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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

More by this author

Justin Miller

Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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