How My Reading Goals Helped Change My Social Media Habits.

You all gave me some GREAT suggestions when I posted about trying to make my reading goal two weeks ago. I basically opened up the comments on that thread and opened up my library web page and started placing a bunch on hold! I am now down to only 10 books!

Several people have asked how I’ve managed to read 100 books I joke and say, “I got laid off in February!” and that’s the secret. But I’ll be honest, I could have done it even with my job because I have learned how much time I spent on social media and watching TV in my efforts to REALLY crank up the reading in the last 3 months as I’ve tried to push towards my goal.

Honestly, since I have no job, I could have read more. April through June looked almost blank as I was adjusting to my travel back and forth to Tennessee, so imagine if I had really focused on reading still those months. And also? I didn’t REALLY replace TV/Social Media with reading until sometime in October when I realized I needed to A) distance myself from social media for my mental health and B) make more time for reading so I could meet my goal.

If I had started in January giving up social media and television and stayed focused all year? I could have read 150!

So I’m going to stick with the goal again in 2019. I’m going to keep my “less TV, MUCH LESS social media” method and just use the flexibility it gives me to allow time to read more challenging books. Most of the year I’d throw in some non-fictions and some longer/heavier reads amidst that fantasies and YA (although, let’s be honest, some of the fantasies and YAs I’ve read have been dark/heavy/hard reads) but these last two months that’s been tricky since I’ve been on such a tight schedule for reading! So I’ll keep my 2019 goal to read 100 books but if I keep focused on reading instead of scrolling social media I’ll have time to read a wide assortment of books. 

The other thing I found is that by breaking the social media habit, I seem to have shattered some of it’s effect on me. Novelty Bias is that pull towards “new” experiences that we have. We see it clearly when we get a rush of neurochemicals in our brains by scrolling through instagram or social media or check our emails because it’s something NEW and EXCITING and our brains respond to that like they do to LOVE and FOOD! But I found that by breaking that habit significantly, I don’t get that same rush when I do check anymore. 

I mean, I’m still driven towards it, just like I’m driven to grab that second beer at night or that 4th cookie at book club. But I’m getting a clearer grasp of the control social media has over my lizard brain and by resisting it more, that Novelty Bias response is not quite as quick or as instantaneous as it used to be. 

I didn’t block it all on my computer, I just stopped opening my computer during the day and opening a book instead. I did keep it all off my phone (all but instagram) but I can still check it when I log into my browser on my phone. I don’t pull that out often during the day anymore, that’s a Waiting In Line kind of move now. So, just like with the beer/food/exercise/water goals that I wrote about this week, I kept my social media diet changes within reach. I still check so I know what’s going on around town and in my friend’s lives, but not enough to thwart my efforts to read more and scroll less. 

But it’s the read more that’s the key. I’m not usually so goal driven, I like to STRIVE towards goals but I don’t freak out if I don’t reach them, but this 100 books thing has really been fun for me and so it has really helped me face that Novelty Bias head on and say, “You know what else might be a new and exciting experience besides scrolling through Facebook right now? THE NEXT 10 PAGES OF THAT BOOK YOU ARE READING!”

I’m not saying setting a book goal would help everyone break their social media habits but it has been a wonderful side effect of my goal – shattering the compulsion to stay updated ALL OF THE TIME on ALL OF THE OUTRAGE and ALL OF THE HOT TAKES and ALL OF THE PARENTING ARTICLES THAT MAKE ME DOUBT MY EVERY MOVE WHILE RAISING MY KIDS.

Coming Soon…my 2018 roundup of the books I’ve read this year! I’ve read some AMAZING ones!!!!

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