Recently, I completed my challenge of reading 20 pages or more of books every day for 30 days. It wasn’t always easy to stick to the challenge, but I made it through. I’m not going to mention any particular books I’ve read, because I don’t really recommend them. They were just okay.

The first week was fairly easy. I used a tablet. I chose a book that I thought about reading for a while, and I guess because of my curiosity, I was able to read a fair chunk of the book in the first week. Each chapter was roughly 15 pages. So, I would read two chapters every evening usually. I figured it would be better to complete a chapter rather than read a third of the way through and then have to refresh my memory of what I read.

By the second week, I was getting bored with the book. I thought I’d find some interesting insights by then, but the story seemed to be dragging for me. So, I’d read one chapter, and then would switch to another book to finish up my 20 or so pages.

Eventually, I finished the first book (thank God). I mean, it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t as great as all the hype I’ve heard about it. And, I was just glad I could finally say I’ve read it, and could decide whether it was good, okay, or just plain bad.

The second book was more interesting to me. It was a self-help book. I didn’t really learn anything new about myself per se, but I thought some of the exercises in the book could help me in the future if I ever decide to embark on ambitious goals or dreams again. It helps you solidify plans and take action. And also, the chapters were longer, so I could finish my goal of reading 20 pages easily by just reading one chapter. So, that was a relief.

And then eventually, I started on my third book. There was one particular day that was stressful for me. I was feeling tired earlier in the evening, but I didn’t want to go to sleep yet. I knew I had to finish reading 20 pages. I really struggled this day. As some of you know, I experience something like hearing voices, but more intense. Basically, the voice kept distracting me from the text. I would read a sentence, and not even comprehend it. And at one point, I was reading each word one at a time, really emphasizing it in my head. But the next second, I would literally forget the last word and would not correlate any connection between the words. It was horrible.

But still, I didn’t want to fail just because the voice was getting in the way. So, I soldiered through. I hardly understood the text, but I kept going and finished the 20 pages anyway. And no, I didn’t go back to re-read. I don’t really find that necessary, unless you’re studying something, or unless you think that you will gain some valuable insights.

Speaking of not comprehending the text, there were some times when I would read the first book (an autobiography) and would either zone out or just not really absorb what I was reading. I didn’t go back to re-read those parts either, for the most part, unless I felt like I missed something interesting. I like to just power through and move forward. If it’s a text I really enjoyed, I might re-read it. When I just continue reading the next thing, I feel like it might teach my brain to focus and if it misses something, oh well. Maybe that’s not how the brain works… But anyway, that’s just how I read. I’ve heard others advise something similar, of not going back to re-read something, but just to move on.

After the 30-day reading challenge, I think I read the very next day, and then missed like two days of reading. The first day was because my hearing voices experience felt intense and I didn’t really feel in the mood to try to concentrate on reading. So, I didn’t push myself. The next day was Thanksgiving and we were out, so I was tired and didn’t feel like reading. I thought this was strange because I thought the habit would stick, right? Why wasn’t I in the mood, even if I was tired? Like, I didn’t even have a thought of, “Ooh, maybe I should read, even just a little bit.”

Well, I guess it had to do with the tiredness because the next day (Black Friday), I felt the urge to read. I felt pretty stable, not tired or overwhelmed by voices. It’s still too early to tell the overall effects of this reading habit and what it has done for me after, but I’m hoping it’s like a habitual urge or something. Does that make sense? I mean, I just hope that I feel more inclined to read than to just play games or to just watch videos in the evenings.

I’ve mentioned this before, how if I could re-do the challenge, I would read less pages, maybe 10 or 15. Even 15 is ambitious, considering I was barely reading a book a year. 5 pages is an easy goal. Maybe that would have been nice. Though, I did finish 2 books within the 30 days by setting a higher target. I don’t even think I would have finished a single book if the target was a measly 5 pages. I might have just gotten bored with the first book and abandoned it altogether. But because I was reading at least 20 pages a day, I thought, “Well, I might as well finish another chapter.”

I’m not officially doing another 30-day or any kind of challenge for reading. But, I think on days when I’m doing fairly well, or even if I’m feeling a little tired or overwhelmed by voices, I can set a soft goal of reading 5 pages a day. It’s not a lot to commit to. I remember pushing through, struggling to understand what I was reading when the voice particularly distressed me one day. So, I think it will help me build up strength and power through, doing a task despite how I’m feeling. And, maybe it will teach the voice, “I’m not gonna give in just because you’re acting out.” I think of the voice as a child. So, maybe reading like this every day despite how it acts will discipline it. That’s my wishful thinking.

I’m not a disciplined person or anything when it comes to these 30-day trials or challenges. I try to make them as simple as possible. I actually tried to tag coloring to my reading habit, which I did do successfully for I believe 24 or 25 days in a row. But then, I had a bad day of just feeling tired and overwhelmed by the voice the next couple days (after finishing reading for 30 days). I added coloring days into my challenge, so I thought I’d spend a few extra days reading and coloring together. It didn’t pan out that way. I should have just stuck to reading. That was me not keeping things simple, which I should have done.

I recommend, even if you think you can do more, keep a baseline. Don’t push yourself to do more. Don’t tack on more goals needlessly. I thought I was being clever by planning out evening activities to distract me from hearing voices. But, it became a checklist of things to do in the evening before sleeping. And, it kind of took the fun out of those two activities (reading and coloring). I think it’s better to stick to one goal or one habit at a time. Because then, even if it doesn’t seem fun in the moment, you eventually grow to enjoy it or learn more about it or just naturally do it anyway. But when you’re juggling two or more goals, you never fully focus on doing your best with just one. Eventually, you could build up to do more. But when you’re first starting off, it’s better to choose one goal to focus on.

I was trying to read every day as a coping skill, and also I guess as something “productive” to do. And honestly, it worked pretty well for me. The voice didn’t bother me most days. Though, the voice still bothered me when I was tired. In my head, I’m thinking, “I don’t want to fail my goal.” But, the voice will play devil’s advocate and say, “Sleep is a priority!” I hate when the voice tries to justify doing things differently. Neither option is wrong per se, but if I want to read, let me read in peace. I take a while to fall asleep anyway, even when I’m tired, so I might as well accomplish my goal. That’s my line of thinking.

I want to do more of these 30-day trials or challenges so that I can build up some discipline, and also assert my power over the voice. I want to show it, “I’m gonna do this thing, and whether you agree or not, it’s gonna happen.” I’m so tired of the voice influencing me just because I don’t want to deal with it. It’s my body, my mind, let me do what I want.

Honestly, I don’t really feel accomplished after reading for 30 days. I mean, it is something because I have had trouble sticking to habits and goals in the past. And, I finally completed an intentional 30-day challenge. I feel satisfied that I read a couple of books and will probably finish one more by the end of the year. But, it’s not anything great. I don’t feel elated or surprised. I’m more so like, “Yeah, that’s a thing I did.”

I am glad that the voice did, for the most part of this challenge, calm down in the evenings. Though now the challenge is officially over, it tries to convince me that I don’t have to read. And yeah, it’s true, I don’t have to read, but I still want to read. I still want to have a long-time habit of reading, so that I can finish reading all those books I was curious about or will be curious about in the future.

December is approaching soon, and I don’t yet have a 30-day challenge set in stone. Maybe I will research a few ideas. I did think about writing a book about myself and my experiences with hearing voices, so I thought of doing something like NaNoWriMo but for non-fiction and in a different month. I thought though that maybe I should give myself more time to plan it out. Some other 30-day trial ideas include some form of exercise, practicing piano again, producing music, livestreaming, drinking more water, and blogging (again, because I did do this last August to September, but it’s no longer on the web). I’m not really leaning toward a particular goal. I do want to do something though.

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