keep learning than to apply what you’ve learned.
Start A Project
When a programmer gets stuck in this hell, they are more or less afraid to try their hand at a project of their own. That’s the first thing each person would tell you to get out of it. It works similarly for the Tutorial Purgatory of Life. Take a tiny, micro part of one thing you learned about and do it.
If you read an entire book about better routines, and if cold showers were a part of it, start with it. Take a cold shower, and only do that for some time. Check if that works for you. If it does not after a significant amount of time, pick something else.
Pick a project. Pick it, try your hand at it, and maybe fail at it. The thing is, nothing worse can happen because if you’re reading something about improving your life, your mindset is aligned already. You’re just too afraid to fail.
The idea is to try as many things as you can from each book or podcast you consume.
Alternate Between Pages And Practice
I’ve taken the longest time to read Principles by Ray Dalio. I wait for a few days and try to put situations from my life into those principles before I move on to the next set.
Don’t take it as a book of fiction. You’re not experiencing self-help. You’re reading it to take some action.
It is easier to read about or watch someone improve their life. It is much harder to do it yourself – until it gets easy. However, you have to pick something up. Starting small is the key to break out of the Tutorial Purgatory.
Consume everything not as a tutorial but as a set of instructions. Then, apply those instructions. You’re not in it for completion but improvement.
Fly Solo for a While
While consuming information is all good, you need to figure out your fit for say, improving your habits. Everything you read or listen to or watch won’t apply to you immediately. You need to try things that make sense to you as well. There’s not one thing about improving your life that you can’t come up with yourself.
Consuming ideas helps us align those thoughts we already have with what worked for someone else, and then we reach a middle ground.
Let the podcasts and the books go for some time and start to build your own systems. For example, I created my own system for caffeine tracking back when I was in college.
The idea was to make it easy to measure my caffeine consumption. I still go back to it from time to time. I’ve never read about it anywhere else as well.
It just occurred to me that it was easier to measure caffeine if I just started scoring myself. So, I set scores: ½ for a cup of tea, 1 for a cup of coffee, 2 for a double shot or self-brewed coffee.
I set a target number for the first week, and gradually reduced it for the second. The first week was all about maintaining a 4 daily. Then, I could cut it down to 3 and so on.
The idea is that you need to fly solo because you do know what works for you. You can’t always rely on instructions and another person’s hacks and tips all the time. They help, but then, you are trying to escape the Purgatory, aren’t you?
Ask for Help When You Need It
A book about better finance management is excellent. However, if you need help with starting an investment or savings regimen, you may need to have an open conversation with your friends or family and pool their approaches in.
The idea is that more people around you are doing so many things right that you barely have to search for all answers in a book or a blog. The answers are all right there. You just need to ask.
For example, I can spend hours on Youtube watching videos in Keystone Habits or read articles about making better decisions, but all that wisdom is already around you.
All of us have at least one friend who has done something for the longest time. It doesn’t have to be something epic, but just that you have seen them do it for years. Ask them about the process. Ask them about what keeps them consistent. You’ll have a much better time learning from them instead.
The reason is simple: they are already in a similar context.
They have probably shared some environment with you before. You may be from the same school, city, college or workplace. You may have a common interest. Or you may just be in the same country.
They can give you advice that will make the solutions stick for longer because they understand your environment better than a podcast or a book ever can.
Get Up And Move
All of those ideas work to get you out of the Tutorial Purgatory of Life but there’s still an underlying action that you have to do: get up and move.
That’s the most important step, to be honest. Acknowledging that you’re in the Purgatory is the first step to action.
Once you accept that you can start to experiment with little changes, and not reading another idea until you apply what you’ve already gathered.
The idea is to accept it first.
The Tutorial Purgatory of Life is when all you’re continually reading is life advice, all you’re listening to is self-help podcasts, and all you’re watching are how to get better videos with nothing to show for it. We stick with books, videos and podcasts, feeling like we’re improving our lives. To improve your life, the best thing you can do is: move. It’s easier to watch someone do something right. It’s much harder to do it yourself.
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