It’s the start of a new year and if you’re like me you’re eager to learn and grow in new directions. The question is which direction and how to do it.
As I step back and examine my daily routine I find myself increasingly looking at a screen of some sorts. It used to be that all I had to be concerned with is controlling how much time I spent in front of a television screen. Now I’m find my day filled looking at the screens on my laptop, tablet and smartphone. I’ve noticed how screen time has effected my attention span and how I read.
I have to put more effort into focusing on what I’m reading when I read an ebook on my tablet or computer. It seems like I’m more distracted as thoughts jump around
. I tend to scan without comprehending the words. In 2016 I’ve decided to emphasize a habit that I’ve tried to cultivate for many years – reading at least one book a month. Why?
I’ve observed that effective leaders are life-long learners and life-long learners are life-long readers.
What’s the big deal about that? “The Pew Research Center reported [in January of 2014] that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. As in, they hadn’t cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audiobook while in the car. The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978.”
It’s quite apparent that the screen time is winning. To encourage you to expand your mind building habits here are 4 Reasons You Should Plan Your Reading in 2016 from Mark Casper’s Blog Sons & Orphans. Mark is a thoughtful writer who loves to read. You might want to check him out.
4 Reasons to Make A Reading Goal for 2016
Here are four quick reasons why you should make a reading goal for the year:
- You’ll Read More Books
It’s a simple fact. If you plan your reading, you’re pretty much guaranteed to read more than you did last year. Why? Because if you take the time to pick out ten or twelve books you really want to read, it’ll create excitement and anticipation. As a result, you’ll spend more time reading! And it will help you push through the slow parts of a book when you’re pumped about the next book on your list.
2. You’ll Read Better Books
Sometimes when I’m in-between books, I’ll just look around the house and see what’s available. This isn’t always a bad strategy, but if you’re young like me, you probably don’t have an extensive collection of books. Therefore, your reading options will be severely limited. Don’t let laziness get in the way of a fruitful reading year. Do some research, figure out which books you want to read, and get your hands on them. If you can’t afford to spend the money to buy them, pick them up at your local library or borrow from a friend.
3. You’ll Be A Better Steward of Your Reading Time
Often when we think about stewardship, we think about money and financial resources. But we forget that time is one of our greatest resources. As I’ve said before, there’s simply not enough time in this life to read all the books in the world. And when you think about the amount of time the average person spends reading, the time is small indeed. Therefore, choose your books wisely.
4. You’ll Be A Better Person & Leader For It
Books have the power to change lives. It’s as simple as that. Malcolm X nailed it on this point: “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” Reading great books can make you a better leader (at home, in the workplace, in your church, in life), a better friend, a better spouse, a better neighbor, a better witness for Christ, and a better lover of people.
My Reading Strategy
Are you convinced but not sure where to start? Feeling overwhelmed? Here’s what I would do.
Pick 12 books to read this year.
That’s one per month–a very doable goal.
Mix it up.
As I’ve said before, my reading strategy is to alternate between old books and newer books. I adopted this model after I heard this quote from C.S. Lewis:
“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”
Additionally, I try to read a wide range of books: children’s books, classic and contemporary literature, business books, Christian books, historical nonfiction, short stories, and poetry.
Try not to read more than a few books at a time.
I typically try to keep it between two to four books, each in a different category listed above. Why? Some days I find myself in the mood for a good story, other days for a solid nonfiction book. It’s good to have options–just not too many or you’ll never finish any of them.
Book Ideas for 2016
Ok, so now that you’ve got a strategy, it’s time to pick your books.
The Gospel Coalition’s Hubworthy Page (see what books have most influenced Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, Russell Moore, Melissa Kruger, and more)
Michael Hyatt’s list of The 37 Best Business Books He’s Ever Read
The New York Times’ List of Best Nonfiction Books of All Time
Remember, you don’t have to stick to your plan exactly. It’s not set in stone. Mine certainly isn’t. But I guarantee you’ll be glad you made one.
So why not?
Why not set a challenging but realistic goal for reading this year?
Why not put reading time in your schedule as a commitment?
Why not do your best to protect those times and not let things of lessor importance steal that precious investment in your leadership?