Reading More Without Living Less

Reading More without Living Less: Setting Reading Goals

October 2, 2012

Setting Reading Goals

With the new year just around the corner, now is a good time to consider goals for the next year.

Of course, you don’t need to wait until January to begin. In The Happiness Project (review here) and Happier at Home (review here) by Gretchen Rubin, she devotes each month to working toward a single goal, although it may include many related subgoals.

So if reading is a goal for 2013, perhaps you could take October (or November and December) and use it as a “trial month” for working on increasing your reading.

I am not naturally a Type A person (though I admire many who are, yet do not wish to be myself), nor I am highly competitive (perhaps more so than I was years ago, while also being less so in other areas). But having a specific reading goal has definitely helped me push myself.

Here are several suggestions to consider when setting a reading goal:

1. Make SMART goals.

I think many people are familiar with the acronym SMART for goal-setting, but here’s a brief refresher

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely
 2. Aim to read at least one book more per month than you currently are. 

Consider adding at least one more book to your monthly reading goal. If you’re not reading any books or have no specific goal (and aren’t reading much), then you could set a goal to read 12 books in 2013. Already reading some? Consider shooting for 24, or more. Adding one more book per month may not seem like that much more per month, but over the course of the year, they add up, and you may end up even doubling what you read for the year.

For perspective, in 2011, I read 53 books. (That was my first year reading so many. The couple of years prior, I read somewhere in the 20’s.) So, for 2012, I set my goal to read 75 books. (I’m currently at 66, am about to finish up several more, and have reset my goal to read 100 books this year.) At 53 books a year, I was averaging 1 book per week. This year, it’s more like 2 books per week. There are some weeks that I don’t read a book at all. There are other weeks that I read nearly one per day, though that is rare. 🙂

For where I am at this point in my reading, I don’t necessarily look at the specific week and consider myself to have failed or succeeded, based on whether or not I’ve read two books each week. I look at the big picture, and see how I’m doing. I do sometimes try to quickly finish a book by the end of the month. However, if you are starting out with a 12 book goal, you may want to make sure you don’t get too far behind.

3. Aim to read books in areas you’re not well read in.

Set goals to read a variety of interests and across a diversity of genres. This will actually help you read more, and not become bogged down reading just one area that may quickly become mundane. When you do this, you may also want to consider alternating between book types, etc… (I will touch more on this later, and will also share why it is beneficial to be reading more than one book at a time.)

If you are starting out with a 12 book goal for this coming year, consider choosing 1 to 3 books from a category you don’t normally read in.

4. You don’t have to have a list of exact books for entire year (or month), but it may be helpful to start out with a list for the first few books you plan to read.

Although I set a goal for the number of books I plan to read for the year, I don’t plan the entire list of books I plan to read. I have a huge list of books on my “to-read” list, but my selection process for each year also includes reading new releases and current bestsellers, which arise as the year progresses and obviously cannot be known in advance. This is also leaves an element of surprise and excitement for me throughout the year, which further drives my desire to read more books. (I explain a little bit about my book selection in this post.)

5. Consider changing habits in other areas for the year, too.

Do you need to exercise more? Eat better? Give up a bad habit? It may seem counterintuitive to work on several areas at one time, and there is certainly a limit and a point at which doing too much could become overwhelming. However, studies show that as good habits develop in important keystone habits, they tend to fall into place in other areas, as well. The Power of Habit (review here) is an excellent book that explains more about this.

My reading picked up exponentially when I began exercising consistently, and so did my eating habits. (Well, I didn’t start eating more exponentially; my eating habits improved immensely. 🙂

There are benefits to reading diversely, and reading from a variety of formats. 

These are key components that help me be able to read more. Tomorrow and Thursday I will share how these are beneficial to reading more without living less. As you set goals and map out a plan, this may be a helpful aspect to consider working into your goals, as well.

Do you set reading goals? What are some considerations you’ve found helpful in motivating yourself to read/read more? Or maybe you already have a strong desire, and you see hurdles keeping you from reading; what are some of those hurdles?

You can read day one of this series, Reading More Without Living Less: Why Read? here.

You Might Also Like

  • Melinda October 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I do sometimes set reading goals, but I have difficulty following through with them. I have a tendency to be a bit more spontaneous in my reading. I’m currently participating in the Fall Into Reading Challenge at Callapidder Days though; I’m hoping to achieve the goals I set for myself during this challenge.

    • Keren October 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      I do set goals, but I’m still spontaneous in what I read. I like having that flexibility. 😉

  • Johanna Hanson October 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I do set reading goals and that has absolutely helped me. Initially I set a goal for 24 books this year, but I way passed that, so upped it to 50. I’m not yet sure what goal I want to set for next year, but I do want to plan better next year. I need to force myself to read in genres and subjects I am not familiar with.

    • Keren October 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      I have seen several people surpass their orignal goals this year (on Goodreads). 🙂 I was in the 50’s last year, and 20’s the year before that. I’m guessing I am probably reaching my cap at how many I can reasonably set as a goal to read in a year (at least at this season of life) either this year or next. There are an awful lot of books in the world, though, and I still need to fill up on a lot of the classics. 🙂