The One Reading Habit That Can Change Your Life
I was going to write about a different topic today, but at the last second, I felt this was equally as important to shed light on.
When I first started to read more books, I started because I had found out that reading is one of the main factors helping people get rich and wealthy.
Initially, I didn't want to start reading.
Carried over from my previous years in school, I had this notion about reading where I thought that it's just a waste of time and nothing good comes from it.
The books that we were reading in school were action books, fairy tales, I didn't even know there was a business section because I never even acknowledged the topic.
So for a few weeks or even months after learning about the impact reading has had on others, I didn't actively decide to read.
In my first ever article, I mentioned how I got into reading and entrepreneurship.
The trigger for me, surprisingly, was finding the book 'Rich Dad Poor Dad,' in my sister's room.
My sister is not a reader, and neither was I.
That's why it was such a surprise to find this book in her room.
I used this event as a starting point, and from my very first book, I made it a habit to read at least one book every month.
Around a year and a half later, I have 17 books in my collection and it will only keep growing from here.
Till now, my favorite book is still the same and has not changed. It can be found in this article here.
Seen as 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' was the first book on business and finance I ever read, there were some ideas and beliefs that I didn't quite understand looking back now.
Whilst working on Condensr, my previous startup which was an app that summarises business/finance books into really fast and detailed 10 minute narrations, I researched a lot about reading.
I had to do lots of research on how long it takes to read the average book, habits surrounding books, the best entrepreneurship books, and I even took it into my hands to interview almost 30 entrepreneurs, almost all were successful, to learn more about their habits with reading.
Surprisingly, some of them didn't even read.
Although this was only a small minority, it still showed me that not every successful person reads books.
This is not the message we're trying to carry through today, so let's move on to the next finding.
One of the main reasons stopping entrepreneurs from having great reading habits was not the lack of time but the lack of good books available.
Many entrepreneurs had fallen into the habit of having to research a book before reading a single page of it.
Many even used apps like Condensr to first figure out if a book will be worth reading.
The 10-minute synopsis and overview of the book showed them if the book will contain some information worth reading.
Some even took it a step further and looked through the titles and contents page of the book.
They wanted to get an idea of exactly what topics will be discussed before reading the book.
Through all of my research, I don't recall many people mentioning what they did with the information they learnt.
Although most entrepreneurs I spoke to said that they take action on the book's contents and teachings, not many told me what they did after the book had finished.
We had developed a feature with Condensr where people are able to, after the summary was finished, reflect on what they learnt.
A simple exercise where you just look over what you've learnt and answer questions about it.
These questions can simply be things like:
- What were the main points of the book?
- What were the lessons the book tried to convey?
- Where are these lessons most applicable in your life?
- What does X mean to you?
There were many more questions, but many of which couldn't be shown here since those questions are all tied to a specific book and can't be generalised.
Our goal with Condesnr was to truly change an entrepreneur's experience with reading and learning.
Something that may have taken weeks or months before, could now be boiled down to 10/20 minutes.
With this, we had to do lots of research about the optimal learning conditions, how long to read, information overload (let's be real, some people would have gone through 10s of books a day with our app), and so on.
Everything I learnt showed me how little I really knew about reading.
For example, if you do exercise daily, you're more likely to focus more, retain more and learn better.
When I first started to read, I didn't follow any specific method.
I just picked up the book and started reading at some point every day for as long as It felt right to do so.
Although today I'm a little more structured and read in the morning, I still fail to do a lot of things that maximise my learning potential.
Going back, these things can be as simple as just reflecting on what you've learnt from the book and thinking about them.
Every book will have some lessons or ideas you may not have known before.
That's why taking the time to properly reflect on the book is essential so that you can internalise everything you've just read.
I noticed how I just jump from book to book without really taking the time to properly internalized what I've learnt previously.
After all the secret is not reading too many books, it's learning and really implementing what you read.
That's where the real value comes from reading.
Every day, when you read for 30 minutes, 1 hour, or however long it takes you, take some time to think about the last X pages you read and what they taught you.
It's much easier to reflect on a few pages rather than the whole book at once at the end.
You may even want a notepad or something to sketch some notes on.
Think about what the lessons were teaching you.
Make notes about how it applies to you - bullet points are enough.
Start to think and note how you may apply all that you've learnt.
Going into business, It's felt like all this time, I've been in one long race against time.
This makes it hard to properly stop and think about my actions and where they're really taking me.
Many of us might feel the same.
We try to finish things quickly and start the next one, but we fail to see that speed, used incorrectly can be fatal.
It's more like a hamster wheel that we're running on.
So let's just stop for a second and slow down.
Let's take our time and do things one by one.
Let's really start to reflect on the books we read and effectively learn from them.
This is how this simple exercise can look like:
There were two main lessons that I picked up from these 12 pages.
The author introduced me to 2 new concepts about habit implementation:
- The implementation intention formula: which is pretty much 'doing [behaviour] at [this time] and [this location]'
- The habit stacking formula: Derived from Denis Diderot, this is where you implement a new habit right after one of your current habits.
That is how simple this exercise is.
But it's really effective because it helps you remember what you've learnt and think about it a little longer.
Even if you need to open the book back up to remember, it's still a great exercise and will surely benefit you in the long run.
When we sit down to think about what happened and memorise it, we're more likely to act on it.
Since the book 'Atomic Habits,' is all about building new habits and breaking old ones, I may use one of these new formulas today, actually.
I've had a life-long bad habit of sleeping late.
A few years ago, this 'sleeping late' problem was out of control.
I would go sleep at 7am since I was on the PlayStation every day from the moment I woke up (which was usually in the afternoon at 2 or 3pm).
This has drastically improved from a few years back, but still a habit that I'm not fond of.
From now, I could set a habit stack where as soon as I close my laptop at night, I start getting ready to lay in bed.
This is still a little ambiguous and can be refined further, but the basic gist of the lesson I learnt in the book has been captured.
It's not about perfectly implementing what you learnt.
Being scrappy but implementing is better than not trying in the first place because you're afraid to fail.
I urge you to try this with the book you're currently reading.
Or maybe you've finished a book and haven't moved on to the next one yet.
Take some time, today, or tomorrow to think about what you've learnt in the book.
Get a piece of paper out and jot down the key lessons you remember.
Don't be afraid to open the book back up.
Now from those lessons, simply think about how they can apply to your life.
Think about why they may be important to you.
Can they help you in any way?
Like I mentioned above, each book will have its own set of questions depending on the content of the book.
Think through those questions and answer them.
This small habit can make a wealth of difference in your life.
Did you learn anything new from this article?
Do you already reflect on what you've learnt in books, videos and courses?
Let me know below!
Till next time,
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