One Day at a Time

Number 45 on my adventure list was to complete the 52 books in 52 weeks reading challenge.  2016 was my third year attempting to reach this goal.  During my first year of this challenge, I read 31 books.  The second year, I only read 13 (eek).  But 2016 was finally my year to cross this goal off my list – I read exactly 52 books in 52 weeks.  Here’s a list and short description of the books I read this past year.

I initially set this goal back in 2013 when I first started my blog.  Reading 52 books in 52 weeks made the cut for my adventure list because I used to read all the time, but life happened and slowly I stopped being a reader.

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In undergrad and grad school, I did a lot of non-fiction reading for classes, so the last thing I wanted to do was read a book for fun.  After I graduated and started working, I had more time to read, but I didn’t.  It was easier to turn on the TV or spend hours browsing Pinterest or getting lost on Youtube.  But although that was the easier choice, those things did not leave me feeling fulfilled or happy.  Hence, I set a goal to read more.

Looking back on all of this gives me a little glow of satisfaction and pride.  I did it, one day at a time.  Today I am more the person I want to be than I was when I started this little blog three years ago.

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So how did I manage to read 52 books in one year?

By crossing Number 59 off my adventure list – become an early riser.  Just like with my goal of reading more, I have tried to become an early riser since my blog started.  And it took three years before I finally made it.  Somehow, pairing these two difficult goals was the magic solution to reaching them both.

My problem with achieving my reading goal during the first two years I attempted the challenge was that the only free time I felt like I had was after work.  But after work, I was tired and drained – reading a book was near impossible.

It was nearly midway through 2016 before I seriously started becoming an early riser.  I can’t really say what finally made this work for me.  Waking up early is something I’ve tried (and failed) to do for years.

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Perhaps it was a combination of several things perfectly aligning that finally made this happen.

First of all, a little over a year and a half ago, I started a new job.  This was my first job after graduation that had set hours, starting at 7:45 a.m. Monday-Friday.  My two previous jobs, on most days at least, did not require me to get up early as most of my appointments were in the afternoon or evenings.  So for the first time in many years (since probably high school), I had to be up and leaving the house at the same time 5 days a week.  Having a set schedule definitely helped set the tone for me becoming an early riser.

Second, I was tired of feeling rushed in the morning, drinking my coffee in the car and praying I wouldn’t be late to work.  Starting my day stressed and in a hurry was not in line with the life I wanted to live.

Third, I was determined to not fail my 52 books in 52 weeks goal a third year in a row.  Now or never was my motto.

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And finally, I realized that I was not going to reach my reading goal by trying to pick up a book after work (when I was tired) or on the weekends (when we often had plans).

And so I read many, many articles about how to wake up early.

And I tried many, many ideas from said articles, such as…

Set out your clothes the night before (this one didn’t work for me).

Move your alarm clock so you can’t turn it off without getting out of bed (this one definitely helped me get started in the beginning).

Go to bed earlier (so simple but so true).

Plan something exciting for breakfast (some days this helped).

And slowly, it happened.  I was getting up, every day, an hour before I needed to get ready for work.  I had a whole hour to myself, and it was beautiful.  I leisurely drank my coffee and read a book, and then read some more.  I drove to work, feeling peaceful because I had already had this wonderful time to myself.

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After several months of this, I realized – it’s happened.  I’m an early riser.  I did it.

And I read 52 books.

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Although I have officially crossed these goals off my list, both encompass qualities I want to continue having in my life.  I’ve still been reading this year (but at a more relaxed pace).

However, I have not been getting up early the past couple months, and that is something I want to get back to when I’m ready.  My grandpa passed away unexpectedly at the end of December, and I have been struggling with this loss.  He was one of my favorite people in the world.  I’m trying to be forgiving of myself because it has been such a difficult few months.

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Having goals and pushing yourself is great, but this loss has taught me that it’s okay to take a break when you need it.  There have been days lately when the only thing I’ve accomplished is going to work, days where I push the snooze button 5 times in a row, days where I cry the whole drive home, days where I curl up on the couch after work, and days where we eat fast food for dinner because I don’t have the energy to go to the store.  Right now, I’m taking things one day at a time.  I’m healing one day at a time.  And that is okay.

I’ll leave you with this.

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-A

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