As we are coming to the end of 2022, it is only natural that you may be thinking about the year ahead and about setting a reading goal. Are you the kind of person to set yourself a challenge? Do you prefer to go with the flow? These are important things to know about yourself in order to manage your motivation.
With this discussion post, there is no right or wrong answer. On the contrary, it is all about understanding what is best for you! I hope this post helps you to consider what works best for you.
Like having a goal to aim for? Set yourself a reading challenge!
At the beginning of the year, I usually set myself a reading challenge. In the history of my blog, there is one exception to that rule, and that was an exceptional time. Even then, I don’t think my choice of not setting a goal helped me in the long run. It felt good at the time because I felt liberated. Unfettered. Free of expectation. However, as the year went on, I effectively allowed the status quo to continue, even when I had the capacity to get back into reading more. I had lost the habit of picking up a book.
I like having a goal to work towards. It is funny – my blog and my reading are the only facets in my life in which I really set myself goals (outside of work anyway). Otherwise, I am very laissez-faire. However, as proven to myself during the year in which I didn’t set myself a reading goal, I need one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an ambitious goal to motivate me. But, having a number to work towards effectively helps me schedule my time and manage expectations. The year I didn’t set a number was my ‘worst’ by far. Compare my 2020 wrap-up with my 2021 wrap-up post and you will see what I mean.
I recently watched a short motivational video about writing a book, but the underlying principle is the same. The lesson stuck with me. The speaker was talking about how people will take as long as they allow themselves to complete a job. For example, if you give yourself three months to complete a task, you will use the whole three months to do it. If you give yourself a week, you’ll do the exact same task in a week. It’s a psychological mindset thing.
For some people, not setting yourself a goal and effectively having a timeless task can be detrimental. In 2021, I didn’t set myself a reading goal, but I fully envisaged that I would still read the same amount. It probably won’t shock you that I didn’t. As soon as I started setting goals again, I got back on track.
Want to maintain a habit?
Setting a goal doesn’t have to be setting yourself a challenge. If you comfortably read 20 books a year, you could set yourself a goal to effectively maintain that standard.
For example, one of the goals I am considering setting myself next year relates to maintaining the habit of reading every day. It doesn’t have to be for very long, and this is not a difficult goal to achieve. It’s not meant to be.
Even if you set out to read a chapter every day, or for just 10 minutes… it all adds up. My reading habit and my blog wouldn’t be here today if not for a change in my lifestyle in 2017. That change resulted in my picking up a book before bed every night. Initially, it was only a temporary arrangement as a result of circumstance. I started taking a book to bed to read for half an hour. Even after my circumstances returned to normal, I continued to read before bed. By the end of April, I’d read 20 books – more than I had read in the last several years combined. That is how reading became a habit for me.
Setting yourself a goal if this type means that whatever it is you are trying to do is important to you. However, it can also help promote a healthy balance. I have found in my experience that after reading too much, my other hobbies suffer. In the end, my reading suffers because I over-compensate for not doing other things by doing just the other things.
Maybe goals just aren’t for you
I’m not going to say that setting a reading goal suits everybody. I’m sure it doesn’t! Just because I don’t categorise myself as one of these people, it doesn’t mean that you don’t exist. If you don’t like having a reading goal, that is entirely up to you. It is perfectly okay to enjoy a hobby with no strings or obligations attached.
If you are the kind of person who doesn’t set reading goals, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not going to profess that this works for me and that I understand this approach. I proved that the year I didn’t set any reading goals for myself.
If you don’t set yourself reading goals, is there anything else you do instead? I’d love to hear from you to add to the conversation!
Have you set yourself a reading goal? Do you have a reading goal for 2023?