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.
Have you ever heard the word ‘chazown’? Probably not, unless you read Craig Groeschel’s incredible book about finding your vision. He reveals to us that ‘chazown’ is actually the Hebrew word for vision.
You know, in the recent years I’ve been meeting more and more people who don’t know their purpose, their vision in life. At the same time they would desperately want to find out what God had in mind when He created them. Are you one of those people? What is your vision? What is your calling?
There are three powerful steps that will help you find your chazown. According to Craig Groeschel, the first step you need to take is define your core values.
What do you value the most in your life? What stirs up righteous anger inside of you? What drives you when you make your most important decisions? It can be your family, freedom, faith, discipline, success, humility, patience, justice, kindness, relationships, giving, etc.
Make a list of your 5-7 values and set it aside. We will come back to it.
Your next step will be to identify your gifts and talents.
Gifts and Talents
Think about your strengths. What are you really good at? What are you passionate about and enjoy doing the most? When you’re engaged in this activity, you sometimes lose track of time. Try to remember the last time other people were saying you’re really good at something. Take a note of that skill.
Is there anything you secretly believe you can do, but you’ve never tried? You might even dream of doing it one day, but for some reason you have doubts and fears. What do you do that seems to have the most effect on other people?
The answers to all these questions and hints will help you make a list of your gifts and talents. You can call them your strengths as well.
Finally, we’re coming to the third step. Think of the main events in your life, negative and positive, which influenced you the most. These experiences shaped you into who you are today. Usually, these are emotionally strong episodes which left a noticeable trace in your memory.
After you remembered the events (it helps to draw a timeline with milestones), think what they all have in common. How are you different inwardly because of what you enjoyed and endured?
Got the list of past experiences? Now you’re ready to bring it all together and write a one-sentence purpose statement that describes your vision or ‘chazown’.
Bringing it all together
The final step in this process will include some drawing. Are you up for it? You’ll need to draw three circles on a piece of paper like you see on the picture.
Locate the part where all three circles overlap. This red part is your ‘chazown’. Ok, this is just a graphic representation of your vision. Now, let’s get to the purpose statement itself.
Put all three lists in front of you: your core values, gifts and talents and your past experiences. What do they have in common? Write down all similarities and let them inspire to answer the following questions: Is there something specific God is calling you to do starting now or sometime in the future? What possible title could be for the next chapter of your life?
Think of one action-focused sentence and let it motivate you to move forward in your life. May it serve you and many other people around you!
Please, share your purpose statements in the comments below to inspire others. I will look forward to hearing from you.
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?