Setting Goals

I set goals a lot. I set them for exercise, for writing, for reading, for cleaning the house–really, for anything I can. The trick I’ve found with goals is that they need to be enough to mount up, but not too much to discourage the goal-setter. If I feel successful, I’m more likely to continue with whatever the goal is.

In December, when I was discouraged with how long it was taking me to read through my current pile of books, I set a goal of reading 50 pages a day. More on that in a minute.

When I was teaching, we had a Readathon every year between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break. For those three or four weeks, every class (or most classes at least) began with ten minutes of silent reading. When we started the activity, the principal was impressed with how much it calmed down the entire school. But way bigger than that was the fact that students were reading for an extra hour a day. I had my students keep track. They wrote down the page number they started on in the morning and at checkpoints during the day.

Reading 30 or 40 or 50 pages during the day was a new experience for many students. They were completing large chunks of books in a day. Students who had never read books at home were now invested in what they were reading and read at home as well. They began to finish books. And they began to enjoy them.

It’s been three years since I’ve been at that school, but I was happy to see they are still having the readathon. I know how valuable it is.

The same thing happened to me when I made my December goal. Because I was reading more, I wanted to read even more. In the 31 days of December, I read every day. There were only 4 days in the month that I didn’t make my goal of 50 pages. The total # of pages I read was 2596 with an average of 84/day. The highest # of pages was 239 one day followed the very next day by the lowest # of pages: 3. (There might be a message in that.)

And I wonder whether other people keep track of pages read or books read or anything to do with reading.

I’ve continued to keep track in January–and continued to read more. It’s a very good thing. With the ALA awards announced this morning, I have a lot more books to read!