Finding it hard to read personal growth books ~ How to stay motivated

Strive Karadzangare | May 31, 2022

What motivated me to pen this blog series, was a realisation that several young people that I met, expressed an interest in developing a reading habit, but were finding it hard to do so. Many of them were ambitious young people, who were eager to boost their knowledge and to increase their odds of being successful. Undoubtedly, if they were to read life-stories and perspectives offered by successful people in their books they would benefit a lot. However, several of them expressed that they were finding it hard to develop a reading habit.

I quickly remembered that, I too once found it hard to enjoy reading personal growth books until I stumbled upon a great book by Steve Covey entitled, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Some of the books that I had ever picked before felt uninteresting, but this one was particularly different. It was so engaging that I easily lost myself in the book. My discovery of the book was really a tipping point. After that encounter, I have since grown fond of personal growth books. I shared my experience in the first part of this blog series, here, entitled:

From my experience I have since learned that, although, there is a vast pool of books to choose from, not all books will inspire a person the same way. Choosing a less engaging book will reduce a person's motivation to read, but choosing the right book will likely inspire someone to build an amazing reading habit.

I have since learned to rely on recommendations of highly engaging books that I get from other people. And thanks to that technique, I discovered several highly inspirational books that ignited in me a desire to read. I gave an account of how the technique has been beneficial to me, in the second part of the blog series, here, entitled:

Following the recommendation from a friend's, social media post, I discovered a small but great book entitled, Who Moved My Cheese, by Dr Spencer Johnson. It features a captivating way of storytelling. Using a fictional story of mice and two small men who were faced with drastic change, he divulges an important life lesson on dealing with the big changes that may complicate our lives at one point. Owing to the book's small size and an engaging style of storytelling, I naturally found it captivating read. I therefore encourage every budding reader to try it out. You can find the full recommendation and review in part three of the blog series, here, entitled:

From the preceding you may have noticed an emerging picture. I only found great pleasure in reading because I had attained the sufficient level of motivation for reading. Several factors helped me attain and maintain that motivation. For example, picking books based on my interests and recommendations from others, kept me engaged even as I read. Indeed, for anyone wherever to enjoy any activity, including reading, they have to build sufficient motivation for that.

Sadly, though, it's not all the times that you will have sufficient motivation to pick a highly engaging book and start reading it. At times we may be tired from daily obligations such as work, schooling, the long commutes or arduous household chores. Sometimes, social media is the culprit, especially for young people. It usually drains our motivation to read books. Therefore we need to take action to regain our motivation to read when we lose it because of our energy-sapping daily activities.

Reading small palatable chunks regularly

While it is true that our daily activities, may deprive us of the chance to read, we can still make progress by modifying our approach. When you find yourself impeded by time-related restrictrictions you have to adopt a "slow but sure" approach to reading. Just make sure to regularly take your reading in small chunks. Do not focus on the size of the book or how quickly you want to complete it. Doing so may intimidate you and snub you of your motivation altogether. Therefore, you need to take it slow and easy, but most of all remember to keep your progress in check, so that you won't gradually stop reading altogether. Additionally, to be successful with that, you have to discover the most convenient time (e.g it during early mornings or lunch breaks) when you have the best concentration to complete a small portion of your readings.

Listening to books and multitasking

If you have a severely packed schedule it may be hard for you to find an unoccupied time slot for your readings. Therefore, a good idea maybe scheduling your readings in conjunction with other routines which require less of your conscious attention, such as commuting, doing laundry, house cleaning and doing dishes. You may therefore find it most suitable to use audio books for that. Audio books are a great way to go over a book's content even in contexts where it would have been difficult to do so, using text based books. Furthermore many people generally express that they feel more motivated to read audio books than their text based counterparts. They are a great way to gain insight from a book when we generally lack the motivation to read.

Sometimes, however the lack of motivation reflects underlying issues about our habits and routines that we need to address.

Social media hacks for reading

For starters, social media has a particularly magnetic pull on many people because social media has a lot of thrilling new content to offer. And that's just what our brains like to give more attention to. Our brains are naturally wired to appropriate attention to activities that offer us new experiences and bring us great pleasure. So our brains will keep on craving more exciting content on social media to the effect that we may be tempted to postpone impending high priority tasks in favor of social media. We may therefore fail to notice as time flies past our wide open eyes. Often times, bedtime come to pass before we pick up that book that we promised ourselves to read. How may you unleash yourself and cultivate a desire to read ?

Interestingly, even though social media appears to be the villain in this case, you may be able to use it to your advantage. That's right you can configure your social media accounts to provide you some motivation to read or at least some cues to pick up a book. One way by which you may achieve that goal is by following popular social media accounts that regularly share book reviews or suggestions. A single interesting book suggestion post may be good enough to interrupt you from "endlessly scrolling" through social media posts. From that you will be reminded to pick a personal growth book to read. The other benefit of following book review social media accounts, is that you will discover diverse suggestions about interesting books that exist out there.

An instagram book review account. Here is the link to the account

Although, the previous suggestion will offer you cues to begin reading, you may have to take an extra step to avoid distractions. You may have to muster self-discipline and strictly refrain from checking social media posts when you want read. Sometimes that may imply putting away your electronic gadgets or completely turning off their internet connection. Additionally, some people find it helpful to refrain from social media soon after waking up because social media depletes their energy and ability to focus. Chronic social media use just after waking up, gives some people early morning fatigue and a reduced desire to complete high priority tasks. Therefore, some people choose postpone social media to some time after they have completed their scheduled readings, workouts and chores. They usually reap huge rewards from their self-discipline, and often report of feeling very productive.

Using early mornings for reading

Admittedly, everyone has a time when they feel most productive to read. Still however, early mornings are quite conducive for reading owing to the restorative effect of sleep. Sleep restores our energy. It also clears our minds of all the petty preoccupations, anxieties and frustrations that we cycle through each day. It restores the blank slate status of the mind. Almost every morning, we are ready to start on a fresh page. Wouldn't it be the best time to gorge ourselves with a portion of our favourite personal growth books?

Personal growth books are best served on a clean slate, a mind devoid of any distractions. To enjoy as you read, you have to be free to think deeply and reflect upon the expressions of the author. Any digression of thoughts should be aligned to the books content. If you cannot succeed in focusing on what you are reading, it will be just as if, a streams of words passing through a numb mind. Truthfully, you won't obtain much pleasure in reading if you read personal growth books that way.

Reading actively and thinking critically

A pleasurable way to read would require you to adopt an active and critical approach. With an active approach, you are free to explore the places, events and settings that the author lays out in the book. With an active imagination you feel like you are a first party observer to the accounts as they are related in the book. And with a pinch of critical thinking you can challenge the authors assumptions and biases, in their accounts. With a bit of some self-reflection, you can mirror some of the information to your context enabling you to identify biases in your thinking and ultimately work to correct them. Critical thinking will surely spice up your reading and help you to find pleasure in reading.

It is therefore imperative that you invest in developing the critical thinking skillset. Reflective notetaking, is a technique that may aid you with your critical thinking. Don't mind the wordy description of the technique. It's just a simple technique whereby you think deeply about what you would have read, so as to attach meaning, to draw lessons and to note interesting points from the material. You may then write those points down in your notepad. The more you realise new and unexpected connection between the material and your previous knowledge, the more you will be amazed. To add on to the fun, you may even share the notes with your friend and on social media so as to incite conversations on what you would have just learned.

I know of several people who enjoy sharing their reflective notes. I too enjoy using that technique. I use blog writing as an opportunity to do some reflective note taking. Since I strive to share diverse perspectives in my writings, I am only but compelled to read up on diverse topics. And since I yearn produce coherent articles, I am motivated to read rigourously and to reflect on the key take away points. That way, I aspire to churn out articles that feature interesting perspectives. I can therefore say that blogging is my personal strategy for staying motivated and committed to reading. I urge you to discover yours if you haven't found one.

There are several strategies which you can use to boost your motivation for reading, such as.
- Picking books based on personal interest and recommendations by others.
- Taking your reading in small chunks
- Utilising audio books for multitasking
- Following book review accounts on social media
- Reading during most convenient times such as mornings.
- Adopting an active and critical approach to reading.

Still, however, you need to discover the best personal strategies which work optimally for you, because everyone has unique circumstances. Some of the suggestions shared here may work differently in your context. The most important thing is never to give up. In addition to utilising personal strategies you may successfully boost your motivation with the help of other people. In the next article of this blog series, I intend to share some interpersonal strategies which you may employ to strengthen your commitment.

A newfound sense of why to be a great team player