Reading – The No.1 habit of successful people

“The person who deserves most pity is a lonesome one on a rainy day who doesn’t know how to read.” – Benjamin Franklin

I remember the first time I read a book (apart from my academic books of course! ).

I was maybe 8 years old and it was a book about Ants. I had to read it for an extracurricular exam.

It was a very small book. And I finished it in a week or so. I got to know a great deal about Ants and that felt great.

But I realized something else from that exercise. There is a whole new world out there with lots of interesting things and books are the way to know all about it.

That left a lasting impression on my young mind!

I have made it a point from then on to read books as often as possible. And this has done a lot of positive impact on my life.


 Why start reading?

According to a recent survey, the average number of books read by a CEO is 60 books per year.

In his book The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg introduces a concept called “Keystone Habits”.

In short, these are the kind of habits, if you develop, will not only impact the primary area of your life but also the other areas of your life.

I strongly believe reading is one such keystone habit.

As I mentioned earlier, this world has a lot to offer. We can’t experience everything ourselves.

Someone else would have already experienced it and they would have written about it. You can get to know all about it by reading about that.

Reading opens up your mind to various interesting ideas, concepts and stories.

Reading gives you perspective and it broadens your thinking.

I do not have to go into the scientific benefits of reading.
But you don’t have to read for the scientific benefits alone. 
Reading can be pure fun and engaging at the same time!
There is no specific rule on what to read. There is literally a countless number of different categories of books available to cater to everyone’s taste.
The important thing is you have to start.

How to develop reading?

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller
Reading – just like any other habit has to be developed over time.

You have to consciously include this in your daily routine.

As an avid reader myself, I can point you to some of the steps I have taken to develop this habit.

1. Read a topic of your liking

You cannot pick up an autobiography of Nelson Mandela if you like to read fiction. 
You would be bored to death! 
The idea is not to force yourself into liking a book. Instead, start off with something which you like. You can always venture into other areas once you have developed a liking towards reading.

Pick up a book which you can easily read without straining your mind too much.

You do not have to read a book in the English language itself. I am pretty sure there are equally important and amazing books in your native language. 

I read self-help, non-fiction a lot. But I used to read a lot of mystery books at the beginning.

2. Start with a small book

I have seen people pick up a book with 450 pages when they are trying to develop the habit and the next thing you know, they will lose interest pretty fast and give up.
A big book might intimidate you. Your mind will tell, you won’t be able to finish this, so why try after all?
Start with something small instead. 
Even an article or a blog post every day on your favorite topic will do just fine.

Our mind likes to accomplish things.

Once you finish that small book, your mind gets a huge boost and you feel that you have accomplished something.

]You are most likely to give one more book a try.

3. Read every day or at least as often as possible

Read every day for at least 20 minutes. 

It might be a little difficult at the beginning, but push yourself to complete at least 10 pages in a day.
It is important to motivate yourself during the early stages of this habit. Once it becomes automatic, you will effortlessly read every day.
One of the best ways to incorporate this is if you commute to work daily, then keep a book with you.

And the next time you reach for your phone, take out your book instead.
This is something I have been doing from the last year or so.

4. Set a time for reading

Schedule reading in your calendar and set a reminder for it.

Because as they say, “What gets scheduled, gets done”. 

We are all crammed for the time in our busy lives today. And we often forget things if they are not scheduled.
But if you get a reminder on your phone then chances are you might read at least for some time. 
I have set up a reminder every day during my morning commute to read. Although it has become automatic now, I still prefer to have a reminder.

5. Try an audiobook

I know a lot of people who don’t like reading a whole book. It bores them too much.
Well, there are alternative solutions available (thanks to today’s technology).
Audible is one such solution. 
It’s an audiobook service from Amazon. A complete book is read by very good voice artists, famous actors and in some cases the authors themselves.
I have tried a few of the audiobooks myself and they are a really good alternative for those who find reading a complete book an exhausting endeavor. 
Although I prefer reading on my Kindle or an actual book. Somehow the experience is unmatched compared to audiobooks.



“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary” – Jim Rohn

It’s amazing in this day and age that people still buy books and people still read.

Reading is one of the oldest traits which hasn’t been replaced by something new. And that speaks a lot about this habit.


I mean sure, you can enjoy a nice movie or a TV show or even a documentary.

But the art of storytelling is best enjoyed when you read a book.

So the next time you reach out for your phone or the remote during your leisure, I encourage you to pick up a book instead.

You will thank yourself later!

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Bharath Sirgur

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