How I Read 20 Books in 2017
Hi world, I must say I love how much can happen in a year…like how I read 20 books in 2017!
Years, as a period of time, alert one’s life in both expected and unexpected ways. I suppose that’s why we often make New Year’s resolutions or goals.
Maybe it’s because we’ve determined that a year is both a realistic and optimistic quantity of time that will allow us to achieve even the most outlandish goals. For me, an outlandish goal I had was learning how to become an avid reader.
See it happened when I read this article this time last year illustrating how Bill Gates reads over 50 books a year.
“50 books a year!?“, I said to myself, “I struggle trying to read one a month!”
So this year I am proud to say that I’ve read over 20+ books in the year of 2017! If you would’ve told me a year ago that I could do it, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Last year, I was ambitious & I had the burning desire to finally become an avid reader. I even read this article that illustrates how the majority of millionaires and billionaires, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, read daily. So I decided to take on this goal! In previous years, I’ve set reading goals like “I want to finish 12 books this year.” I almost always fell short.
This year I decided to take a different approach to tackling this lofty goal. This time set a goal of habit instead of a goal of quantity.
My secret approach was holding myself accountable that “I will read 1-hour a day or 7-hours a week.”
I learned that by adding the caveat of “7-hrs a week” was a major key because–let’s face it–shit happens in life and sometimes I wasn’t able to dedicate an hour a day…So I had to make up for lost time during my slower & lazier days, like weekends.
Like building any new habit it was pretty tough at first. But after sticking through January it became a habit…and by March I pretty much became addicted to reading because of its amazing side-effects!
So I wonder if you’ve asked this: “What are the side-effects of daily reading and why the hell should you want to read an hour a day?”
Here are the Top 10 things I Gained by Reading Daily:
1. I developed a long-term peace of mind.
In an ultra-compulsive world of social media, it’s hard for people (especially in my generation) to sit still long enough to be content with their thoughts. I realized how distracting and destructive social media became for me after watching this video from Simon Sinek. We not only waste precious time on social media, but we also become depressed after spending so much time on it.
And so I learned that the less I spent on social media and the more I spent reading, the greater my peace of mind.
2. I learned how to talk to anyone about…well pretty much anything.
Reading different subjects not only makes you book smart, but it can make you people smart, too. One of the takeaways I got from the classic book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie”, was that in order to be a good conversationalist, you’ve got to talk to people about things they are interested in. And not in a superficial way, but in a genuine way!
So in this way, reading helped me have better in-depth conversations with people about topics they are passionate about.
3. My memory increased, tremendously.
My memory has always been pretty good when it came to remembering facts about people and their faces. I learned that was because of long-term memory.
However, I used to be very terrible with my short-term memory like remembering names, numbers, and other small details. This is because of short-term memory.
Reading is to memory what weights are to muscles. So while I am still not the best at remembering names, I know I’ll continue to get better.
4. I became much more focused & thus increased my productivity.
Like I stated earlier, reading helped me gain a peace-of-mind. With peace of mind, comes the ability to focus.
Imagine your mind is a lake. When the lake is still, it’s easier to see clearly to the bottom of it. It is easier to see what’s truly important. Then you can better prioritize what you give your energy to. But when the lake is not still and is in turmoil–like hurricanes creating tidal waves in the middle of the ocean–it’s harder to see anything at all.
Chaos, like lack of focus, throws off your ability to know what to do. The habit of reading helps stills the lake and thus gives you clarity.
5. My quality of sleep got a lot better.
Admittedly, I’m a workaholic. So I rarely get more than 6-hrs of sleep.
Studies show that reading, rather than watching television or being on your phone, will help you get deeper REM sleep. I can say from experience that this is absolutely true. I may not get the “recommend 7-hrs” of sleep, but when I read before I go to sleep, I usually wake up feeling very well rested.
6. I developed better internal skills like persistence, patience, and compassion.
To be honest, I don’t know if this came from the self-help books that I’ve been reading, or just reading in general.
What I do know, is that I’ve been able to become a better person by becoming a better reader. Finishing tough/boring books in general, like the 400+ page book “Story” by Robert McKee, helped me learn the value in persistence through challenging material.
While I read, I always take notes. Note taking teaches me how to not only finish books for the sake of reading them, but also the power of internalizing & retaining each book’s information.
I believe more than compassion, reading other people’s arguments or philosophies taught me how to be more empathetic. I might not agree with the author’s point-of-view but I learn to respect it by allowing them to present their case. The same thing can be applied in everyday situations, including how you react when you get cut off in traffic.
7. I developed better spending and saving habits.
I can honestly say that before this year, I always spent my money very frivolously. Up until this year, I wondered if I could ever overcome the curse of compulsive spending.
But I learned a lot from the personal finance book called “The Money Answer Book” by Dave Ramsey.
Moreover, what I learned by frequently reading is that we often spend carelessly because we are constantly being advertised. We’re told to buy stuff everywhere we go. On social media. On TV. On billboards. Everywhere!
We have become programmed to believe that happiness is external. Reading has acted as an antidote to advertising teaching that happiness is really internal.
Reading makes me feel content & happy; learning something new makes me feel better than purchasing something each and every time.
8. I learned how to better handle stress.
Now don’t get me wrong, reading doesn’t stop me from encountering stressful situations.
Instead, it helped me calm the lake of my mind so I think clearly through them.
When I encounter stressful shit I ask: “Is this worth stressing about?” & “If so, what can I do to change it so I can stop stressing?…”
Also, if there’s something you’re difficult that you’re going through, chances are someone wrote a book about it. If they didn’t, you should.
9. I learned how to learn.
I attribute this concept to the book: “The Practicing Mind” by Thomas M. Sterner. Because reading taught me how to be more focused and patient, I’ve multiplied this concept of learning by practicing other skills like drawing, writing, etc. Thus…
10. I learned how to accomplish my other goals!
I had a plenty of grandiose goals this year. Some were accomplished and others will be accomplished next year…
The biggest way that reading has helped me (outside of the pure inspiration that came from each book) is the fact it taught me that you can accomplish anything with consistency and practice.
More than anything, this is the lifelong lesson that I am grateful to have learned this year the most.
Did you enjoy this blog and feel better prepared to tackle your reading goals for next year?… Awesome, feel free to share this with your friends.
You can also help me with my reading goals for 2018 by gifting me with any of the books from my Amazon wish-list.
Thanks for the support and stay blessed!
-elijah ♱ watkins.