If you asked me what is my mentor, I could name you at least 20 people that transformed my thinking with their stories, ideas, careers and actions. But if I was forced to choose only one mentor in life, I would choose a book. I’m still fascinated by how much you can change by reading a single book. People who might have been the best mentors in the world are not among us anymore, books carry decades and centuries of knowledge and wisdom. It’s foolish not to read.
Invest in yourself
Give up blogs, social media, TV and dedicate at least 30 minutes a day for reading. Books tend to be more researched and better written as there are editors working on the book before publishing it.
It must be the only shortcut to learning more in less time. People spent thousands of hours thinking, researching, writing and rewriting books and you can access them anywhere in the world in less than a minute and start reading.
Books cost money. That’s true. But it costs more money not reading them. Tomorrow morning you will get your favorite cup of coffee like many mornings before. But how does it contribute to your future? You may feel good while drinking but that’s it. Now books is a different story. It’s the wisest investment in yourself. It opens your mind, widens your perspective and inspires you to take action. Instead of drinking three cups of coffee or any other drink, invest in a book. Just a single idea in that book can change your life.
Smart is sexy
This is where the power of books is hidden. You may read a book and won’t make sense of it, but you will eventually notice how much easier you can come up with a solution to a certain problem just because you read that book. You will slowly become more knowledgeable in different topics, your brain will make creative connections and allow you to become a superhuman.
You can tell me smart is not sexy but talking to an attractive person who is also smart and knowledgeable, curious and willing to learn, is the sexiest thing in the world. Knowledge breeds confidence, probably the most important difference between successful and unsuccessful people.
I wasn’t reading that much in school because I didn’t have a choice, I was forced to read. Now as I travel, I rediscovered reading and learning from books. I got obsessed with reading.
I failed my yearly Goodreads challenge of reading 12 books in 2015. What a shame. After reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, I understood that reading is a lot about what you read. If you are very much into the subject or the story you will enjoy reading and it will get you closer to transforming yourself into the person you want to become.
I don’t have regrets in life unless it’s reading. As I wrote earlier I want to read 1000 great books before I die. After failing to read 12 books last year I realized that with my past reading habits I won’t even read 100 books in my life.
I had to change things up and make reading my priority. I included it into my morning routine and I am already 2 books ahead of my Goodreads challenge of reading 24 books in 2016.
The simple thing that I changed was I made time for reading. Right after waking up, drinking water, stretching, eating and meditating I am reading 20 pages. Not when I feel like reading but every morning just 20 pages. It takes only 25–30 minutes with my reading speed.
I already read the following books this year:
- Design for Founders by Heidi Pungartnik
- Startup Growth Engines by Sean Ellis
- Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Stop Thinking Like a Freelancer by Liam Veitch
- Content Machine by Dan Norris
- The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser (Currently reading)
I’ve found a shortcut to reading more
Surprise, there are no shortcuts. All my life I am looking for shortcuts. I just think I am smart and I can trick the system. I tried to learn speed-reading, I tried to listen to audiobooks, I tried to watch illustrated book animations with main points explained, I tried to read only summaries of the books. Nothing worked.
First, I would feel I’m cheating on myself. Second, I would see reading as some hard labor that required sucking all the useful knowledge and leaving irrelevant information inside of the book.
After failing to cheat the system, I accepted the fact that I can read more by spending more time reading and enjoying it. My habit of reading began as a strict task, to read for 30 minutes. I’d read and look at my watch to see how many minutes left. When I started to choose what I am excited to read about I noticed how much I loved reading. I noticed how I would simply read and not look at the watch only when I could remember to see that I was reading for more than 30 minutes. I love reading.
I see reading as mentorship. I truly believe in the environment and its effect on your behaviour and outcomes. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” says Jim Rohn. I couldn’t agree more with it. If you spend an hour hanging out with a person or you spend an hour reading a book, the book becomes one out of five people you hang out with. If you read successful people, people who spent years researching and writing the book, you instantly become richer, smarter and ready to grow more.
If you don’t believe in the power of books, Elon Musk, a real-life ironman, literally taught himself rocket science by reading books and talking to industry heavyweights.
Have a book with you at all times
I used to read physical books, it would give me a sense of achievement as I’d flip pages but that is simply not convenient when traveling. It’s not eco-friendly and makes it hard to get rid of it. I switched to my iPhone, I know, you’re surprised as much as I was, but I actually enjoy it very much. I started out with the Kindle app, read 3 books and then decided to give a try to a subscription based service.
Scribd looked like a great option. Just recently they have changed their rules but it’s still a pretty good deal if you read a lot. For only $8.99/month you get 3 books and 1 audiobook. If you are interested in Scribd, give it a try, it’s free for 60 days and you can use it on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Why would you read in the morning?
Not necessary in the morning. I do it right after waking up just because it allows me to get creative into the thinking, after reading I get a sense of achievement as I go and update my Goodreads profile with my progress and I see how closer to my goal I am. Also, it gives me a good feeling of investing in myself, I know that in the long run I will become smarter and more knowledgeable about any topic. Whether it’s writing, public speaking or simply talking to another person, it will make me more interesting and valuable person to connect with. Morning is a great time to invest in yourself, so is reading.
Tomas Laurinavicius is a traveling lifestyle entrepreneur and blogger from Lithuania. He writes about habits, lifestyle design, and entrepreneurship on his blog and weekly lifestyle design newsletter. Tomas is currently traveling the world with a mission to empower 1 million people to change lifestyle for good. This post originally ran at tomaslau.com.