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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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Last Updated on June 18, 2018

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

Video Summary

Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

Sitting Is the New Smoking

Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

    Sit Properly

    If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

    Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

      Credit: StayWow

      Stand Up More

      Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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      Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

      Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

      Or get a standing desk.

      One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

      Exercise for Lower Back Pain

      Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

      But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

      The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

      Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

      Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

      This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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      Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

      Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

      There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

      Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

      I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

      Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

      If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

      Where to Start

      The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

      Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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      If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

      Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

      Keep a straight back.

      Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

      Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

      I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

      If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

      Stay Away From the Back Pain League

      Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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