Reading isn’t just for students. When you keep reading, even after graduating from high school and college, you set yourself up for success. People who read often and continue to learn over the course of their lifetime are more equipped to succeed in their chosen field.
Below are a few ways that reading a lot can help you succeed.
1. Reading exercises your brain.
Reading helps exercise your brain. When you exercise your body, you help build up strength in your muscles. If you neglect physical activity for long enough, your muscles can atrophy, leading to bad muscle tone and the inability to do strenuous activity.
The same is true for your brain. When you frequently exercise your brain by reading, you build up your ability to learn. It may seem strange, but you actually have to learn how to learn, especially when you’re older.
Although a lot of learning comes naturally through experience, it takes a serious effort to cultivate a habit of learning over the course of your lifetime.
It’s important to keep your brain active. It can help you learn the information necessary to succeed in your field, but it can also help you maintain brain function as you age. People who habitually read are better able to remember information.
The natural aging process reduces one’s ability to retain information. Some of that ability can be maintained by exercising your mind through reading. If you’re constantly learning information by reading, you also equip yourself to learn new ideas and skills quickly.
This skill can be exceptionally helpful if you’re in a new job or field. Even if your previous learning doesn’t directly help you in your new job, your ability to learn new skills can be developed by reading regularly.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
– Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
2. Reading helps you learn new ideas.
When you read a lot, you open yourself up to learning new ideas, new solutions to your problems, and new theories about the world. When you read a book, you’re exposed to the author’s ideas, research, and theories about a variety of subjects.
You can use these new ideas to improve your work in your current job or use the information to leverage a new, better position. When an interviewer asks if you know about a certain topic, the information you’ve gained reading may allow you to say, “Yes, I know about that.”
Reading a lot about a specific topic can also help you to become an expert in your field. When you focus on one or two topics in your reading, you gain knowledge that allows you to specialize in a certain area.
For example, if you spend a lot of time reading about grief counseling, you may be able to keep up with most of the newly released books on the topic, making you an expert in that area. You can use this information to improve your own work or to publish a book of your own.
3. Reading makes you a more interesting conversationalist.
A huge part of being successful in any job is the ability to converse easily with others. When you read a lot, you gain more topics to discuss with others. You won’t be limited to talking about the weather.
Reading not only helps you make interesting conversation, but it helps gives you the confidence to speak on certain topics. If you don’t have experience and haven’t read about a topic, you may not speak up when the topic comes up.
However, reading can give you the information you need to thoughtfully engage others on a variety of topics.
“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”
– Fran Lebowitz
4. Reading expands your horizons.
Reading helps you expand your horizons. When you read, you learn about different people, different cultures, and different ideas. Best of all, you don’t need to travel to a place or visit people to learn about them.
While there’s no real substitute for actually traveling, reading can help you have knowledge about cultures different than your own. When you read about people with viewpoints different from your own, you gain empathy for their positions.
If you know about more things and are knowledgeable about other perspectives, you’re better able to relate to people who are different from you are. This can lead to success or opportunities with a wide variety of jobs.
A large part of the success depends on your ability to get along with different types of people. Reading can help you with this.
5. Reading can keep you inspired.
Reading can help keep you inspired when you might otherwise be unmotivated. When you read about other peoples’ success, you can be inspired to create the success of your own.
When you read regularly, you’re more motivated to work toward your goals. Even if the books you read don’t directly offer solutions to the problems you’re facing, seeing how others have approached their problems can help you overcome a wide variety of issues.
6. Reading reduces stress.
People love to read for a reason. Not only is it a good way to learn new things, but it’s a good way to reduce your stress levels. While many people reach for fiction books to reduce their stress, a memoir or other nonfiction book can also help reduce stress levels.
Reading offers you an opportunity to escape the everyday stressors in your life, even if only for a few minutes at a time.
If you’re better able to manage your stress, you’re better equipped to be successful in the future. While the stress reduction from reading may not directly lead to your success, your lowered stress levels can give you the tools you need for future success.
7. Reading improves your writing skills.
If you want to be a gifted writer, it’s important that you regularly read. Reading allows you to learn writing patterns, vocabulary, and styles that will help you build writing skills.
Even if the primary function of your job does not involve writing, writing skills are important for success. A corporate job may require you to write memos, emails, press releases, and more.
Successful people need to be able to write in a clear and professional way. Reading regularly can help you improve your writing skills.
“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
8. Reading can help your concentration.
When you read regularly, you improve your ability to concentrate over long periods of time. Reading regularly builds your capacity to focus, allowing you to spend more time concentrating on important work.
You can also read books specifically on the topic of improving concentration and focus. There are lots of books out there that can help you learn techniques that will help you concentrate on your work.
When you learn to work without distractions, you equip yourself to succeed in your education and in your job. Natural giftedness is nice, but learning discipline can help even the least naturally gifted individuals succeed at work.
9. Reading can help you adapt to technological changes.
Older workers often struggle to adapt to a changing work landscape.
In his book, How Starbucks Saved My Life, Michael Gates Gill writes about losing his corporate job. Because he had been in the workforce for so long, the company was paying him about three times as much as they could pay a young person right out of college.
That, combined with his inability to keep up with the changing business landscape, led to him losing his corporate job and benefits. To survive financially, he took a job at a local Starbucks store.
No one wants to lose a good job in their field because they aren’t able to keep up with younger employees. Reading can help you adapt to changing expectations and learn new technologies.
While reading won’t prevent you from losing your job, it can help you keep up with technological changes and business trends, making you a valuable asset to your company.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
– Walt Disney
Reading regularly is an important piece to becoming successful in almost any field. Most successful people read regularly and have dedicated themselves to being lifelong learners. The time they’ve invested in reading has helped them to be experts in their fields.
So how much time should you spend reading each day?
If you’re currently not reading at all or only reading on occasion, even a small amount of reading added to your daily schedule can help you. For some, this means spending twenty minutes in the morning or right before bed reading a book. Others dedicate significant portions of their day to reading.
If you’re in a field that requires intellectual growth, such as education or science, the time you spend reading is an important part of your future success. These individuals may spend hours each day reading, completing a hundred books or more over the course of the year.
If you’re unsure how much you should read, take some time to set some reading goals. Create a list of books you want to read over the next year, and just get started. Reading only benefits you when you take time to actually do it.