A few years ago, I set a goal to read 50 books a year because I was inspired by Bill Gates who is reported to read that much every year. I aspire to become a billionaire so I thought I should start doing some of what billionaires do which is read. Those of you who already know that I aspired to become a millionaire several years ago will notice that I've upgraded my ambitions. That's because even though the cash is not on hand yet, I have no doubt that it will be within 5 years. So think of the million as the short term goal and the billion as the 20-year goal.
In 2020, I read 16 books. In 2021, that number declined to 12 books. Noting the dip in performance and being dissatisfied with it, about this time last year, I set a goal to read 24 books in 2022 and supported it with a plan which was that I would read 2 books every month. I am happy to report that I am on my 27th book, and on course to finish 30 books by end of this month. I am happy about this because not only am I now smarter than I was when this year begun, I am also happier thanks to some of the new ideas my reading brought into my life this year. I have experienced achievements which did not satisfy so I am enjoying being in a place where my achievements fill me up.
My reading goal for 2023 is 50 books, of course.
So how did I do it? And how can you do it too?
1. Set a goal that is realistic for you
People I know who have failed at this set unrealistic goals. If you read five books this year, you are not likely to suddenly be able to jump to fifty. Sorry. It's just not going to happen. And the reason is that your life is not currently set up to allow you to read that much. And changing your life enough for that outcome to happen will be too drastic a change for you to sustain. It takes time to implement sustainable change. It will be 4 years before I'd have achieved my original goal of 50 books. Do as I do and think of your 50 books as your 5-year goal. But in year one, if you read 0-5 books this year, setting a goal to read 10 books and actually achieving it will be a worthwhile achievement. That's about 1 book a month. Doable wouldn't you say?
2. Set aside a reading time
One of the epiphanies that helped me improve my reading outcomes was that I was reading when I had time to read. If you operate that way, you will never have enough time. I realised that for my outcomes to change, I needed to create time in my life to read. I gave myself 1 hour to read daily on weekdays and I fixed a particular time. The time I fixed was 4-5 pm daily after I had picked up the kids from school. I then needed to explain to my kids that 4-5 pm is Mummy's reading time and they weren't allowed to interrupt me for any reason. I was actually happy to be teaching them to respect my boundary and also happy that they were learning to patiently wait for the hour to pass before coming to ask me anything. As one of my Bible Study Fellowship friends also brought to my attention, I was also teaching them by example that learning is important, and that making people you love wait is not a bad thing if you get back to them in a reasonable amount of time. And I am always ready to welcome them at 5 pm with a smile so they learned to trust that Mummy really only needs an hour and it goes by quicker than you think.
3. Make a reading plan
Before I started to consciously read, I was a by-chance-reader. If I came to visit you and you had an interesting book, I might ask to borrow it. But I was not consciously improving my mind. I never asked myself: what do I want to learn more about? What do I need to know more about? What knowledge would improve my life if I acquired it? Once I started to ask myself such questions, I was able to develop reading plans categorised by life dimension. A plan is a list of books you want to read organised by when you will read them. In January, I read spiritual books. In February, I read marriage books, In March, I read parenting books, In August, I read career-related books, In November, I read for intellectual advancement etc. I will blog later to share some of my breakthrough insights from this year.
4. Listen to audiobooks
A realistic goal, reading time, and a plan is what helped me achieve my goal of reading 24 books this year. But something else happened towards the end of this year. Because my ultimate reading goal is to read 50 books a year, I started to worry about how I would achieve that next year if my current system only got me to 24 books/year. I did a quick google search to see how others had done it. And I found one gem of an advice. Audiobooks! Audiobooks are great because you can listen to them whilst going for a walk or whilst cooking or when you're in the shower. Once I started listening to audiobooks, I was able to exceed this year's goal by 6 books and see that if I had been including audiobooks from the beginning, I would have read even more this year and therefore if I do that next year, I will achieve and sustain my ultimate goal.
5. Improve your reading/learning skills
Your reading process can actually be improved to allow you to comprehend the key takeaways without reading every book from cover to cover. That can reduce your reading time, and allow you to get through more books. With this ability improved, suddenly you're reading 50 books a year. Magic!
Pretty darn exciting!
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