Goal Squad

Do you want to read more books in 2019? ME TOO! Let’s do this together. With a bit of preparation and a plan, you can get started today.

Here’s how I approach a new reading challenge each January:
* set a numeric goal
* choose a tracking system
* pick a challenge
* share it

Simple, right? It really IS that easy. I can sense you may be skeptical so give me 3 more minutes to convince you.

Pick a number and map it out. Setting a goal serves as a guide not a mandate. Remember, you can adjust it later! A good place to begin with a new goal is by looking in the rear view mirror. How many books did you read last year? Can you do that again? Feel like you could read more? If you didn’t meet last year’s goal, don’t worry, you can reuse it! Maybe you didn’t set a goal last year so you don’t know where to start. Why not one book a month? (For the longest time my annual goal was 12 books. My babies were really young, I was in the parenting vortex of newborns and toddlers, dreaming about sleep yet still carving out a few minutes in the day to get lost in a book. My monthly book group gatherings were a calendar highlight and motivated me. I never wanted to miss out on the discussion, plus there was wine. 🙂 )

If you’re going to commit to a goal you should keep track of it. Start a list in your notes app on your iPhone, create a spreadsheet, use the Goodreads app, or select a paper notebook for this purpose. One word of advice here, make reading a daily habit like hydration or exercise. You’ll find that your tracking will be fueled with positivity and optimism instead of negativity and dread.

So you’ve set a goal and you’re going to maintain a list of those books. Now what? There are millions of excellent books out there waiting for you. That can be both intimidating and inviting. I suggest creating or joining a challenge. Here are 8 motivating options for your consideration:
1–Book Riot curates a list of tasks called the “Read Harder Challenge.” Check it out here: https://bookriot.com/2018/12/12/2019-read-harder-challenge/
2–Participate in the Goodreads challenge. You can see what your friends are reading and rating and add interesting titles to your list.
3–Try a new genre each month (I did this in 2018 and discovered I love memoirs, especially on audio when narrated by the author.)
4–Pick 10 countries you’d like to visit and read books set in those places. Wanderlust is strong here, get your book passports stamped!
5–Choose a literary award and read the shortlisted titles. (ie National Book Award, Booker Prize, Orange, Pen, Nobel, Pulitzer, Newbery, Coretta Scott King.)
6–Reread the classics you were assigned in high school or college. (Possibly better the second time around, also no prom drama.)
7–Select 10 authors you’ve loved reading in the past and read another book by them. (I also love playing the matchmaker game, where you tell me an author you like and I pair you with another author whom I think will delight you. Try me!)
8–Read books by authors who share different identities than yours (race, sexuality, culture, religion, gender, nationality, etc.)

Sharing is key. Whisper it to one person or blast it on social media. Either way, tell someone what you’re aiming to accomplish. Your friends and family want to see you succeed. You may even inspire them to join you! I highly recommend sharing this with the kids in your life. They’ll see you role modeling reading as a positive behavior while trying to do something challenging. Kids often have the impression that both of those things are easy for adults. One fun tradition in my family is a celebratory ‘book dance.’ It’s like a touchdown dance when you finish a book. The reader exclaims ‘hey guys, guess what, I just finished my book!’ and the rest of us whoop and cheer and chant ‘book dance, book dance.’ IT IS TOTALLY AWESOME. A goal is a dream with a deadline. Get your cheerleaders on board and start dancing!

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