Do you have a busy life? What a silly question. We all do. This is the era of busy people. But you know what? I read a quote not that long ago, that ‘busy is a decision’. We create our impossible schedules and become their prisoners. And then we’re forced to answer to our friends and family: “I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m really busy.”
Have you ever wondered how you could start reading more books in the midst of your hectic life? It seems almost impossible to find time if you have several kids, a demanding job, a husband or a wife. Or maybe you have none of that, but your schedule is so full there seems to be no time for reading.
When I was a kid, I used to go to the library to choose a new book. It was always a magical time and one of my favorite activities. You go from one bookshelf to another, looking through the names of book and writers. It’s so peaceful and quiet. You’re deciding which world you’d like to immerse yourself into this time.
And then life happened – university, work, a busy schedule, new priorities, and as a result – only a few books a year.
I remember craving books. I remember being hungry for more reading. It even inspired me to take speed reading classes so I could devour more books in less time. And still, it wasn’t enough. More tasks, longer to-do lists and new responsibilities kept creeping into my life and pushing books out of it.
However, there was one decision which changed everything for me. About two years ago I made reading one of my life priorities. I set a goal to read 50 books a year, and … I read only 25. Do you think it was a failure? Not at all! It was twice more than the year before.
The next year I set a goal to read 30 books and … succeeded!!!
So, here’re a few ideas for you to start reading more even though your life gets busier every month of the year.
Make reading your priority.
It doesn’t have to be your number one priority, but at least it shouldn’t be at the end of the list. Remind yourself why you want to start reading more. Is it a relaxing time for you when you unwind and recharge? Is it important for your personal growth and professional development? Define your WHY.
2. Listen to audiobooks while running, walking, cleaning or doing other chores.
Sometimes I even listen to audiobooks when I’m brushing my teeth or taking a shower (if I don’t have to wash my hair :)). If you sign up for a half or a full marathon, you’ll have plenty of time to listen to your audiobooks during training runs.
3. Read on commute.
This is a popular advice for reading more and also for using time productively. If you have to travel by public transportation to or from work, always carry a book with you. You’ll enjoy this time more and at the same time feel like you’ve spent it very efficiently.
4. Choose small books every once in a while. Alternate between big and small.
Sometimes people take books which are too big and too boring for them just because someone said they’re good. Choose the ones which will excite you, enchant you, or fascinate you. Even if it’s an educative, self-help book, it may be absolutely engrossing if you learn something new or see a real value in it.
Alternate between big, complicated books and small easy books. Here’s the list of short classic books that won’t take much of your time but will enrich you and fascinate you. Follow this link to read the article in Huffington post.
5. Read at least 15 minutes after waking up and 15 minutes before going to bed.
Consistency is the key. If you make a decision to read a little bit, but regularly, you will be amazed by your progress. Most of the time people think: “I don’t have time now. I have to get to bed,” or “I have to go to work.” But if it’s just 10-15 minutes it will feel like nothing, and, at the same time, it will be enough to help you finish the book in a few weeks or months.
Try some of these tips and share your own advice. What helped you start reading more? What books would you recommend me? I love sci-fi, drama, historical, self-help, psychological, business and many other types of books.
Do you consider yourself a free person? Ok, let me ask you a different question then. Have you ever thought about bonds and chains that might hold you back? What prevents you from moving forward and growing? What keeps you from reaching your goals? What limits your freedom?
You know, a few days ago I read a story about elephants who were standing in a row waiting on their trainer. These huge animals were held only by a small rope tied to their front leg. A passing-by man was astonished by this fact and asked for an explanation. The trainer told him that those elephants had been held by the same rope since they were little. It had been enough for them then. As they grew up, they were conditioned to believe they couldn’t break away. So, they never even tried.
Sometimes, we have the same ropes. They are tiny. They are weak and almost invisible, but we allow them to hold us and we never even try to break free.
The first thing we need to do is to admit there are such ropes. Self-awareness is always the key. Let’s look at a few examples, and maybe you will find your own chains and ropes.
These are only a few possible chains. There might be many more. So, what are we going to do with them?
Being aware of such bonds is the first step. Next, you should try to take notice every time this feeling, emotion or a thought appears and tries to take charge. Giving it place and letting it control your actions and your life is the clear way to lose freedom.
After you notice the emotion and prevent it from controlling you several times in a row, it will lose power over you. It’s like forming a good habit or getting rid of a bad habit. The first step – take notice. The next step – take action by confronting it. The third step – repeat and remember to condition yourself for future behavior.
Of course, there’s more to be said on the topic of forming good habits, but I will just refer you to an awesome Neuroplasticity course on Udemy by Gregory Caremans. He explains it in very much detail and with a lot of exercises.
So, what chains are you trying to break these days? Share in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!
Find Your Superpowers
- Ask your friends and family, people who know you well. They will tell you, what you’re really great at.
- Ask yourself a question – what am I most passsionate about?
- There might be something you always secretly wanted to do and kind of thought you may be good at it. What is it? It could be one of your strengths.
- Remember what people usually thank you for. Which of your actions do they praise most of the time?
- What do you love doing so much that you lose track of time while being immersed into the activity?
Now, analyse all your answers and make a list of your strengths and talents. Here are some examples to help you with ideas: empathy, strategic thinking, sense of humor, helpfulness, analytical skills, discipline, organizer, encourager, design, cooking, gardening, problem solving, etc.
Use Your Superpowers
As soon as you have your list, it’s time to put it to action.
Choose one strength which you would like to focus on now. It could be something you really need in your current or future job. At the same time, it might be a talent which you always wanted to develop but never had time for it.
After choosing one strength to work on, make an action plan with specific, measurable and time-oriented steps which will help you take this strength on another level. You may want to make a little research. Look for books, podcasts, courses and videos on your topic. Learn as much as possible.
One of the best ways to develop your strength is to actually use it. Seek possibilities to apply your talent at work. Go to your boss and offer to participate in a project which complements your gifts. Start a project of your own on the side. Start a business.
Finally, I got an advice for you. Marcus Buckingham wrote a very practical book on this topic called ‘Put Your Strengths to Work’. It gives you several specific steps and tools on how to focus on your talents and start using them in life more. Check it out.
Now, I’d like to hear from you. Please, share one or two of your strengths and tell us how you apply them in your life and work.
What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase ‘personal growth’ or ‘personal development’? Does it make you cringe because you heard it too often? Or does it make you feel proud and hopeful because that’s what you’re working on constantly?
One morning I was running near the lake listening to a great audiobook recommended to me by my friend. It was ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi. The book is autobiographical depicting Paul’s struggles to fight cancer. He was a talented neurosurgeon and an aspiring writer. Most of his life he was studying to be a neurosurgeon or working as one but always dreaming to one day become a writer. And only by the end of his life when he knew he didn’t have much left he decided to write his first and last book.
I vividly remember the very place I was running by when I heard this quote. It was right by the benches near the lake when the narrator said: “Darwin and Nietzsche agreed on one thing: the defining characteristic of the living organism is striving.”
As a matter of fact, I am not a big fan of both Darwin and Nietzsche. I do respect their intelligence but absolutely disagree with their beliefs. However, this quote became an inspiring metaphor for me. It showed that each living being is characterised by striving. Striving to survive. Striving to grow. Striving to succeed.
Tony Robbins once said: “When we stop growing, we stop living.” Somebody else might have said it before him, but that’s not the point. The main idea is to continually develop, grow and learn.
Gregory Caremans, the founder of the Brain Academy, in his Udemy Neuroplasticity course explains very clearly why our brain must have new experiences on a regular basis and must constantly learn something new.
So, to sum up, let me give you 5 reasons why I think personal growth is an absolute necessity for each human being.
- It helps our brain grow constantly and keeps it from shrinking.
- It prevents such diseases as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- It gives us more confidence and more opportunities.
- It helps us stay alive and at the top of the game.
- Life is just more fun with it.
So, continue growing, developing, learning, acquiring new skills and habits. Life will present you more opportunities to grow as soon as you show interest in it. There’s always a chance to read another book.
What are your favorite ways of growing personally?
Have you ever seen a superhero movie? Wouldn’t you want to possess at least one of those superpowers?
I’m a big sci-fi fan and love all kinds of movies about non-existent universes and people with supernatural abilities. It fascinates me to see what human beings can do when we get in touch with our talents and strengths.
There’s one more important fact you’ve got to know about me – I’m a strong believer in the power of human potential. I believe we all have incredible God-given potential which is not realized to the fullest. We might not even know we have it and just live our life from day to day in total ignorance about our hidden ‘superpowers’.
What makes me really sad is that the majority of people don’t use their gifts and don’t work in the areas of their strengths. Can you imagine the world where all people realize their talents and develop their strengths? Just think how happy everyone would be! It’s an amazing feeling when you know you’re using your gifts.
What a beautiful world it would be!
I want to challenge you to think about your own talents, gifts and strengths. If you don’t know, ask your closest friends and family. People around you might help you uncover those gifts. As soon as you find out your strengths, start using them for the greater good, for improving the level of your own life and the life of people around you.
Let’s make this world a better place where everyone is using his or her potential to the fullest!
Why do you think the topic of sleep is so popular nowadays? There are books and researches, articles and blog posts, infographics and videos on this topic. Everybody is ready to offer an opinion. Everyone seems to know so much about it.
I’ve been experimenting with my sleep for several years now. About two years ago it became particularly crucial for me to have more hours in a day. I’m a full-time missionary who is also teaching English on the side and owns her own business. Three full-time jobs demand a lot of time, that’s why training my body to sleep less became a new challenge.
What To Remember
If you think you can just decide to sleep less and start your new life easily, you’re in for a big surprise. Unless you’re one of very few people with gene called hDEC2, it will be pretty hard to retrain your body. You may function pretty normally one or two days, but soon sleep deprivation will kick in.
Also, there’s one very important fact to remember – we all need at least 7 hours of sleep. Every source I’ve read shouts loud and clear that 6 hours of sleep or less is not enough for our body to function normally during the day. Therefore, if you normally sleep more than 8 hours, it’s probably a good idea to train your body to sleep less. Otherwise, learn how to be more efficient during the day, and make sure you get your 7 magical hours.
Sacrificing your sleep won’t help you to be more productive. Your brain won’t generate creative ideas or solve intellectual problems on the level you want it to. Your body will lose its strength, so you won’t perform serious physical tasks as well as before.
What To Do
Here’re a few tips I can give you based on my own experience:
- When reading various books and articles, listening to other people’s advise, always keep in mind that we’re all different. If something worked for one person, it doesn’t mean it will work for you.
- Increase self-awareness by understanding your personal sleep-cycles, best night and morning routines and the amount of sleep you need.
- Experiment with the number of hours you need to feel rested. Allow yourself to wake up without an alarm clock a few nights in a row. Keep record of the time you went to bed and woke up to learn how many hours of sleep are ideal for you.
- Don’t stay in bed after you wake up. Majority of people are lazy by nature, that’s why we may allow ourselves to keep sleeping when our body doesn’t need it anymore.
- Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. It’s more natural for our bodies to prepare for the night after it’s getting dark outside. On the other hand, the sunlight helps us wake up naturally. A lot of processes in our body are connected with the amount of sunlight we receive during the day.
So, the answer to our big question ‘Should you train your body to need less sleep?’ would depend on the amount of hours you sleep now. If it’s more than 7-8 hours, definitely try to retrain your body. Too much sleep can be as dangerous as too little of it. There’re only 20% of people who need more than 8 hours of sleep according to BBC.
At the same time, if you sleep 7-8 hours every night, enjoy it and learn how to use the rest of the day more efficiently.