5 Tips to Reach Your Reading Goals

by Jacob Abshire on February 16, 2015

My wife and I never help my daughter eat candy. We don’t have to because she loves it. If it’s there, she will take it. She doesn’t need deadlines or challenges. She only needs to reach the candy to consume it.

When it comes to books, this is how I am at heart. Practically speaking, however, I have my days. You know, those days when the “candy” is in gripping reach, you have no desire for sweets. It’s a funny thing.

Last year, I experienced a lot of those moments. I didn’t lose my love for books, but I felt distaste and tiredness towards them. I recall picking up an aesthetically wonderful book with a gripping subject, even feeling warm fuzzies with it in my hand (I call it a book-high), but I never brought myself to read it.

This year, I’m determined to overcome that. I’m setting reading goals. I’m telling myself what to read and when to read it. I’m giving myself deadlines and schedules. I’m recording it on my calendar and creating reminders. I’m helping myself eat books—because my love for them sometimes isn’t enough.

Additionally, I’m giving myself some rules and reminders. And, if you’ve found yourself in the same situation at times, these might help you. I’ll call them “the five tips for accomplishing your reading goals” because I’m too tired to develop something more creative.

Tip #1: Read intentionally.

I should flesh this out for us both. Having reading goals will not quench your love for reading. I think it will deepen it. It’s like putting an exercise fanatic on a schedule and plan. It’s intentional reading. It’s planned enjoyment. It’s being serious about your love. Oh yeah, you like it already.

Tip #2: Read contextually.

I invented (until someone tells me otherwise) contextual reading to solve my retention problem. I often have multiple books in my reading schedule. Sometimes, they overlap subjects and styles, causing me to be confused. I fixed it by only reading books in certain contexts. This gave me a “world” for each book I could easily walk in and out of. Here are some ideas on that.

Tip #3: Read affectionately.

Be honest: some books are just not interesting. We all have our tastes. We all have our seasons. Some books are dull at times. Admit it, and don’t feel bad about it. I used to force myself to finish a book, making me miserable. You too? Stop feeling miserable. It happens. Put the book back on the shelf and find another.

Tip #4: Read quietly.

This one might be hard, but do your best: get somewhere quiet. I know it’s hard. I have four children, and only one has an inside voice. Quiet places are hard to find, but they exist—in your car, backyard, closet, or restroom. Here’s the catch: you have to be quiet, too. Shut your phone off.

Tip #5: Read seriously.

This last tip will hurt you. Shut—the—TV—off. If you’re hardcore, cancel your cable. Maybe everyone in the house will start reading. Or, tell yourself that you must read before bed, after dinner, before breakfast, or whenever the boob tube is stealing your time because it’s time to get serious.

Have any tips to add? I’d love to hear them.

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