After making some mistakes in setting my August goals (and thus not accomplishing them), I bounced back with a revision for September, and I’m happy to say my goal of reading at least 30 minutes every day was met and exceeded.
The various things I did to help that goal worked – I strategically placed my Kindle away from my work station and in a spot where I was more likely to be relaxing with my kids. Occasionally it made its way to the bedside table, but I try not to read before bed too much – I have enough trouble sleeping as it is without being distracted by books I want to read.
I set a daily reminder on my calendar as well, and I’m pretty hard-wired to respond to that sort of thing after years of training myself.
The end result was just what I’d hoped – not only did I read at least 30 minutes each day, but several days I read a lot more. Once you get started, it’s easy to keep going, which is why setting small, incremental goals is so helpful.
I ended up finishing 5 books total this month. I’m not going to make this any kind of review of the books, save to say I gained something valuable from all of them, and thoroughly enjoyed reading them. In case you’re curious what they were:
- Can You Outsmart An Economist? by Steven Landsburg
- The Science of Self-Learning by Peter Hollins
- The Hole by Aaron Ross Powell
- Understanding Statistics by Antony Davies
- Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart & Randy Street
I read primarily as a consumption good; it’s entertainment and personal enrichment for me. That being said, I also definitely feel like I gain something beyond enjoyment; whether I use any particular piece of knowledge I obtain, it’s definitely a workout for my brain. And just like my regular workout, the key is balancing the enjoyment I get from it in the moment with the benefits I get in the longer term.
I could almost assuredly see better results from a more intense workout, but then I’d enjoy it less and not only does that hurt my chances of sticking with it, it also hurts the scales of the bargain. I’m willing to defer my gratification to some extent, but I don’t want to be miserable today in order to be happy tomorrow.
The same is true for books. I don’t necessarily choose carefully what I’m reading based on a targeted learning path. I read what I enjoy. Along the way, it works out the mental muscles. Dialing it back to 30 minutes instead of an hour each day resulted in me reading more, and that’s the power of enjoyable goals.
So, onto October’s resolution! Well, in addition to reading, I’ve started writing a more serious book as well. I’m committing to 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing each day; no editing or revision yet, just getting down raw words. If I do that every day for all of October, I’ll have quite a chunk written by the end. I’m also keeping the reading levels up – as they say, “if you want to write, read!”