Imagine reading 120 books in one year.
Think about the amount of time it takes, the number of pages flipped and the incredible stories, from fiction to non-fiction.
Reading this many books in one year has had one of the most incredible impacts on my life, including changing what motivates me, my purpose and even daily conversation.
It started when I dropped out of college a semester before I was about to graduate with my third degree, to find a startup with several friends. Eight months later, the startup failed, and I felt lost.
I needed to move on, but I wanted to figure out why my startup didn't make it. As a result, I dived into 10 psychology and startup books. The first book I picked up was "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.
It's considered one of the best self-development books, and with that start, I unknowingly stumbled into a great title for my reading adventure.
I wasn't a big reader; I never enjoyed any of the books my college professors assigned me. With the freedom to choose, I realized the value that was missing from my life. I felt compelled to read as much as possible. Ten books turned into 30, then 30 into 50, then 50 eventually became 120.
It wasn't easy. I didn't speed read; I analyzed every page. I needed time to do this, so I woke up between 4 am and 6 am every morning to read. And I steered from parties, friends and family just to make time.
After a year of intense reading, these are the top seven lessons I learned from 120 books:
1. Find out what you enjoy doing.
Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. The problem with most people is they pursue what they're good at, not what they enjoy. I built my entire life on pursuing what I was good at doing, just so I could impress people.
The worst part? This type of existence leads to a downward spiral; the more time you focus on improving, the more invested you become.
Soon, leaving will feel impossible. Sometimes, it takes looking from the outside in to see your flaws. It's easy to make excuses for why you're unhappy, and it's hard to leave everything behind to start from scratch.
The truth is, happiness is not that hard to discover. It just consists of moving on from what you don't enjoy as quickly as possible.
2. Emotional intelligence trumps all other skills.
Reading gave me insights into how people think in thousands of situations I've never been in. If you can't communicate well with other people, it will be hard to accomplish any of your dreams.
You will always achieve much more with a supportive team than just by yourself. And it takes someone with a high-level of emotional intelligence to rally a team around a vision.
Moreover, making quick and accurate judgments while interacting with other people is fundamental to investing your time effectively. Also, learning the importance of remaining positive in negative situations can do wonders for improving the opportunities you receive.
3. It's not what you consume; it's what you create.
Reading is great if you apply the knowledge. If you don't, you might as well live in the back corner of a library. Our society has a "what's in it for me?" attitude, and the only way to survive is to create as much value for others as possible.
Creating helps you understand what you need to learn to transfer an idea into reality. Moreover, it puts you in a position to fail, and failure is the best learning experience you can receive. The more you create, the more you'll get rejected and succeed.
4. Side with what makes you uncomfortable.
Every great story involves a character (frequently the protagonist) who finds him- or herself in many uncomfortable situations where he or she must thrive.
What makes stories memorable is theses characters overcome unpredictability and choose bravery over being uncomfortable.
Most of us are scared of change, especially change that benefits us. We need to become attracted to situations where discomfort reigns because those are the settings in which we will evolve as human beings. Correspondingly, the books I learned the most from were ones I had the least motivation to read.
We like to count on past experiences to predict future ones because stepping outside of our comfort zone leaves a lot to chance. So, we hesitate to do something new. Just remember each hesitation is another moment we give into fear, rather than living life.
5. Embrace vulnerability.
It's critical to live life wearing your heart on your sleeve. Hiding behind black curtains is no way to express yourself. As you become increasingly vulnerable, you'll realize your ability to be naturally expressive directly parallels how much you enjoy life.
We often hide our true intentions and beliefs from our peers because we're afraid of backlash. In turn, we become people we are not.
When you read, you see the characters in their most personal moments. And instead of finding discontent with them, you find yourself more attached. As a result, you begin to see vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness.
Also, books allow us to experience stories without people judging our emotional reactions, allowing us to understand our feelings in more depth.
6. Even great books are not worth reading.
There's a lot of repetitive information out there. It's better to read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" 10 times than 10 books like it. What I realized is you internalize the main points of a book when you focus on just that book, rather than quickly turning to the next.
This is also relatable to how we treat our goals.
Are we investing everything we have into a specific goal before moving onto the next? It's important to take life one step at a time, and we shouldn't spread ourselves too thin.
7. It's okay to be lost.
After reading 120 books to figure out the next steps I should take on my life journey, I realized I won't ever take a life-changing step with 100 percent certainty. So, I should learn to enjoy taking risks based on the imperfect information until I find out where I belong.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't to calculate the bigger moves you make in life. But for the most important ones, you'll only find the answers in your heart.