Why Have a Yearly Reading Goal?

Photo credit: Jenn and Tony Bot on Flickr
In 2012, I had a goal of reading twenty books. That may not sound like much to some of you, but it was more than double what I read in 2011, and it seemed like a manageable and attainable goal. I’m now reading my twenty-first book of the year (I keep track using Goodreads), which will certainly be completed before the new year rings, and I have to say, I’m really glad that I kept myself accountable this year.

While many writers often talk about keeping daily writing goals, reading goals don’t seem to be as widely of a talked about thing. I suppose while the relevance of writing goals to writing is obvious, the importance of keeping a yearly reading goal may seem a bit more nebulous.

2011 was the first year that I attempted to meet a reading goal. While I failed to meet the goal that year (in my weak defense, I started late), it motivated me to focus on completing my goal the next year. When it became clear that I was going to meet my original goal of ten books early, I bumped it up to fifteen, then twenty. Next year I’ll be going for twenty-five.

Now some of you may be wondering what the point of having a reading goal is, and while I’ve laid out why it’s so important for writers to read in the past, I’ve found that keeping a reading goal is tied in very closely to actually reading more (versus intending or wanting to read more).

You see, most writers are aware that it’s important to read, and many non-writers are well aware that reading is a healthy and enjoyable habit. Many people kick off the New Year with a goal to read more, but the problem is, without a specific reading goal, it’s hard to measure what reading more actually means. After all, how will you know if you’ve met your goal if you haven’t detailed what it means to read more?

For me, having a measurable number to reach for kept me motivated to keep searching for books and continuing to read. It reminded me that I had a goal to meet, and in order to reach that goal I had to set some time aside to sit down and actually read. Without a specific, measurable goal to strive for, I honestly don’t think I would have read even half as much as I did this year. In fact, looking back at my record over the years, I can say with quite a bit of certainty that I wouldn’t have come near twenty books without a reading goal.

Look, if you’re a writer, or want to be a writer, you need to be reading. There isn’t an exception to the rule for this, and I’ve detailed the reasons why in this post, but the point is that you need to be reading, and keeping a yearly reading goal keeps you honest and helps you to measure whether or not you’re reading as much as you believe you should be.

Do you keep a yearly reading goal? If so, did you meet your goal this year? If not, will you be keeping one next year?

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