9 Lessons Reading 55 Books in 12 Months Taught Me

loungechair (12a of 27)I started out 2015 looking at my growing pile of books and lack of reading time. I didn’t want to stop buying books, I have an immensely growing love of learning, so made a point of ramping up the reading.

Before April I had only got through a couple of books, but upon noting I needed to get busy reading I started picking them up with purpose.  Over the course of the year the progressive rate I got through the books compounded, finishing the year with reading a couple a week.

All this taught me a lot more than just what was in the books.

1. The more you look for pockets of time with a purpose in mind, the more time you find.
I began reading a little bit upon bed time until I started looking for time. I then added the wait at the doctor’s I had each month. Now with a book in my bag I was finding pockets of reading time throughout my day. I added lunch breaks, any other times waiting, and ended up reading on my way to and from work, if I am awake early, and throughout the evening.  These default timeslots haven’t required me to ‘make time’, but rather have allowed me to take more control of time I was wasting on social media or reading crappy magazines left around, wandering shops or watching TV. Which brings me to the next lesson.

2. Social media and email are time sucking vampires. 
The more I read and got value for my time the less I was interested in social media. I got to the point where I was looking for things to ‘unfollow’ and emails to unsubscribe from to clear my life of this time clutter that blocked my time spent on more valuable endeavours.

3. The more we do, the more we do – with ease.
It was a push in the beginning to start the reading ball rolling, but once I had created the habit that ball ran away with itself.  It was amazing to see how the excuses of ‘not having enough time’ and ‘not feeling like it’ really were just excuses my monkey brain was creating.

4. Get rid of what isn’t working for you, like yesterday.
I started getting so much value out of the books I began questioning anything that wasn’t delivering in my life.  I even questioned the books.  If the content wasn’t grabbing me, wasn’t teaching me, or just wasn’t for me, I quickly moved on/removed it.  This meant a few of those 55 books were skimmed. There are too many great books to read, places to see, friends to catch up with, etc. that you should not give another second to anything that isn’t working for you. This is a key point I discuss and provide info on in my book Five Bedrooms to Five Boxes.  The power in owning the authentic you is knowing what is for you and soaking it up (as I cover next) and what isn’t for you; you can admire all that sparkle but respectfully decline it getting a place in your life. Thanks, but no thanks.

5. When something so very you comes along, soak it up.
As I got purposeful about my time and removed so much noise, I created room to really sink into what served me.  When I was reading one particular book that I was really enjoying as I strolled home I passed a park and decided to go in, sit down and continue to really savour this book.  The sun was shining, the pages were their own version of meditation and I was so into it all. I took the time and relaxed into it.

6. Learning makes learning easier.
The more I read the more I yearned to read.  As the reading grew into a habit, the habit grew momentum and my brain began opening up more and more. I now crave the books, the teachings, the words of wisdom and stories shared. I am greedy for this pastime now having experienced the direct value add to my life. There is no push to pick up a book now. Now there is a search for the book.

7. Seek to understand exactly what you are letting into your life. 
In the last month of the year I started finding a few books a bit same, same. I was coming across content I had read in similar books.  As I had picked most of these books on a brief cover scan, front and back, maybe a short flick through, I hadn’t really assessed the content.  There are thousands upon thousands of books on meditation, and there are probably thousands of different ways to meditate. To pick up any book on meditation may not lead to the journey you were seeking.  I have learnt to now really check out the contents of what I am selecting to be in my life.  Don’t judge a book by its cover, open it up and judge it thoroughly – seek out the true content of what you are allowing into your life.

8. Slow down your purchases, buy intentionally.
I am less greedy in bookshops now. Once I was like a starved person at a buffet; now I am the satisfied person enjoying smaller, more meaningful fare. With all the books read recently and 50 still in the to-read pile (whilst I am still chomping at the bit to go buy another book), I now know that the content I seek could very well be in one of my unread books and the more I have read the less easy it is to just select any sort of relevant book.  If I wait to buy until I am ready to read then I can purchase what is right for me at that time. Wants and needs change, so to bring anything into our life before we are ready to use, read or wear it is likely to lead to being a waste of money.

9. Personal development is a must.
Ninety percent of the books I read this year were ‘self-help’ books. The topics ranged from meditation, consciousness, performance, spirituality, desire, and creativity. I learnt about getting more out of my life by learning from all the amazing research and lessons others had to share.  I now understand how to better meet the needs of my body, why Mark Zuckerberg and other high profile people are choosing to wear the same outfit each day and other surprisingly big impacts on mental fatigue, how to keep my body burning fat before its glucose stores and therefore keep my body’s energy more stable throughout the day, what behaviours and patterns lead to peak performance and restful downtime, and so much more that has enhanced my life tremendously. Whilst I do enjoy a good novel too, I think we should all continue to learn about ourselves and how to make the most of this one precious life.

My recommendations from the list of 55 books will be out in one of the following blog posts, but here is an earlier list I complied of favourite books from my life to date to tide you over.

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