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  • Writer's pictureJorge Diaz

A Reading Habit is Vital for Succeeding in Life

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

When I was a teenager, my idea of "education" was something like this: It is a finite process that is supposed to start as early as in kindergarten and go all the way down to the university. Then, I heard about post-degree education diplomas and thought -"OK, you can somehow upgrade your skills and learn something good once a while." I was so wrong.

Education is an infinite game. School systems on modern society use to package it on different tiers, but essentially it is a lifelong process. And there is where I believe that a good reading habit is the compound interest of self-education. Books are the key to long term personal growth and self-development. We "read" image books when we are toddlers, then comics when we learn to read, later school books and then comes the real-life where most of us "drop books".

But books are still around, even if the school is over. Books bring no barriers, on the opposite, books bring pure doors and knowledgebase. The learning process literally fits between your hands.

Books enable "education" as a lifetime process. Just like breathing or feeding, reading books can become a vital function if we build it like a habit.

Bill Gates has a huge passion for reading. On his personal website, he is regularly featuring books he recommends and has pretty cool and objective reviews.

Building a Reading Habit

In my article about the 84 books I read during 2019, I went into detail with some suggestions on how building a reading habit. I will go a little bit further today on those specific tips:

Read before falling asleep. Have the book next to your bed, sofa or wherever you will rest. Make it easy, and don't turn on your TV. You will be impressed by how effective it is for both having a sweet sleep and closing a long day.
Read on public transport, while having lunch (if you are alone) or during waiting time.

The #1 argument I fall into with friends and relatives when it comes to "allocate" some reading time, is time itself. - "I don't have time for that now." or "I've been trying for months to start X book." But "time" is not the real reason.

Screen time (smartphones, television, computers, and tablets mostly) takes a toll on our daily schedules, more and more every year. In a recent study published by The Washington Post, Americans spend about 2.9 hours/day in front of a screen and about 15 minutes/day reading, with each one increasing and decreasing respectively.

We don't need 26 hour days to make it work. There is actual room in our daily schedules to play with and replace some screen time with actual reading one.

On average, Americans spend almost 3 hours/day in front of a screen. Source: The Washington Post

The next time you find yourself lying on the bed with the phone in your hands, just replace it by that book you have there getting dust. Proof me wrong and start by reading just one page at a time.

Allocate a fixed moment of the day to do it. The earliest, the better. It could be waking up 15 minutes earlier in the morning just to read.
Listen to Audiobooks while you are doing side activities. Working out at the gym, driving (drive safe BTW), doing the dishes... all these activities can easily be combined with a good audiobook.

Audiobooks are fantastic. Still, not all books can be "consumed" this way, especially if these come with graphics, tables, formulas or complex data sources, but still, it is a valid method. Autobiographies, historical books, case studies, and general non-fiction books fit nicely on a heavy schedule.

I have personally brought Audiobooks into my daily routine: the gym, waking up early in the morning and a good audiobook have resulted to be a great combo! My alarm goes off every weekday at 5:59 am and, it doesn't matter if there is a snowstorm or +30 degrees Celcius out there, I jump off my bed and go for it. Is that first hour of the day that prepares me for the rest of the workday ahead.

Am I Successful, just for Having a Reading Habit?

I believe I am. I'm on track to learn more every year than what I learned probably during the first 15 years of my life. For me, success relies on having the systems that will generate the end result, more than achieve a specific goal.

In the same way, you could say that having a saving/investing system guarantees a retirement fund; or living a balanced diet/exercise guarantees a healthy life, I believe that having a reading habit will eventually polish my decision-making capacity more and more. And once you sharpen that, you will avoid a lot of mistakes because you learned to. It is a matter of the system, way more than achieving a specific milestone.

So, I may not be successful today, but for sure, someday I will. My reading habit will bring me there.


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