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5 Powerful Mind Hacks to Read 10X More Books This Year

5 Powerful Mind Hacks to Read 10X More Books This Year

Unlike articles that can be written in a matter of hours, well-written books take several years of research, writing, and editing. And because there’s more thought that goes into publishing a book, it’s that much more valuable.

While the value of books haven’t changed, studies show that the number of people reading books have been decreasing.

You’re probably not too surprised by these findings because of the information era we live in today. It’s just not as easy to sit down and read a book when you’re being distracted by your smartphone every five minutes.

Fortunately, there are powerful hacks to trick our own brain to form positive habits, such as reading more often.

Here are 5 powerful mind hacks that you can use to read more books.

1. Start with small steps

Starting a book from the beginning can feel intimidating, especially if it’s been a while since we read a book.

Taking small steps is applicable to achieving just about any goal, because it allows us to gain momentum without overwhelming ourselves. Scott H. Young has a great article you can check out here about taking small steps.

Let’s put two people side by side:

  • Person A: Reads 10 minutes every single morning consistently without ever missing a day
  • Person B: Read for 3 hours straight every few weeks

Who do you think will still be reading a year from now?

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    Jack Cheng says that 30 Minutes A Day is enough to form a new habit. He shares in this post:

    “When mastery is the goal, spending an exorbitant number of hours in one sitting will likely lead to burnout. We don’t go to the gym expecting to put on 20 pounds of muscle in a single, day-long workout. Instead, we do several short workouts a week, spread out over months.

    Our bodies need time to heal; our muscles time to grow. And the same goes for that muscle inside your skull. When trying to develop a new skill, the important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.”

    Developing the “muscle inside your skull” requires diligent action every single day, no matter how small the progress.

    Small steps add up fast, and small pages add up to many books.
    Don’t wait until tomorrow. Get started now. Then do it again tomorrow.

    2. Do It Early

    According to Kathleen Vohs, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, “people still have the same self-control as a decade ago, but we are bombarded more and more with temptations”

    “Our psychological system is not set up to deal with all the potential immediate gratification.”

    We need to exert our limited willpower more than ever today, if we want to avoid distractions and stay focused on the task at hand. Since willpower is finite, we need to identify the times of the day when it’s at its highest.

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    Studies show that early in the morning, just after waking, is the time of the day when the prefrontal cortex is most active (a key element to the creative process).

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      What can we take away from this?

      If reading is a task that requires some form of willpower, then doing it early in the morning gives you the best chance of reading more books. Because you’ll be the most creative at this hour, you may also be able to generate more ideas during your reading.

      3. Stop before you’re finished

      Have you ever been interrupted when you were in the middle of something important? Not the best feeling in the world, is it?

      According to the Zeigarnik Effect, you are much more likely to recall uncompleted tasks than one you completed. In a 1927 study, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik asked subjects to complete a set of tasks. During some of the tasks, the subjects were interrupted before they could finish. When asked later about the tasks, they recalled the tasks during which they were interrupted at a much higher rate than those they were able to complete.

      Hollywood was one of the first industries to take advantage of the Zeignarik Effect in humans, by introducing cliff hangers to TV shows and movies.
      There’s just something about our brain that needs the story to be completed.

      2015-10-21-1445410698-8403632-futurecontinued

        Knowing this pattern of our brains, we can try to trick it by forcing cliffhangers when we’re reading books. This is something I’ve personally been experimenting myself.

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        Screen-Shot-2016-02-29-at-9.11.22-AM-1024x576

          I personally read a lot of books using an app called Scribd, and I try to finish a few pages before the chapter or large section ends. The bigger the climax, the more I try to force myself to stop reading. It kills me every single time, but it also forces my brain to continue where I left off, and it’s been an effective strategy to be more consistent with my reading habit.

          Try it for yourself!

          4. Use Triggers to Your Advantage

          If you’re like me, then you’ve probably started a habit only to forget about it a few days later. I’ve done this several times with books, even after a great reading session.

          To combat this, you can use triggers to your advantage. A trigger (or cue) is what Charles Duhigg, author of Power of Habits, calls the event that starts the habit.

          habit-three-r-1024x560

            We’ve already shared one trigger you can use to your advantage —  time.

            After a few weeks of reading consistently each morning, your brain will be automatically triggered the following mornings to begin reading.

            Another powerful trigger is a visual trigger. You may have heard about the positive benefits of laying out your clothes the night before, if you want an easier time waking up. You could apply the same strategy for books.

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            If you enjoy reading physical books, you can leave your books in places where you’ll be able to visually spot it everyday, such as your desk.
            If you enjoy reading books digitally like I do, you could pin your tab so it’s always in your visual perspective.

            Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.11.04 AM
              Notice the Scribd tab on the 3rd tab.

              Since over 90% of the work I do involves using my browser, it makes it hard to forget that I have to continue where I left off in the book.

              5. Read for Immediate Rewards

              There’s no shortage of studies that show the correlation between human behavior change and immediate rewards. One study was done by researchers at Harvard University, where many people who were offered the choice of $10 today or $11 tomorrow chose to receive the lesser amount immediately.

              Receiving immediate rewards releases dopamine in our brains, which compels us to seek more of the activity at hand.

              dopamine

                Countless studies have shown that a cue and a reward, on their own, aren’t enough for a new habit to last. Only when your brain starts expecting the reward — craving the endorphins or sense of accomplishment- — will it become automatic to lace up your jogging shoes each morning. The cue, in addition to triggering a routine, must also trigger a craving for the reward to come.

                Applying this mind hack to books, we want to be reading about topics that we can immediately apply to improve our lives. For example, if you’re facing some financial problems, you’ll receive immediate rewards by reading a personal finance book. Or if you’ve just started a new company, then reading books like The Lean Startup or The Business Model Generation may give you immediate benefits.

                Over to you

                Which of these mind hacks do you think will benefit you the most to read more books?
                Is there anything that we missed that you can share with us?

                More by this author

                Sean Kim

                Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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                Last Updated on August 10, 2020

                How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

                How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

                Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

                Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

                Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

                In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

                How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

                Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

                Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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                • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
                • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
                • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
                • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

                If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

                After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

                We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

                Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

                Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

                One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

                These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

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                40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

                All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

                For Changing a Job

                1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
                2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
                3. Get a raise.
                4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
                5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
                6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
                7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
                8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
                9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
                10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

                For Switching Career Path

                1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
                2. Find a mentor.
                3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
                4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
                5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
                6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
                7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
                8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
                9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
                10. Create a financial plan.

                For Getting a Promotion

                1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
                2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
                3. Become a mentor.
                4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
                5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
                6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
                7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
                8. Become a better communicator.
                9. Find new ways to be a team player.
                10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

                For Acing a Job Interview

                1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
                2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
                3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
                4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
                5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
                6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
                7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
                8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
                9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
                10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

                Career Goal Setting FAQs

                I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

                1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

                If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

                If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

                How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

                2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

                Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

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                Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

                Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

                3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

                You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

                Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

                4. Can I have several career goals?

                It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

                On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

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                For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

                Summary

                You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

                • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
                • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
                • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
                • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
                • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

                By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

                More About Setting Work Goals

                Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

                Reference

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