“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
Maybe you are just getting started and you want to add reading to your lifestyle or you’re picking up where you left off. Whatever the case may be, you probably understand the impact reading creates in our lives.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives only one.” — George R. R. Martin
Most of us face this daily challenge of mastering the routine all successful people do before they start their day, reading. We want to be better human beings, and we can’t deny that putting our nose in a book helps make it happen.
You see this concept of reading roams the internet like bees swarm honey. It’s one of those topics that will never leave our curiosity as long as people seek more and more ways of becoming more effective human beings, like you.
I always struggled to read, especially in school. I failed so many English classes because I didn’t complete the 5 pages we were supposed to read after school. I dreaded books. I thought they were dry and old.
Until I realized my spirit was dry. And being old was a thing to come. Someone told me that when you put so much good in you, more good comes out. The words can be written by a 5-year-old, but the meaning isn’t distributed evenly unless you do it.
I wish it was easier to show you how I managed to read 30 books last year. But, with the help of some friends and a lot of solitude, I put together the formula I didn’t even know I created until I was done.
1. Set the Goal
Like marriage, I encourage you to commit. Before you find any reasons that won’t let you manage a consistent reading habit, make a commitment to yourself. Don’t worry about finding the time because I’ll help you with that later. Write it down and put it on your desk, where you can see your claim for greatness every day. Muhammad Ali is known for saying he was the greatest boxer in the world before we knew his name. Do what he did and claim it, write it, and set the goal. It’s the best way to start anything because you are backing up your intention with direction.
This is how sailboats sail best, when they know where they want to go. Otherwise, the wind will keep them in an endless cycle where, one day, they realize it’s been too long since they’ve seen land. And if you’ve been on earth, you know life always tosses us winds, especially when they’re unforeseen in the forecast.
Anyway, let’s keep moving on.
2. Pick Out Your First 5 Books
Now that you’ve decided to invest your time, energy, and effort into reading for 1 year, let’s pick the books you want to read. This can be challenging if you are just getting started or getting back into the grind. However, all you have to do is throw these 5 books in your Amazon shopping cart or pick them up at a local bookstore so you have something to look forward to when you finish one book. We all read at different paces, but the key here is consistency. You are setting yourself up for accountability.
3. Find Your Environment
One of the most critical elements of achieving something daily is creating an atmosphere that allows you to polish your skills. For example, a bodybuilder electing to win a title uses the gym. A writer uses a personal desk or locks themself in a sound-proof library office. When you discover what kind of atmosphere motivates you to pick a book up and put your phone away, you’re going to be blown away at how productive you become.
For me, it was buying an L-shaped desk from Walmart and building it for 4 hours. Because of the time I invested in it, I now use it daily to read and write. Otherwise, that time is wasted. And no one likes to do that.
Each time I sit at it, it feels weird to use my phone. So I leave it on the other side of my room on do-not-disturb mode. And I read. No distractions. No thinking about anything else. My mind is clear. And I can enjoy what I read.
This step was my favorite.
4. Wear One Like You Wear Socks
A long time ago, a mentor of mine told me that, to eliminate my tendency to skip reading, I needed to do something different. When you carry a book with you everywhere you go, you keep the image in the forefront of your mind. You subconsciously keep yourself accountable for reading. You don’t have to read it or even touch it each time, but, like your goals, when they are in sight, they are in mind. And the more you think about something good for yourself, the more propelled you are to achieve it.
This was super weird at first. I had to explain to people why there was always a book in my car. I couldn’t let it go. It was part of the commitment I made to myself. And, the next thing you know, I was wearing a book as much as I wore socks and reading became easier and easier. Each day, my curiosity climbed and I wondered what the next pages had in them.
5. Remind Yourself of the True Benefits
Maybe a lot like you, whenever I try something new, I continuously find myself experiencing doubt. Perhaps it’s because of skepticism that something will work out. Perhaps it’s having little confidence in my own ability to achieve something. However, I researched and found many benefits to reading that I never knew existed. When you’re conscious and aware of the rewards that come with doing a thing, you have a tendency to think of the benefits more than you think of doubts. I have written these out for you.
- reading gives you clarity
- reading increases your vocabulary
- reading improves your memory and focus
- reading can melt away stress and worry
- reading is proven to help purge depression
- reading allows you to get inside the mindset of prominent authors (kind of like a free mentor)
- reading expands your writing abilities
- reading boost your sleep
- reading can be meditative for your mind
- reading will never go away as the content is infinite
If you have to do what I did and write these down somewhere, do it. One thing I will add is how I took each benefit and tied it to a personal goal of mine.
For example, I am learning from others how to become a better writer. And, by reading, I told myself that would expand my abilities because I’d expose myself to new words, stories, and creativity that could help me think better. And it’s been fun.
I recommend you do something similar.
Everyone’s reasons for reading are different. It could be entertainment for someone. It could be for personal development. Either way, being consistent with it is essential.
I want to thank my friends and family who encouraged me to share this, as it was just a page in my journal 2 months ago.
I hope this helps!