Each morning before work I take 30 minutes to read whatever non-fiction related book I deem useful to my professional development. It needn’t necessarily be subject specific to my role — it can be about anything I surmise may begin to cross-pollinate with other ideas acting as the genesis to new thoughts.
The key here is the routine. I do it every single workday without fail. It has become so ingrained within my daily routine that it feels unnatural if there is any reason that I cannot. It forms the first task on my calendar and reminds me to stick with it irrespective of competing demands.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes plans change, but very rarely do I even consider dropping it because I have ascribed such importance to it. When we deem things to be important, one of two things happen:
- We can falsely place them on a pedestal and disingenuously pretend to those watching that what we are doing matters while allowing our actions to tell a completely different story. We tell people we are focused but we are willing to drop it at the first opportunity to do something else.
- We can become oblivious to the inquisitions of others which distract us from the things that matter and do it irrespective of questioning. We reject alternative overtures and march on regardless, doing what matters because it has to be done.
For reading to matter you need to become ignorant of the judgement. Rightly or wrongly the vast majority of people are going to think you are wasting your time. Strangely, the relentless pursuit of the expansion of your knowledge is deemed by most people to be an entirely pointless endeavor. I implore you to think deeper.
Some texts contain the knowledge accumulated over a writers entire lifetime. Now think how quickly you can consume the lessons they teach. We possess thousands of years of humanities collective wisdom and if you are willing to invest just 30 minutes each day there are nearly no books you can’t complete in a couple of weeks (assumes 20 pages a day, 400-page books average, 166 wpm).
And there is this empirical fact of the matter; you have bestowed upon yourself fresh knowledge to utilize for the rest of the day. During your most switched on and creative moments of each day you have formed new neural pathways which link to the existing network and enable you to draw new conclusions from your expanded knowledge.
Secondly, you still have the entire day to achieve everything you must do. It’s perhaps less about finding the time more account cultivating a period in your day where there are no distractions.
It’s about ascribing importance to what matters, and if things matter to us we find ways to do them. It’s as simple as that. If reading is important to you, you will do it. You won’t find the time, you will create it. You will say no to the things that are distracting you and learn to block out the noise.
A single-minded focus is the only way we can achieve in life. We can allow ourselves to be seduced by technology or we can ignore it. Practiced ignorance of attention-sapping endeavors has been my most successful initiative this year, perhaps ever.
- The average American watches more than five hours of live television every day
- The average Facebook user spends 50 minutes on it each day
If you analyze your day honestly, I think we all have portions which we can reduce to become more efficient and effective. The above are but two examples, there are millions of other variables which are personal to you.
Having completed my morning education I spend the rest of the day basking in the glory of knowing. I know I’ll never know everything but I’ll forever know more than the day before. It forms part of my routine to improve just 1% each day.
Make at least one improvement that makes you better at something every single day. It sounds daunting, but improvements don’t have to be huge, they can be really small which incrementally leads to huge change. Improve just 1% each day and build upon that every single day thereafter. Doing so has a dramatic effect and will make us 37x better, not 365% (3.65x) better at the end of the year.
And it lets you come to the forefront of any topic you become interested in. 42% of all college graduates never read another book after graduation. Whether you went to university or not, you have the opportunity to excel and exceed them. It’s as simple as consuming words on a paper on a consistent basis. Do you have the passion and perseverance to enable yourself to succeed? Only you can decide.
By reading one hour a day, regardless of your perceived level of knowledge, you can become a world leading expert in any subject in 7 years. If you begin now, you could become a world-leading expert in your chosen field in less than 10% of your lifetime.
And when you start you begin to read fast letting you consume more within the same time period. You start to see new ideas greeting you in your life. You notice you’ve began to quote obscure texts and your friends pick up on it.
You feel smarter because you are.
So you do it more.
We find time to do the things we love. Stick with it, give the habit a change to take grip and change you.
It will be the most rewarding habit you ever have.
Then each night I unwind. After dinner where the majority of my peers sit down behind the television, I pick up a book. I read more lightly, consuming fictitious works which encourage my imagination. I let my mind wander and dream of the possibilities, impregnated by the thoughts of wonder.
I feed both spheres of my cognition, the measurable and the immeasurable. In the morning I’m taught and at night I learn, peacefully I drift into an alternate reality where I am free from the burden of life.
I’m safe to dream and create without worry or thoughts of retribution, in those moments of exploration I allow all the accumulated informed knowledge I have acquired up to that point to breed and give birth to new ideas, alter old beliefs or destroy pre-conceived bias’ or notions of self.
Each day I am reborn, the same me only altered and improved by the simultaneous collective experience of those lives I have consumed and my own I have lived.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” ― George R.R. Martin