5 Mindset Shifts to Build a Successful Reading Habit

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Every new year, you set up your Goodreads goal with grand plans to build a successful reading habit. And if you’re like me, every year, you fall short.

If you feel like you read less and less with every passing year, you’re not alone. As we get older, responsibilities pile up. At the end of the day, it’s easy to watch a show or leave a Youtube video playing in the background than picking up a book. And just like that, your precious books end up gathering dust on the shelves.

There’s a lot of advice out there about getting back your reading habit. Try audiobooks. Set goals. Get an e-reader to read on the go. Join a book club. You know the drill.

These are useful tips, for sure, but they’re only scratching the surface.

It’s important to go deeper into what’s preventing you from making the time to read in the first place. If you want to make a lasting change in your habits and read consistently, there’s one thing you need to do first — change your mindset.

Often, it’s not really about lack of time — it’s about resistance. The wrong mindset creates obstacles that you from creating a sustainable reading habit.

So, here are 5 tips to change your mindset and get you to achieve your reading goals.

how to read more books
Credit: simpleinsomnia

build a successful reading habit: Don’t Wait for the Perfect Moment

When you think about making time to read, you might think of a cosy, quiet night with a book and a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

If you’re working long hours and taking care of responsibilities at home, it’s hard to set carve out that perfect time. But hear me out. In most cases, you do have time.

Instead of waiting for that aesthetic, comfy moment, make the imperfect, mundane pauses and breaks your time to pick up a book.

Take a book with you to the doctor or play an audiobook during your commute. Replace some of that social media scrolling time with short reading sessions.

Tracking your time might help you find those times when you could read. Do you spend a lot of time watching Youtube videos? Is Instagram taking more time than you’d like? Replace at least some of that distraction time with a book.

A word of caution. Don’t try to optimise every second of your life or make every moment of your day a productive one. (Trust me — I tried, and it sucked.) Yes, you are allowed to check social media or daydream or listen to music.

2. Embrace Your Reading Tastes: Don’t Let Others’ Opinions Hold You Back

Reading is not just about tackling the classics. Reading magazines, fan fiction, romance novels or YA is also a nurturing experience for you and a good way to build a reading habit.

If you follow your instincts and read what you like, it won’t feel like a chore. You’ll feel excited about picking up your book, which reduces resistance.

Once you have built your reading habit, start exploring stories and authors you wouldn’t normally read. Tools like Storygraph can help you create a reading list that combines familiar genres with works out of your comfort zone. Or, give your friendly local librarian a visit!

build a reading habit
Credit: Nenad Stojkovic

3. The Power of Quitting: Why It’s Okay to Stop Reading a Book You’re Not Enjoying

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to abandon a book. Didn’t like it? Move on to the next one without guilt.

It’s common among readers to feel that you have to finish every book. If you join challenges or book clubs, you might end up with books you committed to reading only to find you didn’t enjoy them.

But when you’re stuck with a book you don’t like, you’re creating resistance. Notice how many times you’ve decided to do something else instead of reading, and how often that could be due to the fact you don’t like your current book.

It may be you’re just not in the mood for that book at the moment. Set it aside and give it a try later.

You can also try giving each book a trial period. For example, commit to reading at least 30 pages. If you don’t like it, move on to the next one.

This is my biggest hangup with book clubs. While they help me discover books I wouldn’t have read otherwise, it feels like an imposition. I’d much rather have the freedom to read what I feel like at any moment.

4. It’s Okay to ‘Cheat’: Why Audiobooks and E-books Count

I’ve met old-school book lovers who think of audiobooks as ‘cheating’.

Respectfully, that’s BS.

Studies have suggested that listening results in lower retention levels, but does that matter if you’re reading fiction for fun?

For many, the hour they spend stuck in traffic or on the train is one of the few moments in their day to read.

So, by all means, listen to audiobooks. Read on your phone. Take photos of several pages of a paper book and read them on the go. Do what works for you, even if other people don’t see it as ‘reading.’

build a successful reading habit
Credit: Denkrahm

5. Achieving Your Reading Goals: The Importance of Starting Small

One way to get more motivation is to set up a daily or weekly goal. But not all goals are created equal.

Every book lover dreams of reading one book per week, but it’s important to be realistic. A small goal you can achieve every day is better than an ambitious goal you won’t be able to meet.

I prefer to set up a goal as time. For example, at least 30 minutes after lunch. You can also set it up as a fixed number of pages or minutes of audiobook to read each day.

Small goals can create resistance because it’s hard to see progress daily. To stay motivated, you can track your progress every day, and set aside a few minutes on the weekend to see how much you read.

And there you have it — 5 mindset changes to build a successful reading habit

Time management tips might help, but in many cases, you need something more than distraction-blocking apps and timers. When you go to the root causes of what’s preventing you from picking up a book and work on changing them, it’ll be easier to make time for it.

Do you have any tips that worked for you? Share them in the comments below!

Liked what you read? Here are other blog posts about writing I think you’ll enjoy: Inspiration: Find creative writing ideas to beat writer’s block

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