How to Gain More Than You Invest in Reading

Are you really reading?

You may have found yourself in a position something like this before. You have a book that you will be quizzed over in your next college literature class, only your chums convinced you to hit the big party at the fraternity the night before. Or maybe you just fell asleep reading it.

Next morning, mind fuzzy and hungover, you thumb through James Joyce's Ulysses in an hour, over Fruit Loops and strong coffee. The book reads like an elaborate joke written for hungover college students.

Still, maybe you remember a detail or two and get a couple points you would not have received on the quiz otherwise. You gained something. Not much.

I'll confess to having just an hour to prepare to teach The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, which I had somehow not yet read, to a chipper group of 60 college students. Luckily, it's short.

But, suppose your boss tosss you a 50 page white paper that you need to report on in 20 minutes.

Regardless of the circumstances, you do a lot of different kinds of reading from emails to biographies, and your brain adapts to the needs of the situation (or not). The more skilled you are as a reader and writer, the easier this adaptation becomes.

Reading with a purpose

A spectrum of reading exists, from the challenging to the simple, and I 'mention just a few here to give you some context before I share some tricks for adapting your reading style. You change your reading depending on your purpose and how much time you have:

  • Critical: the serious, methodic, and evaluative. Aims to retain, learn, enter a dialogue, assessment.
  • Serious: the studious, attentive, and focused. Intends to learn but not necessarily assess or evaluate.
  • Strategic: the quick, planned, and purposeful. This is the kind I'll describe in more detail. You do not actually read the whole piece, which makes it different from the next kind.
  • Speed: the super fast and systematic. You can take courses that teach you how to do this various different ways successfully.

Just to reassure you that I'm not taking you down a path to madness, check out this quote and who said it:

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

Albert Einstein

So my aim here is to provide you with tools to allow you to adjust your reading rate depending on the circumstances.

Strategic reading
You can do strategic reading at various rates depending on how much time you have. This is the coolest quality: you can adapt on the fly. Here are the steps:

  1. Note how much time you have and how long the piece is. This lets you know how to pace yourself as you go through the process. You may even decide you need to skip some steps.
  2. Look at the title

If You Want to Take Your Mission in Life to the Next Level, Don’t Look Outside Yourself, Look Inside

This is a little story of a boy and a girl who were playing together. The boy had lot of marbles and the girl had sweets with her. The boy asked the girl if she would exchange her sweets for the marbles. The girl agreed and handed over all the sweets to the boy. However, the boy sneaked out the biggest and the most colorful marble that he had and gave the rest to the girl. That night the girl slept well but the boy was restless all night thinking that the girl may have hidden some sweets from him like the way he had hidden the marble.

The moral of the story is – ‘What you give is what you get and what you get is what you deserve’. In this case, the boy was not honest and thus had a sleepless night filled with doubt.

How often do we come across people who cheat themselves and blame the rest of the world or curse destiny for their level of existence? By nature most people like to play an inferior game and expect superior results; when results fail to come in, they begin the blame game. Isn’t that true?

Introspect and see if you too have been a victim of this self-initiated unfair game of defeat.

While you were in college, you wanted to score a distinction in your academics but put in efforts only to get a second class. What was the result?

While at work, you promised to achieve a certain result but failed to achieve it. Did you and your team really play the game of commitment at level 10?

While attending a training program you expected the trainer to give his level 10, but you never participated at level 10. What was the end result?

Think about it! Why do 1% of people control 85% of the wealth of the world? Why is it that only a handful of people have millions of followers? Why only a few people attain and maintain stardom? Why and how do champions become champions?

The answer is simple – they play their game at Level 10.

You can either believe in destiny or make your own destiny.

Do you think Sachin Tendulkar was destined to become a great cricketer or did he actually steer his life in a manner to become one? When he was barely 8 years he would spend hours practicing cricket, at the age of 12 he was scoring centuries, at the age of 16 years he played for our national team facing the likes of Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. Imagine if he had spent hours watching TV, playing silly games with friends or just lazing around for hours, would he have become an Icon?

At the age of 37, most people ignored his achievements and passion for the game and criticized him for not retiring. And he went to score a double century in one-day internationals, he was the most consistent performer in test …

I Need Help Deciding What Career to Choose Since I’ve Never Worked a Day in My Life

Well, that is a problem, isn’t it?

Thankfully, however, it’s not a showstopper. Here are 3 simple steps to crunch through when you are saying “I need help deciding what career to choose.”

1. Get to know yourself.

Talk to friends and family members. Make a list of your interests, strengths and yes, weaknesses. If you’re going to learn about yourself you need to know everything, not just what makes your mama proud.

Next, go more indepth. Take at least one and more if possible, career aptitude tests and personality tests. Remember to take these tests with a grain of salt. They are only reflective of the answers you provide; not representative of your entire identity!

Nevertheless, professional testing can give you serious clues about the career paths you need to choose. Match this information up with the data you got from your family and friends. What fits and what doesn’t?

2. Research careers.

Using the information you learned about yourself, you should have a list of career possibilities. Go online and learn all you can about those career choices. Really saturate yourself with information. After all, you will have to live with your final career choice for a long time.

When it comes to the money issue, be realistic. Some folks are alright with living with less and some of us know we would be better off with more. Give the issue of lifestyle serious consideration.

Yes, you should choose a career you know you’ll enjoy…but if you will have to live like a pauper while pursuing that career and you know you’ll hate every minute of that lifestyle, where’s the enjoyment in that? Look for balance between earning power and career satisfaction.

Remember, too, that choices such as where you must live in order to pursue a particular career can have more impact on your daily life than just money. For example, if you know you want to live in a quiet, rural setting don’t focus on a career field that only has opportunities in big cities!

3. Take a deep breath…and choose.

After all your research is completed a pattern will start to emerge. Talk to trusted family and friends again, this time with your newly acquired data and listen carefully to the comments that arise.

To be honest, you will need to sift through these comments. Friends and family are useful in that they know you and your abilities, but they can be very unhelpful if they all they have to offer is negative comments.

Don’t let anyone rain on your career parade. Try to be as objective as possible. Pretend you are interviewing your friends and families about a mutual acquaintance. See their comments dispassionately and from a distance. This will help you separate the truly helpful nuggets they have to offer from the comments that should be thrown away without internalizing. For example…

Helpful comment:

“John, when you were little you were always taking things apart and driving your mom crazy. It’s pretty obvious …