Advertising
Advertising

Reading With Purpose Can Change Your Life

Reading With Purpose Can Change Your Life

As a person working in the advancing, quickly moving online industry, I always try to take the time to slow down and get lost in a book. Yes, there are many resources where I can get information instantly. But these little tid-bits of information filter through, and get lost in the abyss of the subconscious. It leaves me feeling empty, because regardless of the constant flow of information, it’s hard to have a firm grasp on any of it.

There is so much out there distracting us between entertainment, media, and social networks. Our attention is constantly getting interrupted. We tend to choose these little crumbs of instant gratification over the true gratification of indulging yourself in a fine piece of literature.

But when I read, I give myself fully to the book. Whether it’s a story, autobiography, or informative piece, I still allow it to take me elsewhere. I put myself in a frame of mind where I am involved with the processes being described, and am able to get a firmer grasp of the information being shared.

Advertising

If your brain does not have to process the information presented, then the information will be lost. So actually reading that small excerpt will ultimately be a waste of time. But if you focus your attention and take an interest in the fact or scenario at hand, such as when you are reading a book, it is likely you won’t forget it.

Reading is the only way you can travel without leaving

Search engines are my best friend. I consult Google countless times a day, and I will bet that you do too. But these tools are designed to help you to solve the most common or shallow issues. When it comes to issues such as life decisions or interpersonal problems, a search engine cannot provide you with a solution that is solid and useful. It can direct you to some archives from people who may have similar experiences, but even those answers are typically shallow and just convey that someone else has the same issue.

In a book, you are able to work through the issues alongside the main character, almost as if you are processing through it yourself in real life. That is, because you are in a way. Whenever this issue arises in the future, you will know exactly how to handle it because you have already experienced that frame of mind.

Advertising

Reading is the only way that you can travel without actually going anywhere. It is the only way that you can experience someone else’ life while still remaining yourself. It gives you the opportunity to “mentally travel” as you picture the places and people being described. You are able to experience the hardships of people from a culture very different from yours, understanding how they perceive and handle life. Experience it as your own pain and joy as well because you are a part of the journey.

You can get that sense of transcendence from movies as well. In a sense, yes. If you really throw yourself into the plot and imagine yourself as a part of the story it is possible. But so much is lost because the film makers have already visualized the ideas and feelings for you.

Reading is an investment that will leave your mind rich

Committing to a book is certainly a test of will. The average book will take between 5-10 hours to finish depending on your reading speed and interest in the material. 10 hours is a lot of time, make sure it is spent wisely.

Advertising

If you are truly invested in the material, you will absorb and internal the information without even realizing it. Many of us don’t have 10 hours to spend reading, nor could our eyes and minds stay focused for that long. So breaking it up into 1 or 2 hour sessions is just fine, as long as you stay consistent.

Keep it in mind that if you take too long of breaks in between reading sessions, you are going to forget the previous material and need to backtrack. Think about how often you can remember things you read a month ago? When you are not reading constantly , not only will you lose focus and interest, you will have to pay much effort to reconnect the bits and pieces in your mind. It’s better for you to adjust your reading time so you will be committed to read every day.

Ready to take the mental adventure again? Here are some mental notes to find the right book

There are loads of books covering the same topic, so you have lots of options to find one that really appeals to you. You just need to find the genre and writing styles that you prefer, and it is a bit of a snowball effect from there!

Advertising

I have grouped books into 3 categories that you can choose from based on the benefits that can be attained from reading them:

1. Pick something that can strengthen your skills

These are packed with knowledge that are consolidate over the years as you read on about this topic or trade. There is scientific evidence that reading for 1 hour per day about a particular field will make you an expert on the subject within 7 years.

2. Go through success stories and learn about the struggles and failures

These will walk you through the challenges and struggles faced by some of your most successful idols. It will help you to humanize the process and realize that the head haunchos are really just people, and they falter too. And now you can get an insider’s perspective of how they turned their obstacles into opportunity.

3. Allow yourself to experience lives that are completely different from yours

The best thing about reading is that you can vicariously live lives that aren’t your own. This will give you insight on other’s life experiences, and help you to be more understanding about people. Reading about the process of other people’s struggles and experiences will help you to prepare yourself in the event that something similar happens to you in the future.

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy How Your Attitude Determines Your Success How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over? Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Trending in Restore Energy

1 15 Brain Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly to Keep Your Mind Sharp 2 How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier 3 Is It Possible to Repay Your Sleep Debt? Why Being Well Rested Matters 4 The Importance of Deep Sleep for Your Mind and Body and How to Get It 5 9 Natural Remedies for Insomnia to Help You Achieve Quality Sleep

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

Advertising

But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

Advertising

The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

Advertising

I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

Advertising

More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

Read Next