Why you Don’t have to Finish Reading that Book (2min Read)

We are taught and encouraged to finish what we start, but maybe that does not quite apply to everything. Time is a precious resource and if we are to finish everything we start the math says we will not get to start or experience everything we might desire. This is not a post encouraging tardiness or lack of attention to detail. Just the reality check that not everything requires exactly all of your energy. I went through over 24 books last year and did not finish every single book. Yet, I was able to glean key ideas I may have missed out on if I chose to read only books I was confident I would finish.

Consider this, you probably do not read every single word of every single blog post or article you come across. You might skim a news site but pay closer attention and detail to a legal agreement. Herein lies the point. There is so much to experience in life yet only so much time and resources. The trick is knowing what deserves finishing and what might not be as deserving.

Author John Maxwell’s reference to ‘The three R’s of decision making‘ comes in handy here. It really is a guide to prioritizing. He offers the three R’s as progressive filters. My spin on this instead is that we use the three R’s to segment our experiences to figure out what is worth finishing. It asks

  • What is required of me?
  • What gives me the greatest return?
  • What gives the greatest reward?

If some experience or activity is tied to what is required of you as a parent or on your job, it requires your attention and follow through. You should be wholly present physically and mentally to something you cannot simply delegate. For those things that are not required of you, your next filter would be to figure out what gives the greatest return for the level of effort you will put in. If a task or experience has a solid ROI tied to it, then it deserves some attention. That two hour optional training or online course could go a long way to keep your skills up to date. For those things that do not scream importance or productivity, there is the filter of personal satisfaction. You can plan to take a daily walk to clear your head, but it is ok if you miss it here and there.

Life can be hectic and it can be a challenge to follow through on the things we prioritize. As long as we make the main thing the main thing, we should let the chips fall where they may. Fear of not finishing is not good enough of a reason to not start. There are many other reasons why we do not follow through or finish well and we do need to put in the effort to be better finishers. However, the next time you pick up that book to read, remember that chapter 1 might be all it takes to change your life.

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