The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. - Mark Twain
I’ve read many books over the years. And I hope you have too. But I’ve never made it into a consistent habit until recently. I applied my new discoveries from studying under teachers like BJ Fogg, James Clear and Charles Duhigg.
1. Decide When
I asked myself what time of day I’d like to read. That was easy. Bedtime. Before my reading habit, I spent most late evenings checking Facebook messenger or watching YouTube videos. The problem is the glaring screen from phones is not conducive to a good night's sleep. And without a good night's sleep, it’s much harder to flourish in other areas of your life. Sleep matters - so if there is anything you can do to improve your sleep, go for it. For me, reading is a much healthier way to relax and fall asleep compared to watching an addictive television series.
2. Start with reading just ONE Sentence a day
I asked myself what would be a ridiculously small step I could definitely commit to everyday. For me, ridiculously small would be to read just one sentence per evening. I could read more if I wished, but the absolute minimum is one sentence. No matter how tired I am, I can read a sentence. The idea is to make success super easy and failure difficult. So that’s what I did! You can choose what is ridiculously small for you. Maybe it’s a page or two. Maybe it’s just one word. You decide. But make sure it’s so easy for you, you laugh at it!
3. Place your book (or ebook reader) where you’ll see it
I asked myself where would be the ideal place to leave a book so I’d spot it. For me, it’s on my bedside table. Cues are a fundamental parts of habit formation. So my cue was to visually see the book, which would remind me of my commitment to read one sentence everyday. And then, as I clamber into bed, I open the book and read my one line. Yipee!
4. Celebrate every time you read your sentence!
Habits only form if there’s a reward after you’ve done the action. If there’s no sense of reward or joy, your brain doesn’t bother turning it into a habit. I actually forgot about this bit. A small reward can be just to smile, say ‘yes! I did it!’ or do a little dance. Fortunately, the act of reading itself was rewarding in itself and helped to turn it into a habit. It was a good book, although I can’t remember which one it was!
5. The Secret to Success: Consistency trumps quantity
I reminded myself what really matters is consistency. To read one sentence, EVERY single day. Doesn’t matter if it’s one sentence or a whole chapter. The consistency keeps feeding the habit, so the habit is much more likely to keep going. And if you somehow do miss a day, make sure to just do the absolute bare minimum to return back to the habit in the tiniest way possible.
To get into the habit of reading everyday, make success easy and failure hard. Take a few minutes to prepare and you’re much more likely to succeed and feel good.
Remember the great thing is, reading is a ‘keystone habit’. Which means it leads to so many other great habits and positive outcomes in your life. Once you get into the habit of reading everyday, you can learn anything you wish and enjoy a flourishing life.
If you’d like to learn more about my approach of combining mindfulness with kindness, consider my free 7 day course. Or my full 8 week program which is currently on sale - includes 60 mini daily videos and over 15 guided kindfulness audio meditations to try.
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