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In 2017, I made a horrifying personal discovery:
I’d stopped reading.
Not completely, of course, but by any literary standard, I’d shut the book.
(Insert groan for bad pun here…)
At the end of that year, I couldn’t remember how many books I’d read. Four? Maybe five? I doubted I could count them on one hand.
My degree is a Double Major in Theatre with a Minor in English. That’s a lot of heady, literary pages. And I didn’t stop there. For years, I devoured books by the shelfful. When Gerald and I got married, our biggest debate was where to put all the books in our new home.
But then we moved 7 times in 9 years. Boxes of books became harder and harder to lug around the country. Many times, we just didn’t unpack them, or we put them in storage for months on end. We took on new jobs and challenges. Our schedule was filled with new creativity and adventures.
Somewhere along the way, I found other ways to fill my time.
My reading life had been sidelined.
So, in 2018, I set an ambitious goal for myself:
Read 24 books in a year.
This wasn’t just about choosing a random number of books to read. I truly wanted to reset and reenergize my reading life.
This felt like a huge leap. I knew it would require a shift in my time and my mindset. I wanted reading to be important again.
Because of everything that was at stake, I really wanted to succeed, so I created a S.M.A.R.T. Goal.
If you’re not familiar with this acronym, it stands for:
Depending on where you search, there are some variations on the words, but the intentions are always the same.
Here’s why my simple goal - Read 24 books in a year - was a perfect S.M.A.R.T. Goal:
Read 24 books. Not articles, or blogposts, or stories. Read books. 24 of them, please.
Read 24 books. It’s a concrete number, easy to measure.
I told Gerald and my parents what I was doing. I knew achieving my goal would require a bit of a lifestyle change as I learned to dedicate more time to reading. I wanted their support and understanding.
24 books a year, or 2 books a month, sounded like something I could possibly make work. If I’d aimed for 100 books that first year, it would have been completely unreasonable. Chances are, I would have fallen far short of that number, and would have given up on the goal entirely. I knew that 24 books would require some focus and planning, and that it would push my limits, but ultimately, it felt doable.
24 books in a year, or 2 books a month. This gives me a clearly defined schedule of how to achieve my goal. If I could keep that average pace of 2 books a month, I would stand a great chance of success.
My progress ebbed and flowed throughout the year. Some months, I could only manage one long book, so the next month, I would choose 3 shorter books to keep myself on schedule. I kept a list of all the titles I read so that I could celebrate my monthly success and not lose track of where I was in the 24. Gerald was very supportive any time I claimed a Sunday afternoon as “book time.”
December was busy, as it often is for musicians, so by the end of the month, I was coming up short. I had to read two books in the final week of 2018. I wrapped up a novel on the 30th, but there was no time to squeeze in the final book.
Finally, Dad suggested I read “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” A cheeky suggestion, but as he pointed out, it’s a well-studied seasonal classic, and yes, technically, it’s a book!
On the day before New Year’s Eve,
I celebrated the completion of my 24 Books of 2018!
As I stated earlier, the main point of this goal wasn’t simply to read 24 books.
It was a means to a greater end.
The true goal was to reset and reenergize my reading life,
and I’m thrilled to say, it worked!
I set another goal of 24 books in 2019 and 2020, but as we all know,
everything changed in 2020...
But that’s another story!
Stay tuned for Chapter 2, next week…
(And I promise, an end to the booky puns!)
Look at the goals you’ve created for 2022.
Are they S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
What can you do to make them
Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive?