Reading: Step One to Success
According to a 5-year study, 88% of wealthy people say they devote at least thirty minutes every single day to reading, specifically with the aim of furthering their own education and self-improvement. It has been reported that Warren Buffet spends up to four fifths of his day reading. Whilst many of us can’t afford that much time in our days to sticking our head in a book, it is widely known that increased levels of reading puts you ahead in many different ways.
Reading has been known to bring with it a command of vocabulary and a broader understanding of the wider world; the more you read, the more words you know, and the more you know. This, of course, helps you in your professional life, as it makes you ever more employable as a knowledgeable and coherently literate person. But reading does more than just this for us.
Reading gives your brain a different kind of mental workout than, for instance, watching television does. Whenever you read, whatever it is and for however long you are reading, the parts of your brain that have evolved for other functions, such as vision, language, and association, connect in a specific neural loop for reading, which provides stimulation that the brain otherwise does not experience. This exercise drives your brain to think better and concentrate for longer, which enhances your abilities to work more effectively for longer, and be able to tackle harder problems with more precision.
Equally, getting into a great read can take years off your mind. According to a recent study, people who spent their downtime taking part in activities like reading had a 32% slower rate of cognitive decline later in life than those who did not. Exercising the brain regularly changes its structure to continue functioning properly in spite of age-related neural decline. To this end, people who regularly read are two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Whilst these attributes of reading may not have direct applications to success, the good news does mean you will more likely be able to retain a standard of productivity well into your old age, as well as enjoy fully the successes you will have earned.
Reading can even give you a better sense of empathy; acquainting yourself with characters, feeling what they feel and become enraptured in their story strengthens your ability to understand others’ feelings. Make-believe characters in books serve as imaginary practice for you to learn how to make those human bonds with others stronger, and do so quicker, when it comes to it in real life. For those who lack confidence around others, or find it hard to make connections at work, reading can give you this ability. Those who can network more effectively are better equipped to become successful, as they have a wider range of people who will be willing to help and support them with their goals.
Reading can give you confidence and motivation in other ways. Reading about characters who have to overcome their own personal problems and obstacles can make you feel more encouraged to overcome your own, and achieve your own goals. Successful people can draw their inspiration to strive for their goals and not be stopped by anything by reading constantly about those who have done exactly the same; it doesn’t matter if it is completely fictional or not – that ability to empathise makes the emotions and motivation just as real to you
What’s more, when it comes to those deemed financially successful, reading is not for entertainment for many; successful people tend to prefer reading non-fiction, biographies and self-help books. This doesn’t mean you should avoid fiction books, but given the choice, follow in successful peoples’ footsteps and choose to read something non-fiction, but just as gripping. The reasoning behind it is simple: self-help books give that motivation to do things in a higher concentration to normal books, as well as nuggets of information and advice that may prove to be helpful. Biographies tend to give away the thinking habits and obstacles of a notable person, as well as the details of how their journey to success. These can be used to your advantage, either to tell you how to go right in achieving your own goals, what to expect when doing so, or, if you’ve had a knock-back, simply to be reassured that you’re not the only one to experience something similar, and to carry on trying.
So when can we find the time to do this magical, life-enhancing reading? There are many points in the average day where we are caught in a situation where doing nothing, or resorting to other media such as the TV or our phones, seems to be the easy option to occupy ourselves, but we could better spend that time reading. Many people these days commute to work on a daily basis. On average, commuters in the UK spend about fifty-seven minutes commuting to work, and this gets longer for those commuting in London, which means there are approximately two hours a day where we are travelling, otherwise unoccupied. This is two hours where you could be reading. Equally, if you are on a lunch break, some days it may be healthy to simply socialise with co-workers, but if you are spending lunch on your own or at your desk, that forty-five minute break can be used wisely.
You can also read whilst doing something that doesn’t require you to concentrate. This means that, if you are working out at the gym, you can have a book out while you work out. Or, you can keep a copy of something in your toilet at home, to keep you sensibly occupied whilst you are sitting there. Utilising the parts of your day that are otherwise wasted on your brain for reading can be your first step to success.
Make sure you check out the rest of the articles in our series on success:
- Avoiding Time Wasting
- Why A Healthy Body Is Crucial For A Successful Career
- Daily Routine
- Being Persistent
- 5 Steps To Success