How can I come to like learning and reading instead of doing mindless things?

Hur man går från dataspelande till att läsa fler böcker.

Answer by Brandon Lee:

I wondered this for a very long time as a teenager, back when I regularly spent all-nighters gaming, and ironically, it was gaming that gave me the insight to overcome my psychological barriers.

Learning/reading are mentally demanding tasks and that's the main struggle, I remember thinking, "Man, I should really read instead of aimlessly burning the next 5 hours on the computer. Uhhhhh but that sounds like work… Hello computer!"

But then I noticed, whenever I encountered a new, balanced, and challenging game (Desktop TD — pictured below — and Gemcraft come to mind), my brain sharpened up, fully engaged, and became alert in order to beat that level/stage/wave.

I'd all of a sudden have this stubborn diligence to test and perfect my strategy, even if it took an hour to figure it out.

Where the heck did all that motivation and focus come from!? I reflected on that and noticed:

  1. There was a clear reward/benefit. Upgrades, advancing, and the ability to tackle the next level — progress feels good! Which led to
  2. A clear objective. Beat the level — it's obvious when I have/haven't made it, it's also encouraging when I know I'm getting very close!
  3. There was a sense of challenge — not a cakewalk (boring), but not impossible (discouraging)

And then I recollected on the reasons why I  had picked up books in the past and had read with a similar alertness, focus, and level of engagement:

  1. Often it was after someone told me what they were able to accomplish because of what they read the book (clear reward/benefit).
  2. And upon asking for more details, they would elaborate and break down the principles that fueled their accomplishments (clear objective).
  3. Often, the book was a topic I hadn't already mastered (so it wasn't too familiar or boring), but wasn't something I was completely clueless about (way above my head).

In other words, I needed to be able to understand, "Oh if I read this book, this is what I will get out of it and this is how it might affect me."

That's why I hate it when someone recommends me a book by simply saying "This book is good, you should read it." Uh. Why? Unless you're someone I'm studying or greatly admire, that recommendation means squat to me.

But if you tell me, "You should read this book, I was able to understand XYZ and  was able to accomplish A, B, and C because of it!! It's changed how I see in so many other ways." Holy crap, your book will jump up to the top (or near the top) of my list.

Here's a great example of what I just described:
Brandon Lee's answer to I'm 17. What books would you recommend to me to improve myself?

In my answer, each "nutshell" that I provided, I explain "this is what you will learn and this is how it's relevant to your life." And for a few of them, I linked to outlines in case my nutshell didn't suffice. You can compare and contrast my answer with all the other answers and see a distinct difference.

So all that to say, if you want to be more "motivated" to read a book, either read reviews that explain the basic takeaways, talk to someone who has read it, or try to find an outline of the book. Take the time understand what the book actually has to offer you, otherwise you'll just be left with the nagging feeling that you should be reading, but never actually do it.

How can I come to like learning and reading instead of doing mindless things?

Posted in Motivation.


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