👋 Hey, everyone!
As I write this, I and my fellow Wisconsinites remain subject to the 'safer at home' order, put in place back in March. This new normal can at times feel demoralizing, draining, and down-right boring. It begs of all of us to get creative - with our time, with our routines, and with our goals. There is so much that we cannot do right now, but let us not forget what we are still capable of accomplishing, even within the confines of our own home.
It is with this optimistic tone that I'd like to present you with a challenge. Likely coming as no surprise to those that are familiar with this blog and myself...the challenge is centered around the wonderfully powerful act of reading. Look, many of us are now in the unique position in which we actually have some free time. What to do with it is up to us! We can certainly spend it at the whim of Tiger King (which I have no shame in saying that I watched...) and other binge-worthy television programs. But, just think of the good that can spring eternal if we make the conscious decision to pick up a habit that is (1) simple and enjoyable, and (2) helps us evolve into better versions of ourselves...
Sounds like a decision worth making, no? If you're willing to hop on board the reading train, or add some structure and spunk to your already sturdy reading habit, I've devised a little 30-Day Reading Challenge for us all to try and from which we can reap innumerable benefits...
Read 15 minutes per day, every day, for 30 consecutive days. Simple. Straightforward. Not necessarily easy.
I know what you're thinking...💭 Pssh, some challenge, Ian! 15 minutes? No problem! Now, if you already do this (i.e. read at least 15 minutes per day), up it to 30 minutes! The idea is to push yourself to do better and get better. However, I'd guess that most of us do not read 15 minutes per day - heck, not even I read every day! So this is as much of a challenge for me as it is for you. We're in this together!
With such a 'simple' challenge, I may not need to offer you some tips, but, what the hell, I want to anyways. You never know who may need 'em, right? Let's think about the obstacles that may impede your success in this challenge...
We all get overwhelmingly busy from time to time, even when we're confined to our homes. Things just pop up! The beauty of this challenge is...it's only 15 minutes. Yes, it may mean sacrificing an episode of a show, a plunge into social media, or maybe even a hair of shut-eye, but, let me tell you, it will be worth it! This show of commitment goes beyond the joys provided by reading; it is internal justification that you are willing and able to make sacrifices for what you consider important. And, truth be told, if the book you're reading brings you pleasure, is it really much of a sacrifice to begin with? When busyness strikes, remember why you started the challenge in the first place - to become a better version of yourself.
It happens to me ALL. THE. TIME. I finally get to bed, exhausted, sleepy, and the thought inevitably pops up, You didn't read at all today, you probably should... So, I agree with my inner conscience and pop open the book (often a little reluctantly as it's keeping me from sweet dreams), get a few pages deep, and before I know, I'm dozing off mid-sentence! I'm not suggesting we try to fend off these zzzzs (which I find to be pretty much impossible)...rather, I suggest we take a different tack. Do your reading before bedtime. Simple as that. Set a reading reminder on your phone (or multiple reading reminders) during the day. Find a 15-minute chunk of your morning, afternoon, or evening and get reading! People are creatures of routine...after a few days you'll likely settle on the perfect window of time to do your daily reading. The last thing I want you to do is to fight tooth and nail to stay awake and stay reading when your body is begging you to close your weary eyes.
Anything we set out to accomplish, such as this challenge, can, despite great intentions and excitement initially, sour into feelings of resentment by way of required completion. This should not feel like homework - like something that needs to be done. You should want to read every day. How can we be sure this happens? Again, the answer is simple - it's all about the book. You can't just decide to read any book (or books) during the course of this 30-day challenge...you have to read what you enjoy! I repeat, you have to read what you enjoy! This ensures the silencing of any boredom, suppression of any feelings of obligation, and lasting contentment over your 30-day journey. I'm a big believer that we would all read more if we just found the right books! So, if you ever mentally equate reading with chores, I urge you not to quit, but to re-evaluate your reading selection. We don't have trouble coming back to books that captivate our attention, arouse our desire to be entertained, and keep us wanting more. We have trouble coming back to books that do none of these things. When this happens, find something more aligned with your core interests.
The challenge is simple - read a book for 15 minutes a day, for 30 consecutive days. But, that's not to say it's easy. You'll encounter roadblocks along the way, some of which I mentioned above, others lurking in the dark, waiting to pounce and throw you off track. Remain true. Stay committed and focused on why you started. It's all about being a better you, showing yourself that you are disciplined enough to make positive changes in your life.
Another great thing about this challenge, though it may be more attainable now, given our current housebound circumstances, is that you can try this challenge over any 30-day period. And, you can always do it more than once, increasing/decreasing the parameters as you see fit.
Let's not walk this path alone though, okay?! Keep us up-to-date on your progress in the comments below and on social media (tag @heliumbooks and/or use the hashtag #HeliumReadingChallenge)! There is always power in numbers and community. We can build off the strength displayed by others and find that special something within ourselves that will help see us through the ups and downs. Because doing anything of value for 30 days is not easy...especially alone. If you ever need someone to chat with, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always happy to talk!
Reading is the game. A better you is the trophy. Will you accept the challenge?