How to develop a consistent reading Habit
Written by: Stephen Angbulu
The laments were real, “I keep buying books I won’t read!
I get overwhelmed with guilt each time I sight the stockpile I’ve gathered over the years.” Does that sound like you? Do you see yourself developing a healthy studious lifestyle but can’t live up that ideal in reality? or perhaps you’re just somewhere in the middle, reading sounds great but “it’s just not my thing”, you say. Although it may sound too simplistic, but the huge differences in the world boil down to three categories of people. The avid learners, those who ‘think’ of learning, and those who don’t give a…. about learning or personal growth.
Philip Crosby puts it this way; “There is a theory of human behavior that says people subconsciously retard their own growth. They come to rely on cliches and habits. Once they reach the age of their own personal comfort with the world, they stop learning and their minds run idle for the rest of their days. They may progress organizationally. They may be ambitious and eager, and they may even work night and day, but they learn no more”.
The statistics are valid, one-third of secondary school graduates never read a non-academic book for the rest of their lives. 45% of university students may never read a book after graduation, and besides buying kids’ books for school, only 28% of Nigerian adults went book-shopping in the last 5 years. Moreover, very few really study, even fewer glean the volume of books they claim to have read, and much fewer know how to read effectively. Are books the only medium of learning? Not at all, never will. In the information age that we are, it’s totally fine to explore other mediums gaining knowledge like video clips, one-minute tutorials and a vast pool of online articles, but for how long can your system survive on ‘crumbs’?
Asides enlarging your knowledge base, building your creative/imaginative prowess, developing empathy, and sharpening your spoken and written language of expression, reading also helps you leverage on decades worth of lessons, and can save you years of trial and error. It offers you the results of an experience you wouldn’t have to go through, saving you time and costly missteps. But how do you develop a consistent reading habit? How do you transition from accidental learner to intentional learner? And how do you get the best from every book you read?
Granted, not everyone is an instinctive reader. However, like every noble art, reading can be ‘habitualized’. Anyone can be trained into a proficient reader and learner, including you! Even ‘natural’ readers still struggle occasionally, which is why talent or motivation isn’t always enough. You need more than a quick-boost for a lifelong affair such as reading. A reading habit is developed and sustained by possessing the attitude of a learner, the hands of a doer, and systems that function outside the influence of your moods. ‘Learner’ would mean a disposition that keeps you open to new knowledge coupled with the capacity to know which is needful and which is redundant. Healthy curiosity and teachability are two metrics of a learner’s attitude. As Alvin Toffler wrote, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”.
Like most good habits, reading must be engaged intentionally. The process must be simple and repetitive and identical. This only works through systems; a process for predictably achieving a goal based on specific, orderly, repeatable principles and practices. Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results predictably. However, without a system, even extraordinary people find it difficult to predictably achieve even ordinary results.
So stay tuned to this blog space as I will be sharing in another post these concepts in a way that will perfectly help you cultivate a workable and consistent reading habit.