“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Harry Truman
Year after year, among the most common New Year’s resolutions is to “read more books.” It’s right up there with “eat better”, “exercise more” and “spend less.” It’s a goal that I’ve personally set many times in the past, with limited success.
NOT THIS YEAR!
This year, I turned “read more books in 2018” into “read 15 books in 2018” and you’ll be happy to know that I’m currently on track to more than DOUBLE my goal!
I’ve already completed 2 books and should have a third complete by the end of January – putting me on pace to finish 36 books by the end of year!
What happened? How did I go from struggling to find time to read one book per month to somehow finishing THREE books in January?
You must start with WHY, and then move to HOW.
Start with "WHY"
The starting point to accomplishing any goal is to constantly remind yourself of why it matters. Why do I want to read more books in 2018? For that matter, why do I want to accomplish any of the goals I set?
When I set goals, I like to push myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to do something I’ve never done before. A goal of “running on the treadmill 3 times a week” doesn’t excite me; but “run a half marathon by my 40th birthday” does! I need my goals to be challenging enough to push me to work.
But the challenging nature means that there will be days where you just don’t feel like pushing yourself to do it. You don’t feel like eating healthy. You don’t feel like working on your resume. You don’t feel like investing in that relationship.
And that is certainly true for reading as well. There are definitely days where reading won’t be easy and the temptation will be to just watch TV instead. But that’s why you need to constantly remind yourself WHY you set this goal to begin with.
I came up with four reasons why I want to read more in 2018:
- I will continue learning and growing as a person/leader.
- I will keep my mind sharp and fresh.
- I will refresh my spirit.
- It will help me come up with fresh ideas for my preaching/ministry.
That’s my WHY. That’s what I stand to gain if I accomplish this goal and I remind myself of these motivations on a weekly basis.
Now for the "HOW"
1. Come up with a variety of categories
The first thing I did was come up with 7 different categories of books that I’d like to read or listen to. I based the categories on the relationships in my life. For example, the categories are centered around my relationship to:
- GOD – spiritual books
- MYSELF – personal growth books
- WIFE – marriage books
- KIDS – parenting books
- MY CHURCH – management/leadership books
- MY MISSION – books about topics that I’m planning to preach about
- MISC – books that have no value but just seem interesting
After I came up with these categories, I went out and found one book title for each category. As I begin reading, I set out to find another book in that same category to be “on deck” as soon as I finish the first.
Having a variety of categories and books allows me to stay motivated about reading by reading whatever I’m in the mood for. And that relates to my next point.
2. Read more than one book at a time
I can’t tell you how FREEING this one principle has been for me. I used to be the guy that couldn’t start another book until I finished the one I had already started. It sounds good in theory, but the problem is that once you lose interest in a book, you avoid reading altogether. And then your next book is held hostage while you try to manufacture the energy to trudge your way through the book you’ve already lost interest in.
The better way? Start a book and keep going as long as you’re into it. One day you might not be in the mood for it; no worries, just pick up the next one. You can come back to the first one eventually (if you want). Very freeing and very effective!
As my friend Joel Miller once wrote, “I’ll quit any book at any time. Life’s too short to soldier through an uninteresting book.”
This one’s a game changer.
3. Schedule reading/listening time
If it doesn’t get scheduled, it probably won’t happen. So instead of “hoping to read more” in 2018, put it in your calendar. Schedule it. Set aside a block of time every day (or even just 3 times per week) to read. The amount doesn’t matter; what matters is the consistency and commitment to your goal.
And if you’re saying to yourself “I don’t have the time”, one decision I’ve made this year is to TURN OFF THE RADIO while I’m driving. I now listen to audiobooks instead. GAME CHANGER!
You don’t realize how a 10 minute drive to school + a 15 minute drive to work + a 12 minute drive to the grocery store can add up. I guarantee you that if you make this one small change, you’ll be SHOCKED at how much more you can read/consume.
And for those who struggle to concentrate on audiobooks, I’ve discovered that certain genres lend themselves to audio more than others. Don’t give up on audiobooks altogether without first trying different genres first.
That’s it. That’s how I’m reading more books in 2018 and how I to continue to be a avid reader for life.
“Till I come, give attention to READING, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” 1 Timothy 4:13-14