In this article I share:

  • An excerpt from Chapter 3 of my book Calling Up. Just so you understand a little of the context: the main character Danny has just finished his season and decided to take a personal retreat by hiking up a treacherous mountain with a guide named James. James is no ordinary guide! (If you like it I hope you will buy a copy)
  • 5 Simple Strategies to Read More in Life

Chapter 3: Prepare for the Journey

 “If you do decide to set out on this journey: it will be a transformational experience. I have taken it hundreds of times, and I’m further transformed by every single trek.”

Transformational,Danny thought. Again, with that word. Danny paused again. He was unsure if he should stay or go, but something inside of him kept buzzing in his ears about how he’d feel if he simply abandoned the journey before he even took the first steps. His pride got the best of him, and he looked at James with a half-hearted sense of confidence.

“Okay, I’m in. Set up camp and then do what?”

James reached inside his bag and pulled out a leather-bound journal and two books. The titles of the books were The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hiking and InSideOut Coaching. “These are some of the most critical tools for your journey.” He handed them to Danny, who looked at them, dumbfounded.

“What are these? No fancy climbing shoes or gear? No map of the mountain? A blank notebook, a book for idiots, and a book on coaching. Really? This has got to be some kind of joke.”

“You coach basketball, right?”

“You can tell?”

“It says so on your shirt. ‘Washington Prep Basketball.’” James chuckled.

Danny even chuckled. “Yes, well . . . at least, for now I do.”

“Great! You’ll enjoy these books. And since we don’t have television or Internet out here, your options are limited! Books are a fantastic way to surround ourselves with some of the brightest people in the history of the world! Not only can they educate us, but they can lift us up, even when everyone else around us is trying to tear us down. The authors of great books and the stories of amazing people can be the most meaningful mentors in our lives.”

“I do like to read, but I never have enough time for it. I have a whole bookshelf at home of books I have never read.”

“John Waters, the famous author and filmmaker, once said, ‘Nothing is more important than an unread library.’ I’m sure you’d agree that we make time for what we value! The great news is, you will have less distractions out here to keep you from what is really important. There will be plenty of time for you to not only read these books, but really think about their meaning.”

5 Simple Strategies to Read More In Life

  1. I made a public commitment. I let my Facebook friends and people in my circle know that I was committed to reading 52 books in a year. Throughout the year, I shared the books that I was reading with everyone. During the year, their support and willingness to read some of the same books inspired me to keep going. 
  2. I cut down the time I spent on two very unessential activities that provided little value to my life: TV and social media. When you want to add a new activity to your life, you must be prepared to subtract something from your life, as well. The two biggest subtractions that I made were TV and social media. I stopped watching TV every night and limited it to just once or twice a week instead. I also did social media fasts for a few days at a time, and used the time that I would usually spend scrolling on a newsfeed to read an eBook instead. 
  3. I used 3 different platforms to read: 
    • Hardcopies/Physical Books. Especially at night, because studies have shown that looking at a smartphone screen right before bed can be harmful to sleep. Additionally, I still love a physical copy of the text because it is easier to highlight and write notes in. 
    • eBook/iBook. Being able to read on my phone was huge. It was a great alternative in times I would typically scroll through my newsfeed instead or while rocking one of my kids to sleep! 
    • Audiobooks. I had some long car rides from Tennessee to Pennsylvania in the early part of the year, so I maximized my time on those trips by listening to audiobooks. These are also great for those times when I was doing mindless activities around the house. 
  4. I took notes. Even for audiobooks! I was able to make notes in the Audible app and then go back later to put them into my note system (in Evernote). When you are reading a lot of books, you will probably want to remember great quotes, important facts, and intriguing stories. This level of engagement will enable you to get the most out of the next step, which is… 
  5. I reflected on what I read. Unbroken, Pride and Prejudice, Burn Your Goals… it didn’t matter the type of book I read; I spent time reflecting and taking something from all of them! I wrote down my thoughts as I read by keeping a daily journal. Later, I started a blog to share some of the lessons and principles I was taking from my reading. 

Don’t just start reading more, but most importantly read better! Check out these 6 tips to Find a Mentor in the Books You Read.

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