What reading 52 non-fiction books in 52 weeks taught me about myself, life and how to be a better person
My life in the last 18 months has been ‘unique’ to say the least. In that time, I’ve graduated as a physician, left clinical medicine, moved from Scotland to Amsterdam to start a career in venture capital and 7 months later moved to Montreal having only been to the city once before. It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind ride but throughout that time, I made a goal to read and take notes on 50 books in a year and ended up reading 52 non-fiction books in 52 weeks. Here are the 10 biggest lessons I learned:
1 – Shift your mindset
What you tell yourself in your mind every day and every second affects your life in more ways than you think. You have to change your self-talk to make it more positive and uplifting. Often times we get caught up in situations that will never happen or we have no control over but by consistently telling yourself positive thoughts, you’ll permanently change your subconscious thought process.
2 – Dream big
The world is only going to be changed by the dreamers; the ones who refuse to accept their current circumstances. Everyone has a dream when we’re kids and whether it be school or parents or friends or drugs or relationships or whatever, we stop thinking about those dreams. But, the small group of people who never stop imagining and dreaming; those are the ones that change the world.
3 – Happiness should be a daily goal
I acknowledge that everyone is put in situations you can’t control, but you can fundamentally change your environment, circumstances, and mindset to be better. Stop talking to yourself negatively and believe in yourself. Face your fears and insecurities and ask yourself why you feel that way. Invest in those close relationships. And remember, you’re a human being with access to the Internet (something 3 quarters of the world can’t use) and likely with food and shelter over your head. Acknowledge and appreciate that.
4 – Ask for feedback
The only way to get better personally and professionally is to ask the people around you for honest feedback. Most of us are scared to ask our superiors or colleagues for honest advice because it makes us feel lesser than or that we can’t figure it out on our own. However, every single one of us has so many blind spots we don’t even know exist and without asking other people for their opinions, how are you going to improve?
5 – Stay curious
You should never lose the curiosity you developed as a kid because by acquiring knowledge in different topics, you become a much more interesting and well-rounded person. To be able to have a conversation with anyone you meet and relate to them on their level is something that goes a long way.
6 – Intelligence is overrated
IQ DOES NOT EQUAL success. All of the most successful people in every industry are the ones who are more emotionally intelligent. (Daniel Coleman’s Emotional Intelligence does a great job of explaining it). The ones who are more in tune with people’s feelings and emotions, the ones who can inspire, and the ones who know when to lead and when to recede are the ones who end up becoming successful. The best part about it is that it can be learned.
7 – Stay in the moment
My generation is increasingly more concerned with the opinion of their followers when they post a picture rather than enjoying the experience with the people directly around them and it’s really affecting our emotional and mental health. We’re becoming so attached to our phones now that we forget what it’s like to just sit in silence and think. My best advice is to remove notifications off your phone, trust me it’ll change everything.
8 – Fear is our biggest insecurity
Fear is such an interesting word because it guides the direction of so many because they’re so afraid of it. Whether it be fear of failure or fear of spiders, people are too comfortable because of this word. And for what, to live a life you don’t fully enjoy? Life becomes so much more interesting when you go against the grain and don’t succumb to fear. By pushing yourself to do things you think are unachievable, you’ll realize you can do anything.
9 – Automate your savings
Whichever account you get paid out of, set up an automatic payment to a separate savings account (TFSA or Roth IRA or whatever it is where you live) on the day you get paid. Try to take at least 10% of your paycheque, if not more, and send it to that account. Trust me, you’ll never even realize that it’s gone and yet you’ll be accumulating money you can spend on whatever you want.
10 – Make time to be bored
Boredom is where your best ideas come from. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the thoughts you have in the shower are some of the greatest ideas you’ve ever come up with? There are so many stories of great people in history whose ideas came to them in the most unexpected way. Just sitting undistracted and reflecting on what you’ve done and where you want to go will make a world of difference.
*If you want to check out some of the books I read this year, check out my personal website as I’ve included all the notes I had taken on most of the books