When I started running—struggling to run is what I should say—one of the best pieces of advice I read was go slow. You’ll run further if you slow down and pace yourself.
I came across similar advice recently with reading, which I also suck at, from Belle Beth Cooper.
When I first started to focus on building healthier habits a few years ago, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to ask too much of myself.
I would go from reading hardly ever to attempting to read one book per week. Or from getting up at 9 a.m. most days to trying to roll out of bed before 6 a.m. every morning.
The distance between where I was starting and where I wanted to be was so great that I would fail a lot. And each failure made it harder to succeed the next day.
But, she goes on to say, if you take the habit you’re trying to create and break it down into something much smaller to start with, you have much greater odds of success.
The point is to focus on repeating the habit every day, but not worrying about how effective that habit is. In other words, quantity first; quality later.
I read that post back in January. To date, I’ve read three books this year:
- The Girl on the Train
- A Clash of Kings
- Modern Romance
I’m midway through my fourth right now: A People’s History of the United States. In fact, I read a little more than one page of it last night.
A couple things help to keep me going:
- Designate a time to read every day. I take the bus to and from work, so both those times are easy opportunities to get a few pages in.
- “Pay” for other activities with reading on the days you don’t feel like it. Remember, it’s all about getting in at least one page a day. One page counts. If I want to do something else—listen to music, browse social media, whatever—I’ll “pay” for that activity by reading one page out of my book. Sometimes I end up really liking that page and I’ll read a lot more. It’s a great way to trick the mind.
If all goes well, I’ll be updating the number in the headline of this post a handful of times this year.