This is an essay by Brandon Monk.
The hardest step is committing to the habit. Just like running a marathon, you will need to mentally prepare to accomplish your reading goal. To ease into the habit try starting with a simple initial goal. Set a goal of reading for five minutes or for five pages. Make the goal so small that you will consider yourself foolish and lazy if you don’t find the time to get the reading done. Also, start calling yourself a reader. Tweet about reading and mention me @readlearnwrite and we’ll get a conversation about reading going. I’d love to hear of your reading exploits.
Around 1954 a psychologist named Julian B. Rotter studied a variable called “internal locus of control.” Having a high internal locus of control means you think you control your own life. He studied it for years and published a study along these lines. Rotter, J.B. (1966). “Generalized expectancies of internal versus external control of reinforcements”. Psychological Monographs 80 (609). He found the higher your internal locus of control, the more you control your behavior. If you think you can control your life then you can more easily actually control your life. So, flip the internal switch to reader. The switch is more important than any other step you will take. You are a reading architect. Only two obstacles keep you from becoming a reader: (1) a physical disability (and even most disabilities overcome these days) or (2) your own negative attitude toward reading. You should work to develop an internal locus of control with regard to reading. You control your own reading destiny.
Who: Who do you want to learn from? What do you want to master? What do you want your reading to enable? Define your reading goals. What will you look like as a reader in a year? Will you read every day? Will you read all you want? Start to think about your reading goals. You should even consider introducing yourself to a friend or family member as a reader. Identify yourself to others as a reader to strengthen your internal locus of control.
What: What do you want to read? Sure, you read blogs, you’re reading this one, but your insides stir with a substantive reading goal. What brought you to this point? To read better, but in what way? Do you want to learn to read with more depth and value? A goal exists. Write it down and make it concrete. Buy a journal or scrounge one up from the storage bin and take notes as you work through this guide. What reading equipment might you need? Would it help to go out and buy a tool to use to identify yourself as a reader?
I suspect your note taking habits will change over time. Embrace the learning process and adapt as you go.
Where: Where can you read comfortably? What room or chair works best? Do you read better with noise reduction head phones? Can you read supine without falling asleep? Use this community, or at least, use me (email@example.com), as your reading support system.
When: When do you read? Every day–for life–you should read. What if you only read 10 pages a day for the next 365 days? You will read 3,650 pages you didn’t read last year. You will want to do much more after a month. For now, though, do you read in the morning or evening? Give it some thought. When would you give the book your full attention? Do not focus on speed. Read as slow as you can tolerate. When can you read without the world pushing you another direction?
Why: The fates drove you to this point. They want you to read about them. You found this blog. An attractive cosmic rule is in effect. Don’t fight the urge. Why do you want to read?
How: How do I become a better reader? Check back at least once a week and you’ll get some new ideas or some new motivation. Come back for renewal on a daily basis if you will benefit. Use the blog as positive reinforcement or a kickstart. Use me for reinforcement if that suits you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start to define yourself as a reader. Answer the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of You, the Reader, on your own. Journal your definition. Design your future reading self. Ask for support when you need it. Everyone here wants to help because we want you to be part of our discussion about reading when you’re ready.
Photo by Paul Jarvis.