It’s a new year, in case you didn’t know. I’m sure you didn’t. It’s this new thing they’re trying out, where, after a collection of about twelve months they decide to reset the months back to one and start over again.
Anyways, during this time of year people have decided to set their minds to accomplishing a specific set of tasks they want to do to improve their lives; eat better, work out more, etc. For years I did the same thing; ‘It’s 2011, I’m going to accomplish this, create that, workout and look like this…’ etc etc.
Eventually I realized that making a resolution at the beginning of the year, no matter how well intentioned, wasn’t accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish out of life (and statistically most resolutions fail anyway).
So I gave them up entirely. What’s the point?
The last three years, I didn’t have any resolutions at all. Instead I focused on spending each month on a single project that would allow me to close the book on that project after that month and start the next month with a new project. I’ve had varying levels of success on these different projects, but overall I’ve been very happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish over the last several years. (IE: A LOT more than before… Which was nothing.)
I’m not stopping that by any means. It’s given me great momentum and this upcoming year is going to allow me to release some projects that have been in ‘development hell’ for almost a decade.
BUT I’m constantly seeking self improvement and there are several things I’ve been wanting to make a habit in my life. I have a clear picture of who I want to be and what I want to do with my life, so I’m constantly striving towards that image.
One of the major things I’ve wanted to be able to do is to read more… But I just didn’t seem to have time. AN ENTIRE BOOK?! THAT’S TOO MUCH!
To give you an example of how my last eight or so years of reading has been, I’ve read a LOT of comics (though last year even my comic reading dropped significantly) and I usually manage to read about two to four books a year (usually business and finance books, I rarely make time for fiction anymore).
Which is odd, considering I’m a fiction writer. Huh.
WOW! You might say, that’s a LOT more than what I read in a year!
Well, considering that I used to read a full novel every day and still had time to accomplish everything I needed to… I’m going to say that my reading has someone diminished since college. Ha.
Well, I took December off in order to kind of reassess my life and my goals. Make sure I was still headed in the direction I wanted to head and to plan to set myself (and my family) up for success in the upcoming years. I’ve been so frustrated over the last several years because I can’t find the sort of inspiration I’m looking for; I watch movies, television shows, SORT OF play video games… Yet I have this sort of empty feeling that doesn’t tickle my mind and I’d often just kind of feel like I could be working on a project instead of consuming the media I am consuming.
I’ve constantly been looking for that feeling that I’d felt when I was younger, when I was more creative and expressive, when I had a seemingly endless supply of stories and ideas… But for some reason, over the years, I’d begun to lose it. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was…
Well, about a year and a half ago my phone stopped working and I lost my constant access to social media (and generally the internet). I realized very quickly that I was incredibly addicted and was, of course, spending a tremendous amount of time on these sites. (Hereby attributing to the ‘I don’t have enough time to do ‘x’ excuse.)
In December, aside from taking it off from projects, I also took it off from Facebook entirely and managed to discover that I actually have a TREMENDOUS amount of free time. That is when I picked up some of Kevin Strange’s bizarro stories. It’s not secret that I’m drawn to weird stories, filled with unique characters and just a bizarre, out of the ordinary premise; some of my own stories or pitches reflect that, I’m sure. If it is a fantastically told story on top of that; all the better. I’d been wanting to pick up some of Kevin’s stories for awhile, but after I had actually read some of Strange’s stories (in particular Texas Chainsaw Mantis) I began to realize something; that feeling of inspiration and imagination that I had felt before college?
I got that feeling from reading.
Obviously! Duh! Over the years, as I’d begun to read less and less (as I got ‘busier’). I became less creative and became less inspired.
RIGHT after that I began to read quite a bit every day and ended the year by reading (and finishing) about four different books and a small set of short stories. So, I immediately I realized that reading was more than just a hobby or a goal for me; it was a NEED. Reading is a source of creativity, inspiration, and stimulation.
I was happier, I had an influx of creative ideas, I enjoyed the media that I was consuming more, and my mind was more focused on the other things I was trying to accomplish. I knew in that moment that I needed to get off my ass and start reading more.
HEY! It’s a new year! Let’s make a resolution!
Well, for the most part what I’ve realized that most people don’t go into this sort of momentous task without having a specific set of tasks in mind that will help this accomplish their overall goal. That’s why only 8% of people succeed in their resolutions. They’re too broad with what they want to accomplish.
So how am I going to make reading a habit? Well, I’m taking a very similar approach to the whole #FinishIt method that I’ve been successfully using over the last several years to accomplish various projects that I’ve been wanting to do for over ten years. This version, however, will take the form of a 100 day goal.
Every day for one-hundred days, my goal is to read as many books as possible.
Yikes. That’s a big goal. Well, after I broke it down, it seemed more reasonable; thirty days to establish a new habit, the bite-sized goal from now until then is to read at least two chapters a day in a book. This gives me a very straight forward, broken down goal that I can accomplish every single day for the amount of time I need to (the 100 days). A bunch of smaller tasks accomplished each day takes me a step closer to getting to where I wanted to be overall.
Instead of waking up in the morning and browsing Facebook, I wake up in the morning and read a chapter in a book. Instead of browsing Facebook when I’m bored, or before I got to bed, I read a chapter. Now I ONLY get onto any social media when I have a reason to and (big surprise) I’m accomplishing a lot more.
Well, I’m almost two weeks into the new year and guess what? I’ve almost read two books. With this method, I’m on track for reading a book a week. How awesome is that? I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing on fifty days and on one-hundred days… But so far I’m going strong!
So, in summation; I realized that, despite already cutting down my social media time SIGNIFICANTLY, I still waste a massive amount of time on it. I’m using my time to accomplish things that don’t matter and just eat up my time instead of accomplishing my goals. So, instead of using social media as a method of entertainment, I’m doing something else more productive and beneficial to my life. Reading.
What are some of your goals for this upcoming year? What do you want to accomplish?
Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.