How To Read More Books: My #1 Online Motivation Tool

I’m an avid reader. It’s one of my very favourite activities, and it has enriched my life in many more ways than I can enumerate. Books have given me many gifts, chief among them my vocabulary, my understanding of the world, my conversation topics, and – more likely than not – my love of writing.

It physically pains me when people say that a) they don’t like to read, or b) they don’t have time. If you lean more towards a) – I am sad for you. You don’t know what you’re missing! Maybe you’re not reading the right things. Don’t be afraid to try a different genre (sci-fi, culture studies, romance?) of book, or format (short stories, choose-your-own-adventure?). I’m sure there’s a story out there that will grip you, shake you, and spit you back out utterly changed. (In a good way, if that wasn’t immediately obvious).

As for those who agree with statement b)..Codswallop! There’s time. Believe it, there’s time. (Read more about how to make time for your passions.) Are you watching TV while you eat? Could be reading. Are you listening to music on your commute? Could be reading. Are you paying attention in class? Could be reading. (Totally kidding.) There is, of course, the possibility that you’d rather not be reading, and if so: I redirect you to the paragraph above.

For now, let’s operate on the principle that you’d like to be reading, but you can’t find the motivation to make it a priority. Trust me, for all my love of the written word, I can totally understand this notion. More often than I’d like to admit, my books get tossed aside in favour of my shiny, interactive, exciting laptop. And even though I have these insane goals, like read 100 books in 2011, sometimes I shrug them off, and watch MasterChef instead.

So! How did I, a distractable fool of a girl, manage to read 32 books in 32 weeks this year?

Break The Rules

Photo thanks to fulbert05

..Banish the guilt. Boot the hesitations out the window. Crack open the windows of your soul and let in the fresh air. Don’t doubt.

If you’re my age, you’re handling a tricky time. Famous psycholgist Erik Erikson (great name, huh?) proposed that humans of ages 12-18 are struggling with their identity versus role confusion. During this stage, we try to determine who we are apart from our families and what we want in our lives. If we’re unsuccessful, we experience confusion and conflict. Sounds like heavy stuff, but I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about.

Everyone experiences the same struggle to figure out “who they are”: ie. their values, opinions, likes & dislikes, preferences, attitudes, standards. Along the way, as we try to find strength in our newly shapen identity, we stick (stubbornly) to our guns about our self-imposed opinions & tastes. At times, I’ve been known to insist I hate something that I haven’t tried, since I’ve already decided it doesn’t jibe with who I’ve decided to be. I’m sure you’ve all experienced that as well, either with yourself, or with friends and family.

The point is: it’s understandable, this stubbornness. No one can fault you for trying, in this crazy world, to figure out who you are and, once you’ve got it, stick to it with every ounce of your being. It makes sense!

But never be afraid to break the rules.

Never be afraid to smash down the restrictions you’ve set for yourself, when you said “oh, no, I’m not that kind of person” or “I can’t stand zucchini” or “I never stay up past midnight” or “I only like clothes in shades of black, white or grey”. Challenge yourself. Step up to the plate and break all your own rules. Your identity is important, but nobody else cares too much about whether or not it’s consistent. Try on different hats! Experience new things! See for yourself. Never get so boxed into your identity that you don’t try things you think seem fun or interesting.

If you want to, then..

…try the wackiest fruit in the grocery store, even though it’s “too exotic for you”

…start a blog, even though you have “nothing important to say”

…read the news, even though you “don’t really care about politics”

…read the tabloids, even though “they’re much too fluffy for your taste”

…take a nap mid-day, even though that’s “highly unproductive”

…try a recipe you think looks delicious, even though “it’s much too complicated for you”

…buy a vibrator, even though “you’re not that kind of girl”

…go out to a speech instead of a club, even though “that’s totally lame & nerdy”

…cry, even though “real men don’t do that”

…sleep around (safely, of course), even though “real ladies would never”

…use the five-second rule, even though “that’s disgusting!”

…eat nothing but junk food all day, even though “you don’t even like food like that”

…go figure skating, skiing, dancing, karaokeing, surfing, biking, running, even if “you’re not very good”

do whatever you want.*


To a lot of you, this advice may seem totally intuitive. If it does, I applaud you. You’ve managed to keep yourself from being tied to a rigid identity. But I suspect that many of us are guilty of falling victim to this technique of saying: “that’s just not me”, and limiting ourselves from new experiences. Or, if we free ourselves from our restrictions, we feel an automatic sense of guilt about doing something outside the norm. We feel we’ve failed, somehow. I urge you (and myself) to escape this guilt. Say bye-bye!

If you feel like doing something, do it. Don’t question whether or not it’s right for you (it is, by the very nature of you wanting to do it), don’t worry that it contradicts “who you are”, don’t feel guilty about having done something you’ve previously deemed “uncool”, “unproductive” or “not like you”. Live your life first, and your identity will come later.

Happy adventuring, loves!


*Edit: It’s been pointed out to me that maybe some of these statements would imply going against your personal values/morals. That was not my intention! I’m not implying that you should push yourself to do anything that doesn’t jibe with your core standards. My only goal with this article was to serve as a reminder that our self-imposed ‘rules’ do not need to be so rigid. By all means, if something really isn’t you, at your very core, then don’t do it! Sorry for any misunderstanding. :) xo

New Years Resolutions 2011

This post was updated January 1st, 2012!

Happy 2011!! Are you as excited as me about this brand new start, clean slate, chance for reflection and growth? Here’s how excited I am: me and one of my biffles, Isabelle, rang in the new year with champagne, a bonfire and stinky cheeses before reading ‘Oh! The Places You’ll Go‘ and brainstorming ideas and resolutions for 2011. We got out pens and paper and wrote down all the things we’d like to be better at, & all the things we’d like to accomplish before this time next year. No dream was too big, and there was absolutely no ‘reality’ check/negativity/cynicism, since dreams need encouragement in order to be achieved! We got all giddy and excited about the possibilities that the future holds, and now I am more jazzed up than ever! Bring it on 2011. :)

Looking back to my 2010 resolutions, I can see that I made a mistake. I was fairly vague in some of my resolutions: “take more chances” and “update my blog more” are not, in my opinion, very clear or easy to achieve. There’s no way of knowing if you’ve really succeeded! So even though I think I accomplished about 7/10 of my last year’s resolutions, it’s not concrete enough for me. I’d prefer goals that I can easily check off: done. That’s why this year, I’m only putting on specific, clear goals. Even though this type of resolutions are a bit scarier to put into words than the vague kind (ex. “be a better friend”), I think they’ll ultimately be more effective for me. They’ll kick my butt into high gear! So without further ado, my resolutions for 2011:

Personal Goals

By personal goals, I mean concrete, specific achievements I’d like to accomplish by 2012.

  • Post on my blog at least twice a week. Actual total: 78.
  • Read 100 books. Actual total: 50. 
  • Get a massage. Blissful, in Cancun!
  • Spend 1 month eating vegan. Not quite a month. About 2 weeks. 
  • Attend TEDxMcGill. Check!
  • Complete some kind of physical challenge. Did not accomplish this one.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo. Check!
  • Watch the Top 250 movies on IMDB. Not even close. But this goal taught me something important: I’m not that crazy about watching movies!
  • Do one cultural activity per month
  • Save $1000.00 for travelling.
  • Get into the honours psychology program at my school. I applied, but didn’t make it.
  • Get a pet of some kind. Didn’t do this one! 
  • Host a dinner party.
  • Do some sort of detox.
  • Go on a retreat. I wish I had gotten my act together on this one, but I didn’t make the time. 
  • Attend a conference on something I find fascinating. Does TED count?!
  • Have photos and writing published.
  • Find my dream apartment. Maybe not my dream apartment forever, but definitely for now!


By focuses, I mean non-specific, vague ways that I’d like to improve.

  • Bring joy to others
  • Live in the moment
  • Say yes, be open to new experiences
  • Health & nutrition
  • Unconventional moneymaking
  • Be calmer & more zen
  • Travel
  • Make a difference
  • Practice my French
  • Practice my photography
  • Be a better friend
  • Eat consciously
  • Cut down on Facebook and television

What are your goals and focuses for the coming year?


101 in 1001

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as New Year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.


This list is to give me some purpose, to make certain things habits: things I always think about implementing into my life and never get around to. I don’t intend to beat myself up over it if I don’t accomplish everything on here, no regrets, right? It will just be a guideline, a motivation for me to live my best life. I’ll make a point of tracking my progress on my blog as well as writing about it. I’m starting on the 22nd because that’s when I leave for school, and start my new life.

Start Date: Saturday, August 22, 2009.

End Date: Saturday, May 19, 2012.

The List


01. Get a tattoo which is meaningful to me.

02. Donate blood at least once every six months.

03. Increase my shoe collection to ten pairs.

04. Drink 1L of water every day.

05. Lose 5-10 pounds and maintain that weight.

06. Exercise twice a week, even if it’s just a walk.

07. Moisturize! After every shower.

08. Stretch every weekday night before bed.

09. Get one massage a year. Do it!

10. Don’t drink pop except when at a restaurant (only Sprite..Coke sucks anus)

11. Get to bed every weekday night before 1AM at the latest (with exceptions for big assignments and only during school nights)

12. Drink responsibly & with water in between..no hangovers.

13. Get one manicure every six months. That means growing out your nails.

14. Take typing classes online to learn how to type more efficiently.

15. Go rock-climbing twice.

16. Take a yoga or step class.

17. Dance every single day.

18. Private.

19. Remain a vegetarian/organic meat eater.

20. Try one new restaurant a month.

21. Try to get a daily dose of hugs.

22. Take a ballroom dancing/salsa dancing class.

23. Cook for myself once a week.

24. Go horseback riding.


25. Write either a blog post or a one page journal entry every day.

26. Read one non-school related book every month.

27. Write one letter a week.

28. Buy small Sudoku/crossword book or app, and use as much as possible.

29. Learn how to do basic mental math by practicing often.

30. Reply to one veryserious / plinky / random prompt a week.

31. Be an active member of two clubs associated with my school.

32. Become involved in a research project.

33. Spend a semester abroad.

34. Learn to drive stick-shift.

35. Buy and read the Saturday paper every week.

36. Learn one really good card trick.

37. Read three biographies of amazing individuals: Einstein to start.

38. Learn to and play strip poker with good friends.

39. Go to one movie alone every two months.

40. Save 7$ a week into an account strictly for travel.

41. Learn two songs by heart on the piano & guitar.

42. Speak French every day.

43. Start writing a novel.

44. Start writing a play.

45. Join or start a book club.

46. Join the theatre group at my school.

47. Write down a memory a day.

48. Write one letter a year on futureme.

49. Keep an ongoing list/journal of things that made me smile.

50. Take cooking classes or art classes.


51. Volunteer every year.

52. Always get Free Hugs when people are giving them.

53. Fall in love.

54. Throw a surprise party.

55. Skinny dip once a year.

56. Schedule Skype dates with my loved ones.

57. Email special people at least once a month.

58. Work at a kissing booth once.

59. Love my body.

60. Sleep under the stars.

61. Pick up trash once a year.

62. Spend 10 minutes a day on freerice.com

63. Buy one lottery ticket every year for my mom.

64. Loan money on Kiva.

65. Keep a dream journal.

66. Have my palm read.

67. Go geocaching.

68. Do one thing a month that scares me and keep a log of them.

69. Go for a picnic at least once a year.

70. Make a smile my default expression.

71. Take a self defense class.

72. Go on a solo date once a month.

73. Learn to change a flat tire.

74. Watch one classic movie a month.

75. Always recycle.

76. Do a 7-day detox once a year.

77. Laugh every single day.

78. Host a Christmas party.

79. Don’t hold grudges.

80. Take care of a plant.

81. Go camping once a year.

82. Watch the sunset or sunrise once a year.

83. Try one new restaurant a month.

84. Spend time outside every day.

85. Go see a play once every couple months.

86. Spend a day taking pictures.

87. Attend a fashion show.

88. Take a photography class.

89. Have a tea party.

90. Have a breakfast party.

91. Go to a poetry reading.

92. Travel once a year.

93. Take a roadtrip.

94. Learn about religion and discover my own spirituality.


95. Collect as much art, books and movies as my budget can afford.

96. Be the best friend possible.

97. Make a list of things I love about myself.

98. Always go with my gut.

99. Never forget my family and friends’ birthdays.

100. Blog about my success with this list.

101. Make another 101/1001 list.

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