Most people have goals in life. Maybe you have them in business, health, or finance. Perhaps you have goals in other areas, such as in the creative area or in your interpersonal relationships. Regardless of the ones that are most important to you, you shouldn't put aside mental development, learning, and personal improvement. Knowing well the information related to your goals can help you achieve them.
Part 1 of 3: Decide what to read
Step 1. Decide how much you will read
The amount of reading you will need to do to meet your goal will vary based on it. To start, try to get a general idea of how much you will need to read, as this will govern the rest of your planning.
- For example, if your goal is to recognize edible plants in your area, it will probably be okay to read a book or two on the subject. On the contrary, if you plan to start a new career as a botanist, you will have to read as much as possible about it, which will include all the best-known books in this field of study, as well as many articles from scientific journals and other periodicals.
- Some goals will require you to read on many topics. For example, if yours is to start a wine cellar, obviously you will have to read some books on how to make wine, but also some on running a small business. It would also be good for you to read about the laws where you live that govern the production and sale of alcoholic beverages.
Step 2. Research the books you should read
Not all reading materials are the same. Before you start reading, take some time to determine which ones are the most important. Do some research and find out which are the main books related to your goal.
- There are many ways to find books related to your goals. You can go to a bookstore and browse the shelves or ask a staff member for recommendations. Also, your local public library may offer some suggestions.
- Many Internet book sellers also provide recommendations based on the other books you have searched for. This feature can be helpful in determining which book to read, even if you don't buy them online.
- If you know someone who is already very familiar with your topic, ask for recommendations.
Step 3. Choose periodicals to read
If your main goals require a lot of up-to-date information, you might want to include periodicals like magazines and newspapers among your reading goals.
- For example, if your goal is to dominate stock trading, you might want to read up-to-date information on the rises and falls of different stocks. Some examples are the business section of a newspaper or any of the many magazines that cover investment and finance.
- Again you can go to the local bookstore or the place where they sell newspapers. You can also search the Internet with your subject and the words "journals" or "scientific journals" as search terms; for example, "winemaking magazine".
- University libraries often have lists of scientific journals in different fields of study.
Step 4. Look for variety
For topics that require a lot of reading, it is a good idea to read the written content from different perspectives. This is even more important if your topic generates a lot of debate or has many schools of thought.
- Having a complete understanding of the topics you are reading about is important if you really want to successfully achieve your goals. This is particularly important for those that are complex or long-term.
- For example, imagine your goal is to become an economist. You will quickly realize that the neoclassical perspective is the one that dominates the field today. However, this does not mean that you should only focus your reading on it. There are many other schools of thought in this discipline, such as Keynesian, Marxist, and New Classical Economics.
Part 2 of 3: Organize your reading
Step 1. Make a list
After determining how much you need to read and which readings will help you the most to reach your goals, make a list.
At this point, your list should contain everything you think could help you reach your goals
Step 2. Classify the books on the list
When setting goals of any kind, it's often a good idea to rank them in order of importance, which will help you set your priorities when you're working toward them. This idea applies the same way to your reading goals.
- You can rank your list based on how important you think each reading is to you or the recommendations of each one. But if you're reading about a topic new to you, you might want to start with some basic and introductory reading, and then move on to more advanced materials.
- For example, imagine that your goal in life is to become a movie director, but you don't know much about making movies yet. A good place to start would be a book that covers the basics and techniques of leadership. In contrast, a book that describes author's theory in great detail but does not cover other topics could be material for later.
Step 3. Make a reading program
Once you've sorted your list, it's time to set goals for what you'll read and when you'll read it. Make a schedule to read the books and periodicals that are most important to you.
- Be specific about what you want to read and when you want to read it, and set deadlines for finishing each book or chapter. These deadlines will help you to be responsible with your program.
- Be realistic with what you can achieve. It would be great to read four books a month and keep up to date with the major trade publications in your field of study; however, most people do not have the time to do so. Take into account your reading speed and the time you have to dedicate to this activity. Based on these aspects, set goals that you can meet.
- Setting goals that are too ambitious is inviting failure and discouragement, which could weaken your motivation to try to reach your next goal. This could defeat the initial purpose of establishing them.
Step 4. Take notes
Once you start reading, it's a good idea to keep your notes on what you've read organized. Doing so will help you if you need to review the information later. Ideally, your notes should give you the information you need, so you don't have to double-check the original source.
- When taking notes, try to capture the main ideas rather than the minor details. These ideas are the ones that usually appear over and over again in the text. You can also use visual cues such as words in bold or italics, chapter titles or the use of tables, graphs and figures.
- Using a diagram, index cards, sticky indexes or some other useful to organize will help you to locate the information later more easily.
- According to research, effective note taking also helps you better understand and remember what you read.
Part 3 of 3: Reach Your Reading Goal
Step 1. Pick a time to read
Set aside a specific period of time each day to do this. It could be 15 minutes or an hour, but try to make it the same time every day.
- Making reading a part of your daily routine will help you make it a habit. After a while, reading during this time will become a more or less automatic activity.
- For example, many people read before bed every night. Others have the habit of doing it on the bus or train when going to and from work. Similarly, others like to read as soon as they get up in the morning.
Step 2. Stick to your schedule
Unless you have no other option, be sure to stick to your set reading time. If you have to do it for any reason, try to reschedule it for another time as it would not be good for you to break the routine.
Remember that to meet any goal, you will have to dedicate the necessary time and effort. There is no way around this aspect. If you are committed to your reading goals, you should read regularly
Step 3. Evaluate the impact
As you go through your reading list, take breaks to assess whether what you are reading contributes to your goal. If not, modify your list!
- You may conclude that one of the books you chose has not added anything new to your understanding or knowledge. If this is the case, it would be better not to read this book or any similar one. For example, at some point you may feel that you have mastered the concepts of Keynesian economics. If so, reading more books on this topic may not be your priority.
- On the other hand, perhaps many of the readings you have chosen refer to some other topic that you do not know much about. If nothing else on your list covers that topic, it would be nice to add more reading. For example, imagine you are reading about winemaking and come across chemistry concepts that you don't understand. In this case, consider adding a book on basic chemistry to your list.
- Finally, you may find that some material you have chosen is very advanced and that you are not ready to read it. Instead of forcing yourself to do it and not understanding much of it, move it to a later place on your list and revisit it later. This may become more meaningful once you have learned more about the topic.
Step 4. Stay motivated
Motivation and perseverance are keys to reaching any goal. Maintaining your motivation will be important to carry them out.
- It's good to have an advance plan that has some ideas to keep you motivated and overcome any discouragement you might experience. This could consist of having friends close by who know you may need a motivating conversation or a reward system for when you reach certain goals.
- Make use of reinforcement to increase your motivation. When you reach a goal along the way like finishing a book (or even a difficult chapter), reward yourself with something small. For example, you could treat yourself to a delicious dessert or a new pair of shoes by finishing a book on your list. This will help you create a positive association with the idea of reaching your goal and will motivate you to achieve the next goal.
- If an obstacle arises that prevents you from keeping up with your schedule for a while, it won't hurt to modify it. For example, imagine that a loved one has a medical emergency. This situation could make it difficult for you to focus on books on winemaking for a while. Once your life is back to normal, go back and modify your plan. Maybe you could make a sensible one to catch up on your schedule by adding a few minutes to your daily reading time. However, if you are too late to take this action, adjusting your deadlines does not mean that you have failed.
Step 5. Record your progress
Another great way to improve your motivation is to track your progress regularly. Write down the books that you have finished or what you have advanced in a specific one compared to the program you developed.
- Your program deadlines will help you create a sense of urgency and responsibility to meet your goals. Nobody likes to feel like they have failed.
- Use a journal, calendar, or app to record your progress and update it regularly.