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Last Updated on February 25, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Help You Read More

15 Simple Ways To Help You Read More

Are you able to get through all the reading you planned this year? Do you ever want to read more but don’t seem to have the time?

If you’re wondering how to read more, learn more, and grow faster, here are 15 ways that can help you:

1. Define Your Purpose for Reading

Before you start reading, ask yourself why are you reading this book. Most people read for two main reasons – pleasure or knowledge.

Being specific and clear about your reading purpose not only helps you to eliminate books that you don’t need to read. It also reminds you why reading the book is important to you as you are reading it. This motivates you to keep reading and complete the book faster.

2. Read Only What You Are Attracted to

Whether you are reading fiction or nonfiction, it’s important to enjoy what you read. Your friends may recommend books that they love, but those books might not necessarily be the ones you enjoy.

Don’t read for the sake of reading. Reading shouldn’t be another task in your to-do-list to be checked off. Reading books that you think you “should” read or which you think are good for you will slow down your reading process if you have no interest in it.

Instead, find books that spark your interest and curiosity. You’ll find yourself reading these books faster.

3. Feel Free to Skip Pages

When it comes to reading for personal pleasure and knowledge, you set your own rules. Don’t feel guilty about skipping pages. You don’t need to read all the pages in a book. It’s not cheating!

In fact, skipping pages is more productive. It helps you move through boring or irrelevant parts quicker. You don’t waste time reading something that doesn’t serve you.

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4. Give up Books That You Don’t Enjoy

You may have selected books that are aligned with your purpose. You may have selected books that you are attracted to. But as you are reading them, there may still be some books that you won’t enjoy reading.

Whenever you realize that you aren’t enjoying the book you are reading, give it up. Remember reading shouldn’t be a chore.

Giving up doesn’t mean that you are a quitter. Giving up books that you don’t enjoy reading actually frees up your time for books that you would enjoy.

5. Set a Reading Goal

Having a reading goal helps you figure out how much reading you need to do in a week or even a day.

For example, this year, my reading goal is to read 100 books. Since there are 52 weeks a year, each week I need to read at least 2 books. Having a reading goal allows me to strategize how much time I need to allocate each day for reading and it helps me to decide what information I need from each book.

Instead of dabbling in reading and hoping to find something useful to you, come prepared with a set of reading objectives. This helps you focus on specific parts of the book and find information that is useful to you when reading.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon Ho reads a lot, and hie reading habits will inspire you to read more and learn more efficienty: How I Pick the Right Books to Read to Learn 10X Faster

6. Give Yourself a Deadline to Complete Each Book

Before you read each book, ask yourself when you need to complete this book by.

What I find interesting is that I tend to read books that I borrow from libraries faster than the books I bought. The reason is the books I bought don’t have a due date! I don’t need to return those books. So I can take as long as I want to read those books.

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When you don’t set a deadline to complete your book. There isn’t a sense of urgency. And when something isn’t urgent, you tend to procrastinate and your books get left on the shelves untouched and unread. So setting a deadline is important.

7. Make Reading a Part of Your Daily Routine

If reading is important to you, no matter how busy you are, you will find and schedule time to read.

Making reading a part of your daily routine removes the hassle of finding time each day to read. Allocating a fixed time to read each day reduces procrastination. It’s also easier for others to know your reading schedule and not to disturb you when you are reading.

8. Prepare Your Reading List in Advance

To keep your reading momentum, always have the next book ready. Don’t wait untill you have completed all your books, then find the next book to read. You’ll waste unnecessary time trying to find the next book.

Instead, prepare a reading list in advance. List all the books you want to read. Add books that are recommended by your friends and family. Go to your local bookstores and see what intrigues you. You can also find a list of recommended books suggested by bloggers on their websites.

If you need some inspirations, check out What to Read Next? 30 Inspiring Books That Will Expand Your Mind.

9. Use Your Free Time

Reading in the morning before you start your work or reading at night when you are winding down are the best times to read. At these time, you won’t get caught up in the daily distractions that interrupt your reading.

However, if you want to maximize your reading time, try carrying a book with you wherever you go. There will be times during the day when you are free or waiting in a queue. Use this time to catch up on your reading.

10. Find a Quiet Place

Reading requires focus and concentration. If possible, find a quiet place to read.

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Reading in a quiet environment increases your comprehension. You don’t get disrupted by external noises. You don’t have to reread previous pages and paragraphs to recall what you have just read.

So choose a good environment in which to read. Switch off your phone or put it away. Close your door if necessary. You read more in one hour of focused reading than in three hours of interrupted reading.

11. Get Some Context First, If Possible

Sometimes, if you watch the trailer, read the synopsis or follow some of the online content that the author has been providing, you are able to get into the author’s world much faster.

You won’t have to spend as much time establishing the context or understanding the characters in the beginning.

12. Read for Meaning, Not Words

Have you experienced times when you are just reading words, but not comprehending anything that the book says?

Reading a book word by word isn’t an effective way to read. Some words such as “a”, “an” and “the” don’t add any meaning to what you read. Your brain is smarter than you think it is. With just a few important words, your brain can devise meanings and comprehend what the author is saying by tapping on your prior knowledge and experience.

Furthermore, reading word by word is boring unless you are reading to appreciate the author’s use of language. Instead, allow your eyes to scan the page and pick up words that help you form meanings.

13. Read in Layers

Reading in layers is especially useful for nonfiction readers. Instead of reading your book once through in detail, read your book with multiple passes. 

So for example, your first pass could be just browsing the book, reading the content page and some of the headers to get the overall big picture first. Then your second pass could be selecting specific sections of the book you need more detail in and zooming in on them.

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Before you start each pass, decide if you need more detail. Sometimes, you are able to comprehend the information without needing to read the examples. Other times, some information might not apply to you now. So you don’t need to read everything in detail.

14. Keep an Open Mind While Reading

Don’t critique the author while you are reading the book. Arguing with the author as you read lowers your comprehension. You can always disagree with the author after you have completed the book.

Also, spotting grammar and spelling mistakes while you read slows down your reading process. Although constant bad grammar could affect your reading, small grammar and spelling mistakes hardly affect your comprehension at all.

Again, ask yourself what the purpose of reading this book is. Are you reading for pleasure and knowledge or are you reading to proofread or critique the book?

15. Read Several Books At a Time

This sounds counterproductive. But it works well if you are doing research or want to accumulate knowledge on a topic fast.

When I was writing my book, Fearless Passion, I read several books about passion at the same time. Some books have similar information. I just picked one book that clearly explained the information I needed and skipped the rest. Reading several books at once also allows me to receive different points of view on the same topic quicker.

Even if you are reading fiction books, you can also read books in the same series at the same time. That will help you retain information about the plot and characters.

More Reading Tips

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Yong Kang Chan

Self-Help Author (Writes about Self-Compassion and Mindfulness)

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Last Updated on October 29, 2020

How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

Are you the kind of person who wants to achieve massive success in your life? Do you have the mental toughness to make that happen?

I think we can all agree that no matter your ambitions, achieving success can be difficult; and over time, the daily grind can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

Achievers and high performers from all walks of life face ups and downs along the path to success—they face failure, burnout, discouragement, fatigue, self-limiting beliefs, stress, and so much more.

How do some people continually strive towards their personal goals year after year while others give up on them? How do those people stay strong and persevere when there is so much stacked against them?

Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to success. If you haven’t read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, you should. In it, she shows that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.’” In other words, mental toughness plays a significant role when it comes to achieving goals.

At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when the going gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success, while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their dreams.

The good news is that no matter who you are, what you’ve been told, or what you currently believe, you can develop the mental toughness you need to be successful.

1. Develop a Positive Mindset

If you’re going to increase your mental toughness and manage stress, the first thing you have to do is focus on building a strong, positive mindset in everyday life.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% of those thoughts repeat each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.[1]

That’s roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day!

Carrying around these negative thoughts is like going on a hike in the mountains with a backpack full of rocks. The hike is hard enough on its own, but having extra junk weighing you down is a recipe for failure.

Sometimes, building mental toughness isn’t as much about building new strength as it is about saving your strength for the right tasks. Wouldn’t it be easier to dump the rocks out of the backpack instead of trying to get strong enough to carry the extra weight?

Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs

It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. Here are some examples:

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“I’m not smart enough to…”

“I don’t have enough experience to…”

“I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…”

When we allow these self-limiting beliefs to flood our minds, negative self-talk runs rampant, and we crowd out our ability to think positively.

When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true, and then back that up with some positive affirmations:

  • “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”
  • “I may not have as much experience as someone else, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have enough experience to get started. I’ll figure the rest out on the way.”
  • “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”

Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Thinking

Another form of negative thinking that could be preventing you from building mental toughness is all-or-nothing thinking.

All-or-nothing thinking is the concept of thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was great or awful. If you’re not perfect, then you’re a failure.

But this isn’t true!

If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and only lost 28, isn’t that still better than not losing any weight at all? I’d say so!

If you allow all-or-nothing thinking to rule your mind, you’ll be on cloud nine when you succeed, but you’ll beat yourself up when you “fail.” Acknowledging the shades of gray in between will allow you to see success more often.

When you recognize an all-or-nothing thought, remember to look for the positive in the situation. What did you gain by trying? What would you have missed out on had you not tried? Could you do better if you were to try again?

Ditch the Dwelling

Self-limiting beliefs and all-or-nothing thinking can lead to a bad case of dwelling on the negative, which is bad news for mental health. If you want to build some mental toughness and keep your mind strong, you have to ditch the dwelling.

When we dwell on our misfortunes, we waste massive amounts of energy that we could be using to achieve our goals. When this happens, we’re more likely to quit altogether.

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That doesn’t mean you’re not mentally tough; it just means you’re misusing your energy.

The next time something bad happens, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the disappointment and frustration, but work on reducing the amount of time you dwell on the situation.

If you struggle with this, you can try the following:

  1. Call a friend or mentor and talk it through with them. Get some outside perspective on your situation.
  2. Time block your dwelling by allowing yourself to dwell for no more than one hour.
  3. Then, tell yourself to move on, that you’re human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes or experience setbacks.
  4. If all else fails, find a good way to distract yourself until you can calm down and reexamine things with a clear mind.

The faster you can focus on the positives and move past the problem, the quicker you can get back to achieving success in your life.

2. Connect With Your Purpose

One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong “why” for all of your short and long-term goals.

If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a “why” for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback.

Think about the last time you were working on a goal or resolution, and things weren’t going well. Perhaps you thought you didn’t have enough willpower or discipline.

It’s more likely that you just didn’t have a strong enough why.

Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe.[2] In short, he says that:

“Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”

One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is pursuing a goal or a task that you don’t have a why for. Often, we set goals because we like the idea of the goal, not the reality of the goal. Without connecting to our why, we can’t intrinsically motivate ourselves to achieve our most challenging goals.

You can learn more on identifying your purpose in this video:

Find Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is our innate desire to do something, and it comes when we work towards something that satisfies ourselves above all else—not our parents or our bosses or our teachers[3].

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Develop mental toughness with intrinsic motivation

    Let’s say you think you want to quit smoking because you know it’s bad for you, but you really enjoy smoking. If you don’t truly want to quit smoking, it’s going to be nearly impossible, regardless of your willpower or mental toughness.

    However, if you want to quit smoking because you just had a baby, and you don’t want your baby growing up around smoke, then that “why” is going to give you intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than sheer stubborn willpower, and it’s far easier to maintain over the long haul.

    If you’re trying to develop mental toughness, connecting a why to everything you want to achieve will reduce the effort and energy it will take to achieve those things.

    3. Find Strength in Unity

    The final aspect of developing mental toughness is embracing the idea that you’re not in this alone.

    Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft alone. Oprah didn’t build her network by herself. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone without a team. Michelle Obama didn’t implement the “Let’s Move” campaign on her own.

    Behind all of these successful people were countless other people who were offering support, mentorship, guidance, and encouragement.

    If you want to develop unmatched mental toughness, you need to understand that you don’t have to go it alone. Even the toughest Navy Seals have a team backing them up.

    Find a Mentor or Committee of Mentors

    The benefits of having a great mentor are far too many to list, but to boil it down to the basics, a mentor is someone who will help show you the path to success, discover your greatest strengths, spot and overcome your blind spots, and work through your weaknesses.

    If you’re struggling to deal with your internal negativity or with finding your purpose, talk it through with a mentor. Sometimes we lose the forest for the trees, and a mentor can help us take a step back and see the bigger picture.

    Here’s how to find the right mentor for yourself: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

    Recruit Some Cheerleaders

    If you want to stay strong, it never hurts to have a group of personal cheerleaders to help you successfully complete your goals. Unlike mentors who are going to jump in and help you address your problems, a group of cheerleaders will help keep your spirits up.

    Even if you have a strong why and a positive mindset, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time. It doesn’t make you weak to need some help from time to time. Having a group of people cheering you on will make all the difference in the world.

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    As you work towards your goals, tell a few close friends about what you’re doing, and when things get tough, tell them about it. When they give you the pep talk you need, don’t resist their positivity or counter it with your self-limiting beliefs.

    Allow their optimism to refill your energy and use that energy to press on.

    Form an Accountability Group

    Cheerleaders are great, but sometimes we need someone to give us the kick we need to keep going. You might have a strong why for running a marathon or losing 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; and trying to force yourself to follow through is a sure way to tax your mental energy.

    Why not save some of your mental energy by forming an accountability group?

    Find a person or a few people who have similar goals, or at the very least, the need for an accountability partner. Then, form an agreement within the group to push each other every day.

    4. Learn to Pick Yourself up After Setbacks

    Building a strong mindset and developing mental toughness isn’t easy! Anyone who’s ever achieved massive success knows that obstacles, setbacks, and failure are inevitable, and you’re no different.

    As you work on your goals, you’re going to face many ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have mental toughness, willpower, or discipline.

    When you find yourself in a low spot, instead of giving up right away, ask yourself these questions:

    • “Am I being too hard on myself?”
    • “Are negative thoughts distorting my view?”
    • “What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
    • “Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
    • “Is this goal still important to me?”
    • “Who can I ask for help? Who can mentor me or hold me accountable?”

    Asking yourself these questions is a great way to check in on your mindset. When we get lost in negative thinking or lose connection to our purpose, it’s far too easy to become discouraged.

    This article provides some useful tips to help you get back on track: How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

    Tying It All Together

    A crucial part of developing mental toughness is learning to recognize negative tendencies and taking action to correct them early on with healthy habits. Developing mental toughness is not about eliminating weakness, but learning how to deal with it and overcome it.

    No one is perfect, but when we focus on the right things, we can develop a mental toughness worthy of life’s biggest challenges.

    More on Developing Mental Strength

    Featured photo credit: Zulmaury Saavedra via unsplash.com

    Reference

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