Read More Books with These 5 Transformational Habits

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“Reading is a form of mentorship where we can learn from the greats even if we can’t spend personal time with them. I’ve literally tricked hundreds of thousands of people into believing that I’m brilliant, BECAUSE I READ ALL THE TIME!”

-Burn Your Goals by Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert

Reading is one of the most powerful and transformational habits you can build in your life. Over the last decade, my New Year’s resolution has always been to read more books! However, as I set out to increase the number of books I read in a year from 22 to 56, I made some changes in my life, and some of these had nothing to do with reading! Overall, the experience has been one that has given me not just more knowledge and understanding, but more courage as well.

“Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.”

-John Waters

How did I make reading a habit?

  1. I made a public commitment. I let my Facebook friends and people in my circle know that I was committed to reading 52 books in a year. Throughout the year, I shared the books that I was reading with everyone. During the year, their support and willingness to read some of the same books inspired me to keep going.

  2. I cut down the time I spent on two very unessential activities that provided little value to my life: TV and social media. When you want to add a new activity to your life, you must be prepared to subtract something from your life, as well. The two biggest subtractions that I made were TV and social media. I stopped watching TV every night and limited it to just once or twice a week instead. I also did social media fasts for a few days at a time, and used the time that I would usually spend scrolling on a newsfeed to read an eBook instead.

  3. I used 3 different platforms to read:

    • Hardcopies/Physical Books. Especially at night, because studies have shown that looking at a smartphone screen right before bed can be harmful to sleep. Additionally, I still love a physical copy of the text because it is easier to highlight and write notes in.

    • eBook/iBook: Being able to read on my phone was huge. It was a great alternative in times I would typically scroll through my newsfeed instead or while rocking one of my kids to sleep!

    • Audiobooks: I had some long car rides from Tennessee to Pennsylvania in the early part of the year, so I maximized my time on those trips by listening to audiobooks. These are also great for those times when I was doing mindless activities around the house.

  4. I took notes. Even for audiobooks! I was able to make notes in the Audible app and then go back later to put them into my note system (in Evernote). When you are reading a lot of books, you will probably want to remember great quotes, important facts, and intriguing stories. This level of engagement will enable you to get the most out of the next step, which is…

  5. I reflected on what I read. Unbroken, Pride and Prejudice, Burn Your Goals… it didn’t matter the type of book I read; I spent time reflecting and taking something from all of them! I wrote down my thoughts as I read by keeping a daily journal. Later, I started a blog to share some of the lessons and principles I was taking from my reading.

As I mentioned earlier, I will be keeping the same resolution to read more books in 2018. However, my one change for 2018 is that I will not set a goal of reading a certain number of books. Why? For two reasons:

  1. The goal of reaching 52 books demotivated me early in the year, because I got so far ahead of the pace I had set to read 52. The healthy habits I created started to suffer, since I knew that I would, without a doubt, achieve my goal if I kept up the same pace.

  2. The goal created stress at times, especially when I was close to falling behind, and it created an inflexibility in some of my habits, to the point when it was detrimental to what was most important in life. For example, the week my son was born, or the week I spent in France with friends, would have been an unrealistic and unhealthy time to insist on “finishing” a book. Also, some books are significantly longer than others.  was a 26-hour long audiobook!

So, my advice is to focus on the process, not the result!

-J.P. Nerbun