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How To Cultivate A Better Reading Habit in 2020 and Stick To It

Everyone knows the potent power that books hold. One good book is usually more than enough to bring anyone to embody the identity of a reader and read more. Reading is probably one of the most excellent ways of gaining knowledge and widen your perspectives about this complicated world. The problem is, most of us find it hard to stick to the reading habit.


This 2020, make your year a fruitful one by cultivating better reading habits, and stick to them; here’s how:

girl reading in bed
Image: Sofia Clara

Consistency is Key

Most people usually set a target of a certain amount of books they want to read in a year; but chances are, you don’t know how long it takes for you to complete one. That is why you should aim for consistency instead. It will set you up for success in sticking with the reading habit compared to setting the number of books that you want to read. If you’re keen on setting a goal this year, aim for a daily check-in such as ‘reading for thirty minutes in a day’ or ‘read 20 pages per day’.

Know this; you can get to the goals in mind by sticking to the system that you set for yourself, but you don’t necessarily reach your goal if you only have the intention. Perhaps James Clear said it better.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear, the author of Atomic Habit
That does not decrease the usefulness of goals; setting goals is the act of directing you to the right path, it is not something that you should be obsessed with, but rather the process and the system to get to the goals. So, instead of dreaming of reading up to 30 books in a year, set your brain straight to the daily task that you need to adhere to. This way, you will make it believable and achievable to your brain.
If you stick to the mantra of reading for half an hour every morning, you’ll finish 300-400 pages of book in 15 days.
In a year, you will finish 24 books.

The math says 24, but you will probably end up reading more books than that. Here’s why.


Take Baby Steps

person reading on the train

It is more important to start small than to beat yourself to the point where you are satisfied with your performance. Remind yourself this — life is a marathon, not a sprint. Especially with establishing any habits such as reading, you should aim for permanent changes rather than spurts of changes.
Here, we’ve put together a little timeline to better illustrate the point. Chronologically, this is what happens if you stick to the reading regime, as per the example in the above.
  • 1st day – you read for 30 minutes first thing in the morning.

  • 66th day – you would’ve reached a point in which your brain has picked up the habit, and little willpower is needed to pick up the book because you are already used to it. Along those days, you have improved your comprehension while reading. You have picked up a way to turn off the vocalisation in your brain (this is one way to speed up your reading time) and also minimised the distraction of your looping thoughts, resulting in less time to read one page.

  • 66th day onwards – instead of being able to finish 20 pages in 30 minutes, you can finish 40 pages in 30 minutes.

You would’ve also noted the changes in your relationship with books. In a day, you looked for ways to read more. While you’re waiting in the queue or while commuting, you pull out a book and read. These small minutes here and there resulted in a total of reading time of 90 minutes in a day, you can then finish one book in about a week or less.
If the habit persists, you would’ve read more than 24 books by the end of the year.

But reading is not about the most quantity of books that you can finish in a year though, it is more than that.


Practice What You Read

friends reading together

Perhaps you think reading a certain number of books is impressive even for your own sake of unlocking new achievements. Truth is, in the end, it won’t really matter if you don’t practice what you read.

Quality of reading is more important than the number of books that you read.
As you read more books, you will know what is important­ — the application of the knowledge from the book.
“Knowledge is power: You hear it all the time, but knowledge is not power. It’s only potential power. It only becomes power when we apply it and use it. Somebody who reads a book and doesn’t apply it, they’re at no advantage over someone who is illiterate.” – Jim Kwik
As you accumulate these ideas and lessons you get from the books, you will find reading much more rewarding than meeting the book count. In the long run­ — because you love reading so much­ — the habit starts permeating your everyday activities, you will look for ways to read effectively, retain information better, and even indulge in the debates of what makes an excellent reading process.
It is definitely a long way to go until you find reading an essential part of your life, but don’t let that scare you from picking up the habit. In the earlier stage, don’t worry about whether you’re doing the reading right. You should be focusing on picking up the habit of reading by staying consistent with it. As soon as you get through the first wave of boulders, everything will fall into place.
Try it for yourself! For every day this year, make it a point to read for 20-30 minutes, commit to the system, and fall in love with the act of reading in the process. That is a sure way to cultivate and stick to a better reading habit.

Above all, have fun! It is only when you find joy in what you do that you have the motivation to stick to it. Best of luck!

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