How to Set and Maintain a Reading Goal This Year

Every year I make the vague but ambitious decision to “read more,” and every year I start out confidently, but after about three months I lose momentum. This is not due to a lack of interest or trying – I just did not set a realistic goal that includes reading books that I really enjoy.

Here are some strategies for setting a reading goal and actually sticking to it.

Take time to read

Obviously, this is easier said than done, especially if you are working, raising children, and just trying to survive every day. But if you don’t have time to read yet, you won’t be reading any more this year without making some small changes.

Here are some tips on how to adapt reading to your busy schedule :

  • Try audiobooks . This frees up time for “reading” while you are also cooking, cleaning, or driving.
  • Read while you eat or drink . If you use meal time to scroll through social media, replace your phone with a book.
  • Plan your reading time . Incorporate reading into your work calendar just like you would any other appointment so that no one else can claim this time, then actually take a break.
  • Take a book with you . If you have a book on hand, both at home and away, you can fit a few pages while in the bathroom or waiting for an appointment.

Make your goal realistic

If you are currently not reading at all, or if it takes months to complete one book, you probably are not going to read a book every week or chapter a day. Perhaps you instead aim for one book per month, or five minutes each morning, or a certain number of pages per week.

You may find yourself reading more, especially if you prefer to finish the chapter before putting the book down.

Use smaller sizes

The urge to complete a certain number (or long list) of books can seem overwhelming at first. Plus, basing your goal on the absolute number of books per month or year doesn’t count the total number of words and pages you’ll have to read.

Instead, break your goal down into smaller chunks, such as the number of pages per week, the minutes per day, or the time it takes to finish your coffee in the morning. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits , recommends 20 pages a day – ideally the first thing you need to build a solid daily routine.

Build your reading list

One alternative to measuring how much you read is to set a goal for yourself to read more about something. For example, pick a genre that interests you, but don’t forget it very often. Or take a look at a series of several books. Or strive to read the works of women authors or BIPOC authors, or just books published by indie.

However, read what you like

Of course, if you don’t like fantasy or science fiction, you probably won’t get far with a reading list filled with fantasy and science fiction. So even if you diversify your bookshelf and try something new, remember to keep you updated. And don’t be afraid to stop working on a book that isn’t interesting to you.

Create accountability

Joining a virtual book club or exchange can be motivation enough to at least start – and possibly finish – the books on your shelf. Or announce your commitment and track your progress with a public Goodreads list or Instagram series of posts.


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