If I Could Redo My 30-Day Reading Challenge

Before I embarked on my 30-day reading challenge, I thought I could start with reading 15 pages a day. Eventually, I settled on 20 pages. Even if this was doable, I think I should have chosen a less ambitious habit to build. If I could go back, I would have started with 5 pages. I know, that’s 25% of the goal I set. But, the point is consistency. If you’re not hitting your goal daily, you’re more likely to drop the habit and not commit to it long-term. It might even end up demotivating you.

The reason I initially chose 15 pages a day (and the increased it to 20 pages) was because I wanted to guarantee that I could finish a book within the 30 days. I ended up choosing 20 pages so I could finish it in less time. But, I didn’t really think about the fact that I haven’t finished reading a book within a month in years. This is quite an ambitious goal, and for someone who has not executed ambitious goals for a few years now, is it really a good idea?

As I continued with reading every day, I thought about how much easier it would have been if I chose to stick to 10 pages instead. And now, I’m saying that I should have set it even lower, to 5 pages a day. Why? Simply because 5 pages seems so accessible to me. It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes, it’s easy to get started, and most likely I will continue and end up reading more anyway. It’s like telling yourself to walk around the block once, but you end up going two or three times once you start moving. Or floss just one tooth, and you end up flossing all your teeth. You want to start off so small that you will definitely not say no.

If I didn’t read more than 5 pages a day, I would have still finished reading 150 pages that month. That’s more than what I’ve been doing for years. And after getting used to that, I could increase the goal by a page each time. I could slowly build up from there.

The biggest problem I’m facing now is, how long can I continue reading 20 pages a day without giving up one day? It feels like a struggle. I had to start finding ways to make it easier for myself without reducing the number of pages. I want to stick to the goal I set. I don’t want to compromise.

So, I’ve been reading multiple books. I read a chapter of the book I started with, and then switch to a newer book that has more of my interest and that I consider to be a “lighter” read. I also sometimes read books earlier in the day so I don’t have to read too much in the evenings. It kind of goes against what I originally planned. That’s because another reason I set a goal of reading more pages is because I wanted to see how effective it was in terms of my mood and my experience with hearing a voice, especially in the evenings. If I read only 5 pages, I might not see much of a difference. And if I read earlier in the day, I’m not really going to experience the potential benefits it would yield to me in the evenings when the voice is more active. So, there’s a toss-up.

Still, I could have set a goal of 5 pages, read more when I started off, noticed the results, and decided to read more or less depending on the upcoming days. Now, I feel stuck with this goal of 20 pages per day. I want to complete it because I want to have that sense of accomplishment of sticking to a goal no matter what. Even if it’s boring or I’m not feeling particularly good one day, I want to be able to see through to the end of it.

A lot of times, I give up on a goal because it seems too boring, or it seems to take up more energy. I think if I can stick to a goal despite it not being exactly how I want it to be, it can help me to become more disciplined in other areas. For example, I’ll be more willing to take on certain tasks that I might have to do in the future that I might not be interested in but will benefit me. Or, I might get into other activities good for my health such as exercise, even if I’m not into it at first.

I think it would have been better if I also built up more accountability or a more social aspect to the challenge. Sure, you’re building up your own knowledge. But, there’s something about sharing and connecting with others that helps you to stick to the goal. It’s like having a workout partner, or a study buddy. Even if you don’t look forward to the goal, you’re likely to look forward to hanging out with that person.

Right now, I’m reminding myself of the reasons why I started this challenge:

– I wanted to find a long-term habit that I’d like to develop in the evenings beyond just playing games on my phone.
– The habit might help me better deal with my experience of hearing a voice.
– My sleep might improve if I’m reading in the evenings before I go to sleep.
– I could gain more knowledge.
– I could develop better communication, coming up with more ideas based on what I was reading.
– I might develop a skill.
– It could help me with eventually writing a book of my own.
– I could share what I’ve learned with others.
– I could build up discipline.
– My mood could improve.

There’s a lot of potential benefits. I’m hoping that the more I remind myself, the more I’ll want to continue sticking to the habit.

I want to note that in the first week, I had no trouble sticking to the habit of reading 20 pages every evening. The second week was harder. I was starting to get bored with what I was reading. And also, I was not feeling particularly well one day.

This can happen with any 30-day challenge. Imagine if you set a goal to go to the gym every day for 30 days. Then one day, you feel sore. Or, you get sick. Or, you just lack energy. Do you still go? It’s easy to excuse yourself and skip a day when you think of those situations.

Sometimes, there’s a legit reason to quit. For example, if you get injured and you need to rest to heal, of course you should stop exercising for a while. However, boredom is not really a good reason to me, at least for a 30-day challenge. You have to stick to the 30 days to see the real benefits, and to maybe grow interest if you’re lacking it. Some people find learning a foreign language to be boring in the beginning, but once they’re able to actually communicate with others in that language, suddenly it becomes a whole new world.

I initially told myself that if I read 100 pages of a book and didn’t find it interesting, I could stop reading that book and move on to another one. My bored feeling didn’t come 100 pages in, but 200 pages in. I still wanted to finish the book because I thought maybe I’d find the later parts interesting. Plus, then I could say for sure whether this book was worth it or not.

Also, I think about all the time I spent playing games in the past. I spent so many hours on it, only to stop and not really gain any benefit from it. If I could do that with games, why couldn’t I spend a little more time finishing reading something and seeing where that leads? Worst case, I don’t learn anything new and dissuade others from reading it.

I do want to continue sticking to my 30-day reading 20 pages a day challenge. I have about two weeks left. I wish I was more disciplined, but hey, it is what it is. I have to accept where I am right now. If 20 pages becomes too difficult, I might reduce the number of pages. I somewhat feel as if I shouldn’t be lenient with myself. But, I don’t want to stress myself out. The whole point in the beginning was to find a relaxing activity to do before bed. At the same time, I don’t want to fall short of my goals. Ah, what a dilemma…

Next time I embark on a 30-day challenge, despite it saying “challenge”, I will make it easier on myself. It’s more like a 30-day trial, not a challenge. I guess I’m using the wrong word here. Trial is more fitting because you’re testing something out to see how it is. Then at the end of the 30 days, you decide if it’s right or not for you. I think a challenge is more like pushing your limits, and that’s not what I’m seeking to do.

Well anyway, I surpassed 10 days of reading 20 pages a day. I don’t know exactly what day I’m on now, though I should hit 2 weeks. That’s an accomplishment, even if I don’t hit 30 days (though I still hope to hit 30 days!). Even if I fail, it’ll be a lesson for me in the future. I will have a better idea of how to form my future 30-day trials.

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