Struggling in your reading life? Learn the best reading goals for adults and the easiest hacks for exactly how to reach them fast.
I am a book lover who read over 100+ books last year, and I am also a self-proclaimed habits and goals aficionado who has learned to balance A LOT over the years between full-time work, blogging, life (including moving recently!), and reading, and I am here to share with you all my favorite hacks to challenge yourself in your reading life, no matter your specific goal.
First, I share eleven different types of reading goals for adults to set (both beginner and advanced), and then I share my best tips for reaching goals yourself, whether in the new year or beyond.
The Best Reading Goals for Adults
Below are 11 types of reading goals for adults to set, both beginner and advanced to get you thinking about what may be helpful for you to achieve.
4 Beginner Reading Goals for Adults
Below are four very common goals for those in the "beginner" stage of focusing on reading or those looking to get back into reading. They are the perfect place to start!
- Read more books.
- Spend more time reading.
- Participate in a reading challenge (like my Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge).
- Join a book club (like these celebrity book clubs).
7 Advanced Reading Goals for Adults
And for those advanced readers who are already very bookish, below is a list of seven things in which you may be interested as a good reading goal.
- Track your reading via a reading journal or other means.
- Read different genres or a more diverse range of books.
- Organize or declutter your bookshelves.
- Read more "back list books" than newly published books.
- Buy less books and/or read the books you already own.
- Read in a different format(s) (like a Kindle or Audible books).
- Read LESS books. (Yes, this is a thing. Like anything, balance is important.)
How to Reach Your Reading Goals
- Now that you know about 11 different types of reading goals for adults, let's talk about how to reach them.
- Set a specific and realistic reading goal.
- Know "why" you want to achieve your reading goal.
- Set yourself up for success.
- Track your reading goal.
- Be mindful of digressions and get back on track.
- Make it fun and satisfying.
Set a specific and realistic reading goal.
First, choose your own reading goal. Above are 11 great broad options, but I recommend you use them as a starting point and then make your own personal goal both more specific and realistic to what you think is both challenging and achievable for YOU.
For example, if you read one book last year and you want to read more books this year, then maybe your goal can be to have 6 or 12 books read this year (one every month or every other month). This is more challenging than what you would have done the year prior, but it's not totally unreasonable to think you can read half a book to one book each month.
On a related note, I also think it helps to have a goal that can be broken down into smaller steps. Big goals can feel really overwhelming, but when you break them down, your small steps compound over time. When I started this blog, I was working full time, but I decided to take at least one action per day no matter what, and it really astounded me how fast I created something big out of nothing.
Listing specific quantities in a goal can also feel more tangible and make it easier to track your goals and hold yourself accountable. It's the difference between saying, "I'd love to go to Hawaii someday," versus, "each week, I will spend one hour planning our trip to Hawaii, where we will go by the end of this year." The second one sounds so much more likely to actually occur, right?!
Know "why" you want to achieve your reading goal.
Second, know exactly "why" you are setting your particular reading goal. Perhaps you want to learn a specific skillset or attain one or more of the many benefits of reading.
Whatever it is, this is the big picture that will drive your day-to-day actions towards a greater goal and help you stay on or get back on track.
I encourage you to be specific with this as well. For example, there's a difference in goal setting between thinking in your mind that you wish you were smarter and telling yourself that you want to read more books so you can learn how to become a real estate agent and pay off your credit card debt. Again, you are far more likely to strive towards a goal and actually accomplish it when your specific reasoning is very clear.
Set yourself up for success.
Third, set yourself up for success. If you set a goal then take no specific actions in the direction of that goal, what are the chances you will actually achieve it?!
Depending on your specific reading goal, setting yourself up for success can look like:
- conducting research (this website is a great start!),
- creating a list,
- reaching out to others,
- waking up earlier,
- committing to do something else less,
- scheduling time to work towards your book goals, and so on.
What specific actions can you take to reach your particular reading goal?
For example, if your goal is to read more books, this may be as simple as always having a book on hand, whether digital or hard copy, or creating a list of books that interest you. Or, perhaps you will unsubscribe from a tv streaming service or remove an app from your phone.
One of the biggest tips I can give you to set yourself up for success is to try to make it as easy as possible to work towards your goal. At the end of the day, we are simple people who tend to do what's easy and avoid what's hard.
(I learned this gem from the book Atomic Habits, so if you like it, perhaps your first step towards reaching your reading goal will be to read this book too!)
Track your reading goal.
Fourth, track your goal and be accountable for it. I am a "lists" person by nature, so I highly recommend this step. If it's not written down, there's so much less of a chance you may do it. And some types of tracking (like keeping a budget, for example) can provide clarity as to where you really stand and prevent you from digging your head in the sand, so to speak.
I like to track the books I read each year on Goodreads, and I keep a written list of books I want to read each month in my monthly planner. Instagram story templates are also fun. There are so many reading trackers available, you just need to choose what you think will work best for you, or even create your own.
Besides tracking your reading goals, hanging around with like-minded people can really help you be accountable for achieving them. It can be as simple as having an accountability buddy you text with or participating in a book club or other community like Bookstagram.
There's something about being around like-minded people that really drives you forward and helps you create lasting change. We tend to mirror the people we associate with. So, choose wisely!
Be mindful of digressions and get back on track.
Fifth, be mindful of the times you want to or do digress from your reading goal, then get back on track by referring to your "why" and taking positive steps back in the direction of your goal.
Mindfulness is not about being perfect. It's about recognizing a digression for what it is and getting back on track towards reaching your reading goals.
This can mean simply telling yourself, "This is a distraction from my reading goals," when you are mindlessly scrolling through social media or thinking of any reason you can why you don't have time for your goal.
It's all about recognizing what's a digression for YOU and finding a way that works for YOU to overcome it. There is no "one size fits all." At the end of the day, we are all responsible for ourselves.
A few things that have helped me reach my reading goals have been turning the notifications off of my phone, noting my screen time each week, and physically moving my phone away from me. I have also learned to set better boundaries in my life, which has been absolutely life-changing!
I am also a firm believer in keeping a positive mindset as much as possible. If you keep saying things like, "I never have time to read," how do you expect to make changes that provide more time for you to read?! A better, yet still realistic, mantra may be, "I choose to find time to read each week no matter how busy I am."
On the same note, when the day-to-day gets tough, you may wish to refer back to the bigger picture -- your "why" -- to fully understand you are doing something difficult now in order to obtain something better later.
You can also think about what has really worked for you try to do more of that. For example, I tend to get a workout done better in the mornings, so if I wake up and tell myself, "Later," I then remind myself that this is my optimal time.
I also encourage you to identify yourself with your goal. For example, you can say "I am an avid reader," instead of saying "I want to be an avid reader." You are what you believe you are! Confidence can be a game-changer in chasing any goal.
Also, remember to give yourself grace when you need it and to understand that no one is ever perfect. Many times the most successful person will be the most resilient one.
Make it fun and satisfying.
Last but not least, make your reading goals both fun and satisfying! This is especially helpful when you are reading classic books. I have no doubt that ANY reading goal you set will enrich your life. It shouldn't feel like a chore.
Think about what would feel really satisfying to YOU. Since I am a "lists" person, I really bask in the simple joy of crossing something off my list. I also find it satisfying to stop reading books I am not really enjoying, which helps keep reading fun for me in the long run.
Someone else, however, may find it satisfying to post a weekly or monthly recap on social media.
You may want to refer back to other goals you have achieved and what really felt good about working towards and achieving them.
Another thing you can do is to give yourself rewards for reaching your goals. If you are my age, you may recall getting a free personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut when you met your reading goals a particular month. Rewards can be extremely motivating!
Those are the eleven best reading goals for adults and how to reach them. I hereby challenge you to set your own reading goal and take action now to achieve it.