No time? Listen to it instead
Last year, I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge to twenty-four books. I was going to be on a gap year, and I figured the timing was perfect for reviving the long-dead reading habit once again. I ended up reading thirty books last year.
The New Challenge
Inspired by my success, I set a goal to read 52 books when the Reading Challenge began for this year. I wasn’t on a gap anymore, though. That’s partly the reason why it went wrong. However, there’s a more significant reason as to why I only managed to read twelve books by June.
It wasn’t for the lack of regularity for I’ve been reading almost every day barring say, a month of not being able to do it since January.
As the dates closed in, and as the x in Goodreads’ “you need to read x books per week to complete your challenge” kept rising, I started to realise some intriguing changes in my reading behaviour.
So, every time I noticed something peculiar in my behaviour when it came to reading, I put it in a note on my phone. Here’s what the list looked like after some time.
- Picked up a shorter book despite liking the longer one more. - Reading three books at the same time. - Reading constantly every free five minutes I get. - Got angry that I couldn't read. - Frowned when my boss gave me the Origin of Species. - Skipped the appendix of The Fountainhead.
I stopped enjoying the act of reading because I was getting too competitive and obsessive about it. Every reading decision I made was smart because I had to save time, quickly complete books, and so on. I just wanted to be back on track. Tracking it wasn’t the problem, though.
The problem was that tracking my reading is not aligned with my core values.
Reading is one of the few things that I enjoy just because I do. There’s no reason as to why or no further need to look into it. There’s just the act.
Two Kinds Of Activities
That is when I realised that each of us has two kinds of things that we do.
- Plan first; do later: The things we’d be better with planning and measuring. For me, those could be workouts, sleep, tasks during the day, and so on.
- Do first; measure later: The things we’d be better with feeling. For me, that is reading, taking a walk, conversation.
The list would be entirely different for everyone. Some people might do better with measuring their reading, for example. I realised that it doesn’t work for me. It is up to us to divide our activities.
When I looked hard, I realised that the six books that helped me cross my goal last year were also hand-picked to be short; unconsciously. I didn’t see it until I analysed how my reading activity was toward the end of the challenge in 2018.
We live in a world where everything we do has the potential to become yet another input signal in the algorithm that is us. No matter what we do, the numbers will follow. Therefore, it is essential that when we do something we find pleasure in, we let the numbers do what they’ll do anyway—follow.
Since this is the first post in The Nudge, I figured I’ll take some space to explain how this works. The articles will be in-line with how it used to be on Helping Hand; however, each will end with ‘The Nudge’ which will be a quickly graspable, shareable, summary/argument for the topic at hand.