I didn’t reach my reading goal this year.
This blog is my attempt to make sure that doesn’t happen in 2021. I think the best place to start is with a little reflecting on how I got here.
In 2019, I started reading for the first time since I graduated high school.
Starting with a “reading every morning” challenge around May 2019, I finished the year off having read 21 books.
In 2020, I pledged to read 50 books. A lofty goal all things considered. But I felt pretty confident that I could reach it without any problems.
I had a really good rhythm going at the end of 2019. Having read half the 20 books in under two months, I figured 50 was an easy target.
This year, in 2020, I read 32 books (If I can finish the book I’m reading now I’ll finish with 33).
At first I felt a little bad when Goodreads told me that I was 17 books behind schedule, but when I reflected on the fact that between 2016-2019 I read a total of 0 books (if we’re not counting things I had to read for classes, which I didn’t always finish anyways) I realized I was being a bit harsh on myself.
Instead of feeling bad I decided to take some time to think and make a better plan for 2021.
To start, I wanted to do what I always do when I’m trying to do something new. I asked myself a few questions:
- What is the purpose of the goal?
- What value of mine does it fit?
- What is a good goal for this (time frame, any specifics)?
- How will I reach it?
The purpose of reading is… I enjoy it.
And that’s true, but also “reading is good for you”. At least according to every self-development influencer ever it is. And I don’t think they’re wrong.
According to one of my favorite influencers (yes, I consume way too much self-development content), it’s one of the habits you should pick up to change your life.
When I was on my “self-improvement kick” I felt like reading was a must. Everyone talked about how essential it is, so I figured I’d give it a shot. But if I’m being honest I really didn’t think it’d stick.
I hated reading when I was a kid. I was terrible at it and I thought reading a whole book would be impossible, or take way more time than it was worth. The only book I voluntarily read was The Maze Runner series (even The Hunger Games was forced on me in school).
That book series is still one of my all-time favorites, but it didn’t change my opinion on reading. I figured it was a fluke that I loved the story so much. I didn’t love reading, I loved The Maze Runner.
But when I started reading in college, and focused on enjoying the process of reading, not just the story, it completely changed how I felt. I now subscribe to the belief that reading is good for you.
Readers are leaders after all.
Don’t get me wrong, reading did not stick right away. I spent almost two months reading my first two books in 2019. But after I finished “Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk” and “Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl” things changed.
I was excited to find a new book to read.
I was lucky. I chose two great books to start with, but that’s because I had a friend who loved to read and they recommended “Man’s Search For Meaning”. I also read Invisible Monsters because of the connection it has to Panic at the Disco’s song “Time To Dance”.
Both books challenged how I viewed the world. “Man’s Search for Meaning” is a book that explains Frankl’s “LogoTherapy” and dives into his personal experiences at Auschwitz. If you haven’t read it I recommend it (and I’ll be rereading it in 2021). “Invisible Monsters” is all about about a model who loses her beauty and has to find a new way to exist in the world.
Anyways, to get to the point of this article, I think reading is important.
It gives me silence from the ever-chaotic and loud world we live in, and it provides me a space to indulge into other people’s viewpoints (People who clearly want to be heard since they’re publishing their work).
And the best thing I got from reading…
It also got me to fall in love with writing.
As a classic INFJ I live in my mind more than I live in the real world. Writing allows me indulge into my fantasies and share all of the thoughts roaming through my head. I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll never run out of things to write about, because I know I’ll never run out of thoughts.
It’s chaotic at times, but writing helps me focus on one thought at a time.
Well sort of, I’m sure you can tell by how this is written that my thoughts aren’t always linear… Which takes me back to the final question of this article. How will I reach this goal?
I’ve found the secret to reading more, and spoiler alert, it was at the start of this article.
I like reading before bed and when I wake up. This is my simple life-hack to reading.
Not being on my phone before bed helps my brain slowly shut down. And being focused on one story, as opposed to the million thoughts running through my head, helps me quiet my mind for sleep.
Since I love to read I also find it easier to wake up in the morning knowing that a good book is waiting for me on my nightstand.
But the biggest benefit of this is that it gets rid of the “I have no time to read” excuse, and it builds momentum.
Just like everyone else, I am a busy person too.
I have about 1000 things I’m working on at any given time. I just started this website, I run a podcast, I make videos sometimes, write music, work my job, paint, workout, clean my bathroom, do the dishes, call my parents… you get the idea, but having a designated time to read keeps me from feeling like “I never have the time”.
And if I read something AMAZING before bed I sometimes find myself itching to read throughout the day. I’ll start to read on my lunch break or between push-up sets.
So the first step for me is to read before bed or first thing in the morning.
But I knew all this going into 2020. I planned to read every night and morning (And I did up until about April). So in order to try to keep it going this time (I’m writing this article to reflect and) I’m setting two subgoals: the two day rule and the one page goal.
The two day rule is another one of my favorite influencer’s thing: you can’t not do something two days in a row.
If I don’t read tonight, I have to read tomorrow. No two days off. This avoids “falling off” just because I might miss a day (which will definitely happen at some point). And the one page rule is the expectation that I only have to read one page a night.
Hear me out on this. Most of the time when I don’t want to do something it’s because the task feels too daunting. But reading one page doesn’t sound scary at all, and I can guarantee you that if I start with one page I will flip the page 98% of the time and continue.
Lastly, in order to make sure I’m reading more, I set up a small plastic box in my bathroom with four good books in it. This has worked surprisingly well for me lately.
Instead of bringing my phone into the bathroom (don’t judge we all do it), I read on the silver throne now. It’s helped me finally finish the book “How To Be Free” and it’s given me more quiet time in my day.
I hate being on my phone all the time anyways. I notice that when I am I feel about 90% worse (yes, that’s a real statistic). But that’ll be a post for another day.
My point? If you want to read more in 2021 (because you also think it’s good for you and you also didn’t quite reach your goal this year) then focus on why you’re doing it and how you’re going to incorporate reading into your life.
And make sure you’re reading good books. That always helps.
If you need recommendations you can follow me on goodreads or subscribe to my blog (on the bottom right of the page 😉 I’ll be posting book reviews as I also try to reach my new reading goal (Starting with “How To Be Free” by Epictetus, A.A. Long (Translation)).
Until Next Time,