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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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