Big Dan's Ramblings

Ramblings from a Boston Boy stuck in New York

2011 Resolutions | #3 – Read 20 Books

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I have been meaning to talk about the power of goal setting and some methods for setting and achieving goals on this blog.  As a way of addressing this topic, I am going to talk about my four resolutions for 2011 this week.

I have gone through phases in my life where I read a lot and phases where I have read very little.  Despite my lackadaisical commitment to reading, I believe it to be a fundamental building block in creating and intelligent person.  In my experience, the people who can converse about most anything during a work meeting, dinner party or even while have a beer at the bar are the people who read.  Newspapers, magazines, books, blogs – the media does not really matter as long as people are absorbing new information on a regular basis.  I have not been doing that lately for numerous reasons that are irrelevant to this post.

In 2011, I will commit to increasing my reading quantity in order to become a more well rounded intellectual.

Zeroing In On The Goal

Reading quantity is important, as I stated above, but the quality is also very relevant.  For instance, I could read every entry ever printed in Penthouse Forums and not be an intelligent human being.  Sure, I would be reading a large quantity of material.  However, would it really contribute to increasing my level of intelligence?  Of course not – in fact, some may argue that it may diminish it!  Therefore, it is imperative that the quality of reading material is also taken in to account for this goal.  I already have a regular reading schedule of sorts.  I peruse about two dozen blogs via Google Reader on a daily basis.  I also scan ESPN.com multiple times per day.  This online reading keeps me more or less up to date on some of the subjects that I find interesting.  I also have a few magazines that I receive at my house – mostly trade magazines – that allow me to stay up to date in my industry.  All of these sources of reading material are of relatively good quality; however, I do not feel that they make me a ‘well-read’ person as much as they make me a ‘well-educated’ person.  Therefore, I can make a very specific goal for 2011:

I will read twenty (20) books in 2011, alternating between educational non-fiction and personal enjoyment fiction books.

Baby Steps

This goal is more about doing than planning.  There is no great mystery about how to get started – grab a book and start reading.  When you are done, grab another and repeat.  That being said, there are a few tricks or caveats that will assist me in achieving my goal.

  1. Defining a List of Books.  I have already accomplished this step.  About a year ago, I opened an account over at SpringPadIt.com.  It is a great site for collecting information.  (I have also used EverNote.com for similar list making.)  On this site, I have created three lists – To Read, Reading, and Already Read.  As one might expect, I have populated these lists with books I want to read.  I have pulled from different locations for both non-fiction and fiction books.  For instance, Manager-Tools.com has a great list of books on their site.  Most, if not all, of the books that Manager-Tools.com recommends are on my non-fiction list.  My fiction list consists of books recommended by friends and of books written by authors I enjoy.  I already have over forty (40) books in my To Read list.
  2. Finding Time to Read.  Being a father of twins with a full-time job, house, wife, and other responsibilities, I sometimes find it hard to squeeze reading time into my busy schedule.  Given that I am committing myself to reading more in 2011, I need to find ways to make sure I read a little each day.  I’ve found two ways to achieve this task:
    1. Read Every Night Before Bed – Even if it is only ten pages or so, reading every night before I go to bed will make sure that I am working towards my goal on a daily basis.
    2. Listen to Books on Tape – My local library is terrific in that they allow me to download audio books onto my iPod at no charge.  I have successfully ‘read’ a few books in 2010 this way.  While I consider the act of actually reading printed word to be superior to listening to a book, this method will most definitely help me achieve my goal as I can use commuting time to and from work as reading time.  This method will be solely used for fiction books, as I believe that I do not retain as much knowledge from just listening.

Constant Monitoring and Feedback

Tracking the books I read will be very easy.  I will set up a spreadsheet (yes, I am tech geek at heart) that will track start and end dates for the books I am reading in addition to how many pages they are.  This information will allow me to track my progress over the year as well as determine my average reading speed (pages/day).

Monitoring will be a relatively easy task.  My goal will be two books per month average.  At that rate, I would exceed my goal by about four (4) books in 2011.  I will take a quick look at the end of every month to see where I am in my progress and pay much closer attention at the quarter-end and half-year marks.  If I find that my pace is too slow, I will start to cut out other activities (television viewing time immediately comes to mind) in order to achieve my goal.

My first three goals have centered solely on personal development.  In my next and final post in this series, I will address a goal that will benefit my entire family.

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3 responses to “2011 Resolutions | #3 – Read 20 Books

  1. Sam Jacobs 7-January-2011 at 9:27 am

    Reading some of the James Bond series now (original by Ian Fleming). Next, molecular biology…just kidding.

  2. Dan 7-January-2011 at 9:48 am

    Yeah, just finished a Brad Metzler novel…not sure what’s next on the hit list.

  3. Pingback: the need to read |

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