Over the Christmas break, I wrote down a few goals and plans for 2012. One of those goals was to read 50 books between January and December 2012.
Yesterday, I finished my 49th book. I am inches from reaching my goal. In fact, I should cross that line sometime tonight or Friday.
How did I do it?
First, as I wrote last week, you can gain a lot of momentum in your reading when you choose the RIGHT kind of books to read. For me, I read books on Theology, Philosophy, and Best Practices. This way I am making the most of my time and energy and avoiding books that might not stretch me mentally or professionally.
Secondly, at the outset of the year I listed about 30 books that I wanted to read. Some books on my list are ones that were published in years previously and some are books that I know will be published later this year. Some are books I have always wanted to read but have not had the opportunity. I have since edited and re-edited that list but I believe by laying out a plan and choosing individual titles to read it set me on the path to achieving my goal early. It took the guess work out of choosing my next book and it kept me from blindly groping for any book to read next.
I also make time to read DAILY. On Monday morning when I get to the office it is “all sermon prep, all the time” from the minute I sit down at my desk. This is the day I’m reading scripture, commentaries, articles, you name it in order to prepare for next Sunday’s message. I take a break from around 12-2pm for lunch and a mentoring call. I wrap up my sermon prep for the day and then I make sure to spend about another hour reading from my list. There once was a time when I would have said, “I’ve been reading all day” and I would have made an excuse that I had already “read” for the day. No more. My goal is to read no less than one hour a day. Monday is just an hour. Other days I can get in more. Each day brings with it it’s own troubles and obstacles. If you want to read more books that will develop you personally, intellectually, or spiritually you have to commit to reading each day. No matter what!
The point isn’t for you to read 50 books or 100 or whatever. Reading has impacted my life greatly and I want to see it make a difference in your life. One of my favorite quotes is from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones when he says, “Ten years from now you will be the same, except for the books you read and the people you meet.” If you read one more book this year than you did last year you will be better for it and you will be better equipped to lead those around you. So, ready to set a reading goal? Here are some next steps you can take:
1) Today, make a list of the categories you would like to begin reading. Do you want to read more books on history, more literature, business books, foreign languages? There are thousands of books out there from a thousand different categories. Pick a handful of categories that will help you grow and that you will find enjoyable.
2) Next, list at least 5 books that you want to read in the categories you’ve chosen. Then begin reading from your lists. My list for this year is in Evernote. Next to each book I’ve chosen I have a check box and as I read each book, I check it off the list. Some books, after closer inspection, end up getting dropped from my list or moved down the list in order to make room for something that I need to read or is a better resource. Once your list is in place, you can stop worrying about what your going to read.
3) Pull out your calendar and find at least one hour a day in order to read from your lists. It doesn’t have to be all in one sitting. 30 minutes at lunch and 30 minutes before bedtime is manageable. Instead of watching that 3rd and 4th episode in a row of Diners, DriveIns, & Dives (guilty!), read. You have time to read- I promise. Get creative about making time. Make the hard decisions. Sacrifice the things you love in order to do the things you love more.
Don’t just sit there- get reading!
Question: What is one book you’ve read that you would recommend over and above any other book? (Leave your answer in the comments section.)