Goals + Reading Goals + 100 Books That Changed Me

Have you ever worked towards a goal only to reach it and find yourself shocked you actually did it?

That is me right now.

Audacious Goals

I set a goal at the end of 2019 to read one hundred books in 2020. The most I’ve ever read in a year is thirty books. Why did I more than triple my highest accomplishment? I have no idea. In fact, I can’t even tell you why I set this goal. No prize was awarded. No recognition given. It just felt like a random thought turned into a slight prompting.

I’m filled with mixed emotions. I’m proud of myself. I don’t always follow through well. I tend to go hard in the beginning, new phase and lose steam quickly only to find I forgot about it completely. I’m also sad when I see something that was truly a work of love come to an end. I’ve changed this year because of much I read. God directed my reading, and I’m filled with awe that He led me to do something like reading, which brought so much joy, yet so much growth simultaneously.

Will I set this goal next year? No way. I need to slow my reading pace. I read so many incredible books I wish I’d had the luxury of marinating in longer. I’d complete one and jump immediately to the next where normally I’d contemplate for a time before moving on.

Am I glad I went for it? For sure, yes! I think working towards something brings such a sense of personal reward and accomplishment. Life is hard and working on hard things by choice helps us when the moments we find ourselves in aren’t by choice. We can do hard things. I also feel personal growth is important. It doesn’t happen by accident. We must decide to intentionally grow if we want to grow.

The former accountant in me created a spreadsheet of my books. I really wanted to see how many books made up each genre. Did I branch out at all or stick to what I love most?

One of the most common questions I received regarding my year of reading is how in the world I have time to read so much.

How to create more time to read:

  1. Cut out television. I’m not a big tv watcher anyway, so this was not hard for me.
  2. Cut out podcasts. I do love podcasts, but took a break for this year and replaced with audiobooks.
  3. Listen to audiobooks. You’d be surprised how many books you can listen to as you drive, cook, or do household chores.
  4. Limit social media scrolling.
  5. Don’t have phone anywhere near you while reading.
  6. Become a book quitter. For me nothing is worse than dreading the thought of picking up a book that I find boring or uninteresting. My limit is 100 pages to grab my attention.

Benefits of Reading More

  • Increased attention span. I noticed myself learning to give my attention for longer stretches of time this year. We live in such a fast, give it to me right now world and our attention spans suffer for it.
  • Greater focus. I learned this year just how distracted I am. Focusing on simply a book rather than all the notifications calling my attention was a gift.
  • Personal growth. The books I read this year grew me. I was changed by reading new ideas and old ideas alike this year. I read books that gave me perspective and insight.
  • Empathy/compassion. Reading takes you on a journey. You walk alongside characters you begin to feel are a part of your life. All the emotions are moments of this journey and when it ends you look back and see you are a more compassionate person simply from taking part in the story of another.
  • Escape. If ever there was a year to escape, 2020 holds the title. Reading provides a healthy escape. It was a gift for me to focus on stories rather than the craziness of this year.
  • Bonding. When you read aloud with your children, bonding is a byproduct. Bonding with my kids over stories is one of my favorites.
  • No screen needed. It feels everything is on a screen these days. To me it is a relief to sit with a physical book or slip my headphones on for a listen and leave the screen world behind.

Here’s the Breakdown

  • 57 out of 100 books were audio. This was not a surprise. I have more time to listen than to sit with a book. However, listening does not come easy and is a skill I’ve been working on for quite some time now.
  • Genres:
    • Fiction -8
    • Historical Fiction – 8
    • Classics – 7
    • Children’s Lit/YA – 20
    • Christian Living – 30
    • Non-Fiction – 12
    • Parenting – 1
    • True Story/ Memoir – 14
  • Books quit: 3

How about you? Did you work on something in 2020 you are proud of? Honestly, surviving 2020 is an accomplishment. What a year it’s been.

I’ve been less active here than I prefer. Now I’m asking the Lord what exactly does He want of me in 2021. Do I keep writing? Do I change directions? This is a typical December pondering for me.

While I ponder what the future holds for me, I’m compiling my list of books I read in 2020. So stay tuned for the list of what I read and what I loved.

Blessings to each of you!!