Happy 2019! Hopefully, the year is off to a great start and you’re on track with your New Year’s resolutions! However, if you haven’t committed to a gym membership this week or decluttered your house while binge-watching Netflix, there’s still a trendy way to jump on the “New Year, New You” train. Grab a book. Better yet, grab 200 of them. It appears that 2019 is the year of the 200 Book Challenge.
The value and long-term impact of reading consistently has been demonstrated repeatedly in both scientific research and executive case studies. From Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and a long list of notable billionaires, the passion to read daily is a common trait that defines them. In fact, it is estimated that 4 out of 5 executives read one book per week. Reading is part of their daily ritual and provides both educational benefits as well as stress reduction and mindfulness. Reading for knowledge gain or pleasure helps individuals think more creatively and be open-minded about new experiences or concepts. Many writers will tell you that when they hit a creative road block, that’s a signal that they need to read more. The more they read, the more they need to express their own thoughts.
Research has shown that reading consistently is positively correlated with the following exhaustive list of benefits: longer lifespan, greater empathy, intellectual humility, improved vocabulary, improved social awareness, and stronger emotional intelligence. Since you’re halfway reading through this post, congratulations on feeding your brain and soul today!
But who has time to read 200 books in a year? If billionaire executives who likely have access to personal shoppers, chefs, chauffeurs, house managers, personal assistants, etc., only find time to read one book per week, how realistic is it for the average person to consume one every other day? Life is busy. Most managers leave work, grab dinner, spend some time with their family, then log back in and keep working in the evening. Endless lists of to-do’s at work will always win over an hour of leisure time.
At least that’s the story we tell ourselves. To give yourself a reality check, check your iPhone’s screen time report. How much time per week have you spent in a semi-conscious state scrolling through various social media sites or watching videos? How many shows have you binge-watched lately? Chances are that there’s enough time wasted on less valuable experiences that could be devoted to reading at least one book per week.
Perhaps 200 books is neither realistic nor attractive for you. Set your own reading goals and commit to starting and finishing one new book first. Take stock of the impact the reading experiment has on your life (including energy level, mental health, clarity and creativity). Much like seeing results from hard work at the gym motivates people to continue working out, the positive impact daily reading has on individuals is likely to fuel better reading habits.
There’s no leader on Earth who couldn’t benefit from an improved vocabulary, better abstract reasoning, problem solving, self awareness, and innovative thinking. It all starts with one book first to build positive reading habits that ignite life-transforming changes.