With the start of a new year come the endeavors of goals and ambitions that go beyond the means and motivations of those who plan them. Yet, having something to aim for throughout the year is not necessarily bad if it helps to guide and direct individuals beyond what they would otherwise do. Still in the start of the new year, some are still making plans and setting goals in varying disciplines. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider yet another worthy aim for any given year. That goal? Read more books.
Such a theme is worthwhile for the Christian life. Books, by their nature, impart instruction and teaching so that readers can be informed. Whether it be informed about Scripture, informed about the world around us, or simply informed about the culture and thinking of individuals, books can be used by God to cause personal growth and a deep thinking. Therefore, reading more for the upcoming year is not merely about reading, but is meant to stimulate growth. If that is the hope, then the goal is respectable and meaningful.
There is a routine question from readers that states, “How do I read more books?” One answer is simply by setting a goal to read more. Goal-setting adds a different level of motivation not available elsewhere. Thus, even if you do not meet your goal, you may read more than what you would have otherwise, or even still may read more than you had previously.
However, the goal you set must follow some key guidelines, not because they are ‘required’ for it to be a goal, but because those guidelines help you to set better goals. First, the goal must be specific. Don’t say, “My goal is to read more this year.” Such a comment is vague and could mean more books, more pages, or spend more time reading. Therefore, I would recommend stating a goal with a specific number of books or pages (sometimes pages is a better way to go because it keeps something consistent; for example a person could read 3 books of 500 pages or 10 books of 50 pages each, and while the 10 books sounds impressive, it’s not necessarily more reading, unless you factor the depth of each book which adds another level). But we digress. The point is to make a specific goal.
Take that specificity further and increase it from the previous year. Give yourself an opportunity to improve and do more. For myself, I keep track of both the number of books and the number of pages I read in a given year. Then as I set specific targets for the current year, I utilize both the pages and the books and try to meet both.
Finally, be reasonable. If you read ten books last year, try to read twelve this year. If you read 4,000 pages last year, try to read 5,000 this year. If you read less than a book a month last year, don’t expect to be able to read two or three books a month this year. Therefore, it’s important to be realistic. The amount of reading you did in a previous time period reflects the amount of time you were able to invest in the task and so you shouldn’t expect that to change by a significant amount unless you’ve had a major change in your life (such as retirement).
For many people, setting a reading goal can be difficult. Often times, a person has no idea what is a reasonable goal. So consider the following. Based upon average reading speed and the average length of a book, if a person reads 60 minutes a day, that person can complete about a book a week. Perhaps 60 minutes is too much of a commitment though. Then cut it back to what is doable for you. At 30 minutes a day, that’s about 26 books in a year. If you’re super busy, even 15 minutes a day is a book a month, and certainly most of us can find 15 minutes of time, whether it be waiting in line at the doctor’s office to finding 15 minutes before you go to bed.
In subsequent years, how can you read more books? By providing motivation through the active setting of goals for your reading. A simple goal of a book a month combined with a dedication of a few minutes a day can provide a lifetime of enjoyment and learning.