You would have experienced this – You buy a book and initially are excited to read it. In a week, you read 100 pages and are happy about it. In the next week, your motivation decreases and you just read 50 pages. A week after that you read just 20 pages and then you stop reading.
You feel you are not able to read the book because of lack of motivation. Then you start asking questions – how to find motivation to read or how to generate the interest in reading? Your wish is to always be motivated to read books. But that’s impossible because motivation is not going to last forever.
Focus should not be on finding the motivation or generating the interest but focus should be on building the habit of reading. You should use the initial motivation/interest for building the habit of reading . Once the reading habit is formed, it will then take control and you can read regularly irrespective of the motivation. Therefore the question you need to ask yourself is – How to build the reading habit? And not how to develop interest/motivation for reading?
As in The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg mentioned that building habit requires three things – Cue, Routine, and Reward.
Cues are the trigger points which act as a reminder to start the activity. Let’s assume you have decided to read every morning. A cue for that can be keeping a book/Kindle near your bed so that when you wake up it acts as a reminder. Once the cue is done, you need a routine to follow. Routine can be reading at least 15 pages every day and being away from your phone at that time. Once you complete the activity, reward yourself. It might be as simple as watching a tv episode/eating chocolates/spending time on social media etc.
Many people do this cue and routine thing nicely but they tend to ignore the third part – “Reward” as they feel it is very childish but it plays a key role in forming the habit.
Once you reward yourself for doing the reading activity, from the next day, your brain gets happy not only after receiving the reward but even by anticipation of it. Therefore the brain finds enough motivation to do the reading activity, as it is already happy because of the reward which it is going to get after the activity. In short, you don’t feel happy just after receiving the reward but even with the idea of receiving it.
For me, the CUE is keeping book beside my bed so that I read as soon as I wake up. Routine is to keep the phone away and not to do any other activity until and unless I am done reading at least 50 pages. The reward is – spending half an hour on WhatsApp. So on the days when I don’t feel like reading, the excitement to check my WhatsApp messages motivates me to read those pages.
You need to experiment with different Cue, Routine, and Reward and see what works for you. Once you find it, make sure to follow it for at least 90 days and reading will become a daily habit irrespective of motivation or interest.
Author – Rupak Shah