In my article on Reading for Life, I made the keen case about why you SHOULD read every day, but getting to that point where you are reading every day can be super challenging.
I was never a big reader as a child or in my teens, but since becoming an entrepreneur, I have read hundreds of books and thousands of articles. Not a day goes by when I’m not picking up a book and reading a page or two. I have found that reading has been one of the fundamental key habits of mine that’s brought me tremendous amount of success in business and personal life. I can’t emphasize enough how inspired I feel when I read. It’s almost like an addiction now, I need a shot of it each day to keep me thinking about new and broader concepts in life.
I find that it also gives me an edge over my peers. Having read a book or two on a subject gives me knowledge and information to contribute in discussions, and provid suggestions that are beneficial. When you are beneficial to people then you are valuable, and when you have a value that adds to people’s life and personal growth, they want you around them more.
If reading isn’t your thing and you’d rather listen, many books are now available in audio format. Feel free to get the audios, however there is something magical about reading words printed on a page. It expands your mind and imagination. It’s one of those things only you get to experience and appreciate by doing it yourself.
It isn’t hard to get into the habit of reading. Enjoying reading takes practice and must become a habit in order to stick with you, like brushing your teeth or praying every day. Start out by buying books that sound or look interesting to you. Contrary to the sage advice, JUDGE a book by it’s cover, then take it home with you. Read one page or chapter at a time. Don’t get mad at yourself if it takes you a week to read a chapter, instead, celebrate when each new chapter is completed. Sometimes, writing quick notes about what you learn in each chapter can help keep the information alive in your head longer. These days alhamdulilah I can crunch a book on one plane journey from London to Dubai.
If you’re not a reader right now, don’t worry, you’ll start getting into the habit of reading in not time if you walk yourself through these next four steps. In two months, you will find your life transformed and your relationship with reading greatly improved. Just take it a step at a time.
STEP 1: Overcome your mental blocks.
Say to yourself the following:
- I do not consider reading as a burden.
- I do not have to finish reading an entire book.
- I do not have to read for long hours.
A quick aside: Consider Malcolm X, who became the voice of Black America during the civil rights movement. While in prison it is said that Malcolm X read all the books in the prison library and also transcribed the English dictionary after committing it to memory. Reading has power. Your brain can do so much more than it is doing today. Reading is the key to unlocking its potential.
STEP 2: Get excited about the book you bought through a bit of research
- Identify the topic that you are interested in or you would like to know more about.
- Go to Amazon or your favorite bookstore and search for a book on the topic of interest.
- Buy a book that sounds good and seems like will be an interesting read.
- Read the reviews or ask for advice – it shows you what other people thought after having read it.
A quick aside: sometimes before and during reading a book (especially with heavy historical or technical terms) I’ll do some wikipedia searches on contextual information like meaning of a word or concept to enrich my reading experience.
STEP 3: Choose the time of day you read, and stick with it
- Since we are developing a positive habit, ease of doing it is critical. Setting aside the same time of day will allow for easier habit forming mentality so you can start thinking “No matter what, I’m going to read today at this time.”
- Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour of reading each day.
- Choose a time when you would like to be reading. It can be during your commute to work, breakfast, during a lunch break, or even once you are back home and relaxing on the couch with your feet up.
STEP 4: Keep it up
Staying consistent to your goals is the backbone of positive habit forming activities.
- Keep this habit going for 40 days
- Try to implement what you learn at work or in your personal life.
My moto to reading is: whatever I read I will try and implement – don’t be a bookworm for the sake of being a bookworm. This can mean a variety of different things from a variety of different genres of books. Maybe a work of fiction will teach me a new perspective on death from a disease, so that the next time I see someone with a terminal illness I can have more empathy for their situation. Or maybe I read an interesting book on the history of rice, besides being a great conversational starter, I can have a new appreciation for eating rice.
Over the years I have managed to make reading a daily habit and now I carry a book in my bag, so I can read while I commute. I have a book on my office desk so that in a moment of unfocused work time I can pick up a book for 10 minutes and refocus my energies. At night, as I go to bed, I have a book next to my pillow to get in a few more minutes before bed.
And I always carry a book when traveling long distances. I try my utmost best to read as much as I can during a plane or taxi journey. I find it astonishing to see people watch movies one after another on the inflight entertainment system. This is a missed opportunity to expand your horizons while your are flying over new horizons.
Don’t be discouraged about reading, it takes time to build up a steady routine that keeps you focused on reading. You cannot weigh the amount of information that awaits you inside a book, but if you could, I believe that it would carry the weight of one million worlds.