Last year I set a goal of reading a book a week. I read 37 books and felt I could have worked a little harder and read a few more. This year I decided to see if I could do it again. I just checked my list of books that I have read so far, and I am at 6 books. Uggg….that is barely a book a month. Wow I am a little disappointed in myself. I can tell that my tank is empty. To me reading fills me up, always has. Reading allows me to escape to distant lands or times. Reading allows me to learn a new skill or perfect an old one. Reading is a way to light my spark. My spark is really not there. I have too much on my mind and I get stuck with work or personal issues in my head and I stop to go to the escape that a good book provides.
My middle son is home for a bit from college and I saw him reading something on his Surface. I told him how I really admired him that he was a lifelong learner. All of my kids are. We visited my oldest last week and we passed a used book store that he works near and he commented that he should go and buy a new book. Both my youngest and oldest were known in their school libraries. My middle son is always recommending business books to me.
When I made the comment to my middle son about how proud I was that I raised children who are lifelong learners he told me the importance of curiosity. Over the last few years I watched him do daily French lessons on a site called duolingo where he now holds a certificate from his University saying that he is fluid in French. I also watched him teach himself a programming language as he thought it would help in business if he could understand programming. Yesterday he was studying art history for the fun of it.
What happens when you are a lifelong learner? You can hold conversations that can be in depth and not superficial. You get past the basic watercooler conversations of reality TV, the weather and sports. Even though we don’t have cable TV I have found that I am wasting too much time on mindless activities. Sadly I have not been spending my free time wisely since my book consumption is so low.
How startling is the lack of reading our country is doing?
- The average person watches TV 2.7 hours a day and reads for only 18 minutes.
- 33% of high school graduates never read another book the rest of their lives
- 42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
- 80% of US families did not buy or read a book in the last year.
- Reading one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years.
- 57% of new books are not read to completion.
I like to read both digital download and physical books. While physical books add clutter, there is still something satisfying about holding a book in your hand. The smell of the pages are almost nostalgic. Right now I have three books that are following me around in my travel bag to read. I just ordered two more today. I do not want to fall into that statistic of 57% of new books not being read to completion.
If you are someone that has a stack of books that have been not been completed here is a challenge for you.
- Gather all of your unread books into one place.
- Sort into piles of, want to read right away and will read once you get some time.
- Take a look at how realistic your time is with the amount of books that you have. If you have more books than time, donate the pile that you will read once you get some time. Be ok with letting them go.
- Put a post it note on the ones that are staying. Set a goal of when you will have the books read by and write the date on the note. Order the books by priority and start reading. Once the date has passed put it in your donation pile. Set a goal and stick with it. You will start to find pockets of time where you can suddenly read for 15 minutes.
- Celebrates success by buying or borrowing a new book! Take a look at your local library or used book store for low priced options.
- Get your friends and family onboard and start challenges with each other.
But what if you are not a reader? There are so many options out there to support you in becoming a lifelong learner and keep your curiosity alive. I challenge you to find something that sparks your interest and learn everything that you can about it. Take a class, watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts or attend a conference. Just do something.
And remember, learning is sexy!
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,
Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!