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How to Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks and Save Yourself $21,000

How to Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks and Save Yourself $21,000

It’s a bittersweet day for me today; my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge is over. Last night I just wrapped up The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, and as I finished the last page, I couldn’t believe how fast this past year went, It felt like I had just started this challenge the other day.

Regardless, I wanted to share with you how to read 52 books in 52 weeks and why I feel like I saved myself 21,000 dollars in the process. So grab a drink (and by drink I mean water or coffee—it’s still early and there’s a good chance you’re at work), stay a while, and I hope you enjoy the read.

Why even read 52 books in 52 weeks?

Interesting little fact: I had never read a book in its entirety until I was 22 (I think) years old. It was my junior year at Cal State Fullerton when I finished reading Money Ball by Michael Lewis. Soon after, I came to realize that this reading thing wasn’t so bad, as long as I choose books that I was actually interested in (damn you required reading in school). The very next day I was on to book #2 in my reading career and I officially crowned myself a bookworm.

What’s the point right? Why bother trying to read a book a week for a year? It’s pretty time-consuming and most of us lead busy lives and have other more important commitments to attend to. What could one possibly get from reading 52 books this next year?

1. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas: It helps me to generate ideas for not only this website, but for my life as well.
2. Knowledge/education: If you don’t use it you lose it (your brain, that is). It allows me to constantly keep learning about topics that interest me.
3. Helps me teach: Like many of you, I am passionate about teaching. The more I read, the more confidence I have in the ability to relay that information to others in hopes of helping them with their struggles.
4. It’s a challenge: Who doesn’t love a good challenge? We should always be doing something that pushes us in some way. Challenges help to build internal motivation, confidence, discipline, and willpower.
5. It’s cheaper than school: More on this later, but aside from 52 books costing me about 500 bucks in total, a college education would have cost me $21,000. Plus I got to learn about subjects I was particularly interested in. What I’ve learned in one year of reading far outweighs what I learned in four… make that eight (grad school) years of formal education.
6. Gets you out of your box: It gets you thinking outside of your comfort zone. You will be subject to new ideas, theories, and beliefs that require you to really evaluate how you currently do things and see the world.
7. The best teachers: You get access to some of the best minds and most successful teachers… for about 10-20 bucks—the greatest deal of all time.
8. Better relationships: Reading as allowed me to build better social relationships. I feel like it makes me more interesting, as I can talk about a bunch of different subjects now, and that makes for interesting conversation starters.
9. It’s just f-ing awesome: I repeat—it’s just f-ing awesome!

This list could easily keep going, but these were some of the things I felt should be shared with y’all… yup, dropping a y’all on you.

The “why” continued…

One of the main reasons I decided to take part in this challenge is because I’m a little disappointed in our educational system; now, I don’t want to turn this post into a debate about whether or not you or your kids should go to college because you or they should.

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Formal education:

1. Provides you with a place to learn and understand how to learn.
2. Generates ideas.
3. Creates strong social relationships and allows you to make friends.
4. Teaches you a new language—by that I mean the language of the subject you are learning (i.e. business, psychology, philosophy, fashion, etc.).

The main problem I see is that I’m not sure your ROI (return on investment), or more importantly your ROT (return on your time), makes sense anymore.

  • The average in-state public tuition is now an average of $22,261
  • The average private school will run you $43,289

These costs include tuition, housing, meals, books, supplies, miscellaneous, and of course “fees”, which are never broken down for you; they are just lumped together. Fees usually include internet access, library access, parking, ID cards, a student union membership, diplomas and graduation expenses, etc. Room and board is even up about 65% over the last 10 years; It now averages about $9,200 in public schools and $10,600 in private schools.

I recently read a great article written by Mark Cuban asking if your college is going out of business where he compares major universities to the newspaper industry.

“…accumulating too much debt, mostly in the form of construction. Just look on any college campus, there are easily 2-3 new buildings going up at anyone time. Which typically offer little no now value in terms of better education. It just makes the campus look pretty as a selling point. A beautiful campus is great, but so what. You’re there to learn.”

  • Administrators are often making upwards to $200,000 or more.
  • Are intro classes and general education units really necessary considering the cost of them?
  • Most kids are now left with debt they will have for the better part of their lives.
  • Most people still don’t know what they want to do with their lives after they’re are done, or don’t find happiness and fulfillment in what they went to school for.

This is another reason I wanted to take on the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge: I wanted to see how feasible it would be to actually complete the challenge and then weigh it’s ROI and ROT versus that of a traditional college education.

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How to actually read 52 books in 52 weeks

I apologize for the little rant up there but I felt it was necessary to explain one of the main reasons for taking on the challenge. Now for what you all really want to know: how you can do this too. It’s a lot easier than you think, and the great thing about this is that you can use it for anything you want to achieve. Playing piano, learning a new language, learning to dance.

1. Set it up as a S.M.A.R.T goal: This acronym has a million different meanings, and the way you define it is completely up to you. Some examples can be seen below, and make sure to visit this post and this one as well on limitless that talk about achieving goals.

S: Specific, significant
M: Measureable, meaningful
A: Acheiveable, action-oriented
R: Rewarding, realistic
T: Time-based, trackable

2. Choosing a book: I would choose which book I would be reading that week every Saturday night. I chose books based on recommendations from friends, mentors, or just my own personal interests in subjects I wanted to to learn about, and I tried my best to read a variety of subjects in order to get better at being human.

3. Shrinking the change: Thinking about reading a book every week for a year can be a bit overwhelming, but I made it less so by taking the number of pages in the book I was reading and dividing it by the number of days I would be reading that week.

I decided that I wanted to read 6 days a week and take one day off to let my brain chill, so a 300 page book divided by 6 days was only 50 pages per day. This was a much more manageable task, and less overwhelming.

4. Made an appointment with myself: I chose a specific time to read my pages every single day; an appointment with myself that I would not allow to be broken. Now, I have to be honest, I didn’t always read at this time but I was pretty darn close to it.

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I decided that the best time for me to read my pages was first thing in the morning, so I started waking up a little bit earlier to get it in. I chose the morning because I know myself, and the later in the day the less likely I would have the desire, energy, or willpower to do what was required to achieve this goal.

If you have something you are trying to achieve, I highly suggest doing it first thing in the morning, whether it’s exercise, cooking meals, or working on a side business.

5. Gave myself breaks: Not every book I read was 300 pages long. Some were longer (Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was over 700) and some where shorter (As a Man Thinketh was less than 100). The challenge was a grind and constantly reading longer books was taking its toll, so I wanted to make sure I stayed consistent; by choosing a few shorter reads, I was able to stay with the challenge without sacrificing quality content. (*note Titan was read over a few weeks while finishing others)

6. Be ready at all times: I carried my iPad or a copy of the book with me at all times, even if I had already read my pages earlier in the day; I would sneak in some extra reading at anytime I could. Bathroom breaks, sitting in the DMV, waiting for a gal pal to get ready to go out, in-between caching sessions. I was always ready to read.

7. I chose things I actually cared about: If you are reading this site then we probably have one thing in common: we’re both interested in getting better at being human beings. I made sure to choose books that I felt would help me to learn about that core concept.

Personal favorites, what I got out of the challenge, and a question for you

In this guy’s opinion, I learned more about life, success, philosophy, myself, other people, and the world around me in one year of reading then I have in my entire 8-year career in school. I fully enjoyed every single moment of it because not only I was doing something I felt was contributing to my own personal development, but was also allowing me to share valuable information with others that could help them as well.

It’s so hard to choose favorites, here are five that I would suggest putting on your list.

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1. The 80/20 Principle: The secret to achieving more with less
2. Buddhism – Plain and Simple (regardless of your religious beliefs Just an amazing outlook on life)
3. The Greatest Miracle in The World & The Greatest Salesman in The World (read back to back)
4. The power of habit. Why we do what we do in life.
5. Willpower, rediscovering the greatest human strength

ok… one more :) The Fear Project

It’s possible

There are so many amazing resources available to us today that make self-education not only possible, but maybe even a preferred method of learning. Your return on investment and time far outweighs that of formal education, though, you may not get a nice piece of paper that validates your efforts.

Take advantage of these:

Skillshare
Udemy
The Personal MBA
Philospher’s Notes
Khan Academy
University of the People
Code Academy
MIT open courseware

There are a lot of passionate individuals out there who are removing personal limitations, taking big risks, and using the resources that are available to them. The next big thing might be right around the corner like this or this. And who knows? You may be the one who creates it.

resources: college data.comIs your college going bankrupt?-CNN money

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Justin Miller

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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