How many times have I made my list of resolutions with some gusto on New Year’s day, only to forget what they were by the end of the month?
Good intentions are not enough.
They need to transition into a plan. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
For years I wanted to read more, and I would say, “Oh, there is a long weekend coming up. I”ll read then, but as every woman knows, that doesn’t necessarily happen. We can’t wait for hours of reading time to come our way. We need to be intentional.
Many women hold a deep (perhaps subconscious) belief that self-care is selfish. They conclude that it’s okay to take care of themselves if—and only if—everyone else’s needs are met. This belief is illogical. A woman spiraling in this direction is in danger of being depleted. And a depleted soul has little to give anyone. This type of unbalanced martyrdom ends up actually hurting the people we love because we destroy our own capacity to serve them.
When I was a young mother in a book club for the first time, I realized I was participating in something that was helping me grow as a person. After we moved, reading the classics faded out of my routine. With precious little free time, I felt guilty about taking the time to read a novel. I hate to admit it, but reading felt like a waste of time. Yet that early positive experience was a clue for me that reading was a source of life for my soul.
Today, reading is a regular part of my life that I treasure. But I do have to intentionally guard it. No one in the family is going to make sure that I take time each week to read. My failure to be a faithful reader won’t cause anyone in my family to panic—at least not the way they might panic if there weren’t groceries in the fridge.
In the short term, my not reading could easily go unnoticed by everyone. Just like no one would really notice if I neglected to plant tomatoes and onions in our garden in the spring. But if I do the hidden work of planting seeds in spring, I’ll later reap a harvest that will bless my family and even some neighbors. In a similar way, if I do the hidden work of receiving good ideas and stories and insights and words, my mind becomes a fruitful garden that can bless the people around me with meaningful conversations and a deeper, broader perspective on life.
Investing in my own growth and development through reading today—even though it doesn’t feel urgent—will bear fruit in years to come. That fruit might take the form of deep, significant conversations with teenagers and adult children. It is not against our families when we work to fit reading into our schedule, it is for them. Meaningful mothering down the road comes from intentional living now.
So, be inspired! Reading is a way to take care of our hearts! Let’s encourage one another this year to be intentional with our desire to read more. Make the time to invest in your reading practice and discover what fruit will blossom in your life.
Marcie Stokman is the founder and president of the international movement and book club the Well-Read Mom (WRM). With a passion for reading and motherhood, she writes and speaks to encourage women in a world of rising isolation, loneliness, and mental health issues. Through the power of reading together and reading well, Well-Read Moms across the country are finding friendships, meaning, and true leisure. Connecting on a deeper level and serving others in their search for purpose is Marcie’s passion.
If you are looking to be more intentional in your reading resolution consider joining Well-Read Mom’s In This House of Brede read-along starting January 18th. Find out more here.
To find out more about how Well-Read Mom helps women read more and read well. Click here.
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