Yes you can!!
I did it!!
I officially completed the 50 Books Challenge ( a challenge I set for myself beginning of this year).
One of my 2015 goals was to complete reading 50 Books by the end of this year. I reached my target with 57 days to go (8 more weeks to go).
50 Non-fiction Books!!
Why the 50 Books Challenge?
I came across this concept of reading 50 Books a year, a while ago when I was listening to an audio program by Brian Tracy.
In the program he was talking about the habit of reading an hour a day & how that habit can dramatically improve your career and personal life.
The idea resonated with me. I have always enjoyed reading as a child (mostly fiction though) – but if I can leverage that hobby to gain more knowledge & become better at my career- why not?
Why not? That was the question I asked myself.
What do I have to lose?
Maybe a few hundred dollars in purchasing books from Amazon. But people spend more than that on cigarettes and booze. I will spend that money on improving myself.
This was more of an experimental challenge for me. I wanted to see if it was humanly possible to read 50 Books in a year. I was not going to win any award. Perhaps I can brag to my friends. But I was inspired to do it,
Brian Tracy’s advice inspired me. And 2015 was the year to do it. And I got started on January 1st.
Benefits I have experienced
Over the years I have read many books – needless to say this has been one of the best habits I have cultivated in my life.
In one of my previous posts I mentioned how important reading is to your career, and how it improves your productivity & your career.
Here are some of the Benefits I have gained by reading 50 Books this year.
a) Increased Knowledge
OK- this is really obvious. The more reading you do the more knowledgable you become. You probably know this. But this point is worth repeating.
I chose to read mainly personal development, business, sales, self-help books. And each of these books were filled with nuggets of information, ideas that I can use to improve my career.
Some of the cool ideas I learnt about this year are:
- How to learn any skill faster
- How to go about negotiating complex deals.
- That charisma is not something you are born with but rather something that can be cultivated
- Google is working on improving our life expectancy to over age 100
- About Gloria Steinem who was credited to be the greatest influencer in the 60s Feminist movement.
- How sneaky advertisers are and that they know more about us than we do.
The list goes on…
Some of the insights I learnt from reading these books have helped me in my job – especially negotiation.
Did you know that by just flinching and not saying a word – you might get a huge discount?
b) Increased Motivation
Motivation,Passion, Inspiration – all these words are so common these days. You can’t go a day without reading about any of this.
Why is motivation important? It pushes you to get your job done and complete the tasks at done.
We all have those moments when we get stuck or lose the drive. And in moments like those we need strategies to get us out of the funk.
Throughout the year I have had periods where I was not motivated, I did not want to do anything, I was stuck – but thanks to the books I have read- I was able to push through.
I was reading a book on Selling, and the ideas in the book really pumped me up. I wanted to apply those strategies at work. I wanted to get to work just so that I can apply the ideas.
A few weeks ago I was feeling extremely stressed at work. I was having one of those weeks where nothing was going in my favour. Prospects were not buying, nobody was picking up the phone, and I was scared that I am stuck in my job with no hope. Just then a thought popped into my mind –Go to the Balcony.
That thought urged me to step out of the office to re-collect my thoughts ,and calm down. That allowed me to release the stress, and get back to work more relaxed. Ever since that I am having a great time at work.
c) Ideas to write
I actively started writing posts for this blog in June this year. As you can imagine writing blog posts isn’t an easy task. It is fun when the post is finished and some of your posts get exposure and shares. But the process itself could be stressful.
The most stressful thing about writing or blogging it to come up with topics to write about. If you are a blogger you can probably relate to this.
Thanks to my reading habit – I am able to increase the topics that I can write on. This particular post came as a result of my reading habit :).
Many of the articles that I write – I share the ideas & concepts I have picked up from few of the books I have read. This also allows me to recall the ideas and stories that I have read about.
When did I read?
I was trying to follow Brian Tracy’s advice – “Read an hour a day and that will help you finish one book a week”.
However, this was difficult in the beginning.
I was driving to work each day – which took away 2 hours a day. At that point,I had to force myself to read in the evenings. I had to make time in my schedule to read.
The only time I could find was before going to bed. Initially I cut off Television, Internet and Netflix. I read 30 to 40 minutes at night before going to bed. I found this mentally and physically exhausting. The commute, the winter and the fatigue from exercise were all putting a burden on my reading goals.
But despite all that I ploughed through and kept on reading.
One of the best decisions I made was to keep track by creating an excel spreadsheet.
Check out this spreadsheet for a list of all the books I have read this year.
As quoted by Peter Drucker – “What gets measured, gets done”.
I know it sounds lame to use an excel spreadsheet for a reading habit. But trust me, it will really keep you accountable. You don’t need a fancy app or an expensive software for this. Just use an excel spreadsheet.
It will be one of the best self-accountability tools you can create for yourself.
In January I was yet to finish reading my 1st book.
By May 2015 my progress was slow – I had only read 9 books till date. Half of the year was almost over and I only read 9 books. I had lots of catching up to do.
Then something amazing happened.
I got a new job. And I also decided to ditch my car. I decided to take advantage of public transit.
My commute time was a bit higher -1 hour on the way to work and another 1 hour on the way back. The best thing about this was that I did not have to drive. So I can concentrate on reading.
This is where things started accelerating my reading habit.
I had 2 hours of reading time available for me. And I took advantage of that.
From June 2015 to Oct 2015 ( a little over 5 months) I was able to ramp up to read the next 41 books.
I hit my goal with another 8 weeks to go before the end of the year.
That commute time was the magic. I put that time to good use.
I did not necessarily finish every book I started. Some books did not resonate with me. I quickly scrapped those books off my list and went on to the next one.
WHAT BOOKS DID I READ?
As mentioned before, I created a simple spreadsheet to track my progress. Here is the link.
All the books I read were non-fiction.
I personally do not read fiction. My thought process on fiction is that if the book is good enough – they will eventually make a Hollywood movie. And when the movie released I will just watch that.
This chart shows the different Genres of the 50 Books I finished reading so far this year.
As you can notice most of the books I have read were in the Self-Help Category. To simplify I have lumped motivation,life lessons, etc. all into self-help.
The next highest genre I read was books on Sales. Since that is my https://ca.linkedin.com/in/nissarahamed it made total sense to read more on the subject to improve my skill-set.
I purchased most of the Books from Amazon (36 out of 50) . The rest I borrowed from the Public Library or others.
Had I known that I was going to be spending a lot of money at Amazon- I should have purchased some Amazon stocks early this year. Damn!!
The author I read the most was Grant Cardone (4 books). The next authors I read most were Peter Diamandis, William Ury, Josh Kauffman (2 books each).
The Top 3 books that have had the strongest impact on my life this year are:
- The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone
- The 12 Week Year by Brian P Moran & Micheal Lennington
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
I will be writing individual articles to summarize the most important lessons I have learnt from each of these books.
In summary – 2015 was the best year in terms of the number of books I have read. There are 7 more weeks to go and I have already read 50 books. I spent $463 this year on purchasing books. I think that investment has paid off and will continue to yield more results in the coming years.
As mentioned previously in the post, I have learnt a lot, I have got more productive, my income has gone up and I am in the best shape of my life. And numerous other benefits.
In the coming posts I will write reviews on most of the books I have finished this year.