Reading Resolutions for 2011
New Year’s Resolutions. Do you still make them? You know, those promises to yourself: “This year, I’m going to get so skinny, that I can wear a yellow polka-dot bikini at the beach”…”This is the year I’m going to get that promotion—and the raise that goes with it”…”This year, I’m finally going to get to know my brother, Joey’s, wife…” Never mind that you live 2,000 miles from the nearest beach, and no one your age should be caught wearing a bikini. Forget the fact that not only are they laying off layers of management at your company, but if you work any more hours than you already do, your family is going to leave you…And face it—Joey is a sweet man married a witch. You’re never going to be friends with her—so you might as well just settle for being civil. Any of these pie-in-the-sky resolutions that you make and don’t keep, just cause you to feel like a failure.
Reading Resolutions: How about making some goals you can successfully fulfill this year? Specifically, think about your reading life. What goals might be a personal stretch, but achievable with some simple planning? Do you just want to read more books? Would you like to read a greater variety of books? Do you yearn to read more classics—or at least more of the books you missed in college? Would you like to join or start a book club so that you can discuss the books you have read at a deeper level? Do you want to start a journal to record your reading observations and help you process your thoughts?
Any of these might be a good Reading Resolution for you for 2011—and with some simple planning, you can achieve them. Harvey MacKay nailed it when he said, “Failures don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.” So, let’s break down the planning process for a couple of these objectives.
Quantity: If you want to set a reasonable numeric goal for yourself, first take a look at your benchmark. Sit down and list all the books you read in 2010. Let’s say you read 15. Now, if you think you could read 2 books per month—that would bring you to 24 for this year. Before you think, ‘that’s not a big deal’, do the math—that’s actually a 60% increase over 2010! Then, either pick up a small notebook or set up a computer spreadsheet to record the books as your read them, and note the next book you want to buy at your favorite bookseller, or borrow from a friend or your local library, so you always have that “next great read” available. This same planning process would apply for reading classics, etc.
Quality: If you decided you want to vary the types of books you read, first decide which genres you would enjoy. African-American authors, Biography and Memoir, Faith-based books, Historical Fiction, Plays, Poetry, Science Fiction—the list is as boundless as your imagination. After selecting your categories, you can set your goal for each genre. If you choose 10 categories, and decide to read 2 from each, that would be 20 books per year—or a bit less than 1 book every two weeks. Does that sound doable for your lifestyle? If not, adjust your goal as needed. Next, as in the above example, choose a tracking mechanism that works best for you, and continually review your categories to ensure you have your next book ready-to-go in your targeted genre.
Setting a specific and reasonable goal—with a little stretch built in, choosing a consistent tracking mechanism to give yourself on-going feedback, and planning a constant flow to feed your reading life will allow you to achieve whichever reading objective you choose. I’d love to hear what goals you’re planning for this year.
So, here’s to reaching your Reading Resolutions for 2011!
The Book Club Cheerleader