June 2, 2021

Why I Stopped Reading

There’s this notion in the self-development space that you should always keep reading.

The idea is that by sacrificing a short amount of time each day, you’re able to invest in your own education and self-development.

But is that all you’re sacrificing?

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” 
— Herbert A. Simon.

Photo by José Martín Ramírez Carrasco on Unsplash

There are some things I aim to do every single day. Exercise. Prayer. Work.

But for some reason, I never hold myself accountable for reading every day. From personal experience, there are some days where I’d prefer to act on the ideas already in my head. It was something I innately understood but never took the time to reflect on.

The best way I can explain my subconscious reasoning is using an analogy:

If you went to a sweet shop to buy £1 of sweets and you had 100 to choose from, how long would it take you to buy one? The decision is already difficult as it is, but what if the shop keeper brings out 10 new sweets every minute, how would you ever be able to stop and make a decision? Every time you come close to deciding, you have more sweets to consider, delaying that decision even further.

Consistent reading is like constantly bringing new sweets into your life. You may get something new and exciting, but you might end up taking less action with the ones already in front of you. 

Too much reading can paralyse us with unactionable intelligence.

Sometimes, the aim is not to find the best sweet, but to actually buy one and eat it.

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” 
— Albert Einstein

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

It’s been said that reading allows us to “stand on the shoulders of giants”. 

When we read books from great minds, we too see how they see. The problem is that it’s too comfortable standing on tall shoulders. So, we sit down, rest up and set up camp there.

Making our own contribution to the world means taking a leap, something we hesitate to do if we risk flat on our faces. 

When we put ourselves out there, we have ‘skin in the game’, something to lose if things don’t go as planned.

So, we curate rather than create.

We reiterate rather than iterate.

We continue reading, when we know we should be doing.

If you dissect the daily routine of your favourite thinkers and creators, I think you’ll find they don’t consume as much as they contribute

Don’t be afraid to stop reading. It might be the last thing you should be doing.

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