Lowering My Yearly Reading Challenge

It’s time for another discussion, my friends! You see, at the beginning of the year, I set a reading goal. I set the goal of reading 100 books. Foolishly, I thought that I would have more time to read once I was done with college. Oh, how hopeful I was last December! But now, we’re in November. And I’m behind. Very behind. So do I lower my reading challenge or do I keep it and fail? Well, I have lots of thoughts on the matter, so let’s dive in!

Me last December

Now you may be wondering exactly how behind I am. Is this a question of being 5 books behind or 50? The answer is somewhere in between. So far this year I have completed 55 books. This makes me approximately 33 books behind schedule. To some of you this post may now seem dumb. Because how the heck am I going to catch up to my goal? The obvious answer is to lower my challenge. But here’s the thing. I’m not so sure I want to do that!

I think the best way I can explain my thought process is by going through all the options. So let’s start with what I think is the simplest option. I lower my goal. I set my new goal to a nice number, probably somewhere between 60 and 70 based on my current pace. If needed, I continue to lower it, because why not? I’d be changing the goal so that it doesn’t stress me out, so there would be no problem with me lowering it any time that number seemed unachievable and I got stressed. The obvious benefits to this choice are that I have no stress related to my reading and that I technically will always reach or even surpass my lowered goal. And that’s great! But what about the cons?

Well, a goal is set so you have something to reach for, right? Now, I may have overestimated how much time I’d have to read while setting the goal, but I’ve been behind for a while, and I’ve kept the goal because it motivates me. Even if I don’t reach the goal, I’ll be closer and closer the more books I finish. So having the goal in place encourages me to read! If I lower it, I might be removing my motivation! But I think there are other factors in play here. Let’s look at the pros and cons of NOT lowering my goal to see what other factors I’ve been considering.

So, say I don’t lower my challenge. Now there can be two outcomes. I meet my goal. Or I don’t. Now, you may be thinking that I haven’t looked at a calendar. That I’m unaware that there are only about 6 weeks left to the year. But that’s not the case. I think with enough graphic novels and shorter books, and a day or two dedicated to reading, I could make my goal. The question is whether I care enough. What does this goal actually mean to me? Why do I feel like I need to reach it? It’s literally just a number! Honestly, even if I keep my goal, the more likely outcome is that I fail at my challenge. But I kind of like that idea.

That may sound shocking. After all, who likes failing! But I think it might be the only way to truly get my brain to realize that reading 100 books in a year just isn’t likely anymore. I haven’t done it in two years. I blamed it on college, but working seems to keep me just as busy, if not busier. So maybe letting myself fail will force me to be more gentle on myself next year. Maybe I need to teach myself a lesson.

As you can see, I’m a bit conflicted about what to do. But this is exactly why I love discussion posts. Because I want to hear your thoughts. What are your thoughts on reading challenges? What would you do in my situation? And as a fun little game, what do you think I should do?

You see this discussion was partially a ruse. I don’t want to make a decision. I want you to make one for me! So vote in the comments! Do I lower my reading challenge? Do I keep it? If I keep it, do I push myself to read more, or just let myself fail? I’ll let you all know what the consensus is in my November Wrap Up in the first week of December!

Do you set reading goals for yourself? If so, how are you doing in your reading challenge? What do you think I should do with my reading challenge?

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22 thoughts on “Lowering My Yearly Reading Challenge

  1. I am personally a big proponent of moving your goals if you need to! Especially since you did not really know what the year would have in store for you. However, I do get the appeal of sticking with your current challenge, just don’t break yourself trying to meet it!

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    1. I definitely hear that. I’ve definitely moved some goals around in the past, so I’m not quite sure why I’m doubting that method this year when I have so many legitimate reasons for not being able to keep up to my expectations at the beginning of the year!

      And I will definitely keep that in mind. Thankfully, I’m a mood reader, so my brain will actively stop me from reading more than I can manage. So if I end up keeping my goal, I might push myself to read more and make some more time to read, but I definitely won’t force myself to read if I’m not feeling it, just to complete a challenge!

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  2. Great post! I’m most excited every year when my Goodreads Challenge restarts and I get to set a goal for myself. I surpassed it already this year and though I usually add more books so I have a goal to work toward until the year ends, I didn’t this year cos I’m tired, I’ve already reached my goal and I don’t “need” to do more. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to read a certain amount to… prove that we’re voracious readers? Dedicated bookworms? I don’t know, but I don’t think we have anything to prove to anyone and as long as we enjoy ourselves and what we read then it doesn’t matter whether you read 5 or 500 books, IMHO. So I guess all that’s to say: I would keep your goal as is and I hope whether you reach it or not, you enjoy all your reads for the rest of the year! 😊

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    1. Thank you! Yes! Setting a goal each year is lots of fun, but sometimes at the beginning of the year my schedule and reading capabilities are in a very different place from later in the year!

      Congrats on already hitting your goal! I totally understand not wanting to raise your goal so that you can just read at whatever pace you’d like without any pressure. And that’s interesting, because I think for me, at least currently, I’m using my goal more for consistency than to prove anything.

      I like reading 4-6 books a month, because I can’t really accomplish that without reading throughout the month. But if I were to make a page goal or a weekly goal, that would actually be a pressure, because certain weeks can be busier than others. So a more monthly/yearly approach allows me to see at what pace I’m reading on a timeline that allows for fluctuation. When I read 1 book in August, I knew I wasn’t reading consistently, but when I read 4 books last month, I knew I was back into a reading groove, even if there was a week or two in which I probably only read 20 pages in total.

      But to your point, having a super large goal that is way bigger than 4-6 books a month might be a pressure. That kind of makes me think I should lower it? Or, like you suggested, I can keep my goal as is, and use it to motivate that consistency, and then choose a better goal for 2023 in just a month or so!

      And you’re so right! The most important factor really should be whether I enjoy what I’m reading for the remainder of the year. I truly hope I’m able to find some new favorites in these last few weeks of the year!

      Thank you so much for giving your input!

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  3. I would keep your goal as it is. It was a challenge for you and nobody else. Challenges aren’t always met ( I don’t think I’m going to get my non fiction challenge) but that’s fine. Read what you want and enjoy it.

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    1. That’s a very good point. There’s something fun about completing a challenge, but it’s important to be okay with not completing challenges if that ends up being the outcome.

      I’ll definitely be reading what I want, and I hope I will enjoy it!

      Thank you so much for your input!

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  4. YES, YES, a resounding YES lower your goal. Reading isn’t a competitive sport, we do it for pleasure. A reading goal isn’t written in stone (as we say), so you should be proud of the number of books you read, even if it is only one in a whole year!

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    1. I appreciate you presenting your opinion so strongly! I definitely know which option you’re voting for me to choose!

      I agree that I read for pleasure, but I actually do enjoy an element of change, although I would never want it to start being a competition to keep up with or read more than someone else!

      But that’s a very good point. I have the ability to change my goal at any point, and since I have that option, if my current goal isn’t working for me, it makes sense to change it.

      I’m definitely proud of what I’ve read so far this year regardless. This year has been full of changes and unknowns, and the fact that I continued to keep reading despite all that really does feel like a major accomplishment!

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  5. I’m in a similar situation with a goal of 100 books. I’m 22 behind and know I won’t make it. Personally, I’m going to keep it because I always knew it was a stretch and I want to look back and remember the challenges I set in previous years so I can adjust them.

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    1. Yeah, I’m definitely not making my goal of 100 books, even if I did read as many graphic novels as I could. I’d hit a slump at some point, and even if I didn’t, I still don’t think 35 days is enough time for me to read 33 more books, regardless of format.

      I think for me, the fact that I didn’t realize it was a stretch at the beginning of the year is what’s frustrating me. I guess I kept deluding myself into thinking the goal remained manageable up until writing this post and facing the facts.

      But I think you’re right. Keeping the goal as a reminder to set my goals to a level that will work for me regardless of the things life throws at us is important for me to keep in mind in the future! One thing is for certain though. Regardless of how I handle my 2022 goal, my 2023 goal will definitely be lower than 100 books!

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  6. As someone who, nine times out of ten, lowers their Goodreads Reading Challenge goal on December 31st, I’m all for going what works best for you!

    I also always set my goal at 100 books a year because I know that’s roughly how much I can read. I like having the goal in place because it helps me visualize how much I’m reading compared to previous years, and when I get too far away from it, it’s usually a sign that my workaholic tendencies are taking over and I should take a break to read more 😅

    But I also don’t fret about actually reaching that goal. Putting pressure on myself to do that would stop me from reading the books I actually want to – you know, like those 1,000 page fantasy tomes or foreign language books that take me forever to get through – in favor of shorter novels I’m not really that interested in… So I always set that 100 as a benchmark, but lower it to something I’ve actually reached on the last day of the year so that I won’t have to face my failure 🤣 Which I’ll probably do this year, too. I’ve currently read 77 books and don’t think I’m going to realistically get to 100 without forcing myself to read when I’m not feeling it or don’t really have the time to…

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    1. Okay, but like, I absolutely love this method. It feels like the ultimate power move. I love how that keeps the goal you set as a way to see how your reading stacks up relative to other years, rather than using it to push yourself to reach the goal! You’re just using it to take stock of things, and to adjust your reading accordingly!

      But the most brilliant part of this method to me is how you change it on the very last day of the year. Because at that point you no longer need it as a metric and comparative tool, so you can set it to reflect the true goal of this challenge, which is to read as much as you can given the circumstances. And on the very last day of the year, you’ve done that. Whatever number you’ve read thus far reflects how much you managed to read despite whatever came up throughout the year!

      Honestly, I’m pretty sure this is what I’ll end up deciding to do. Not change my goal, but lower it on the very last day of the year. Then set a more reasonable goal for 2023, that I can use as a more manageable reference point for future years, since I no longer have the time or energy to keep up with 100 books a year.

      Thank you so much for sharing your method with me! I hope it’s okay if I start using it as well!

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      1. Of course! Feel free to join in! 💙 Also, I love your arguments for this method being brilliant rather than just a lazy way of avoiding failure 🤣 I’ll have to remember them next time someone accuses me of doing the challenge wrong!

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  7. Ah this is such an interesting discussion! Honestly, personally, I’m all for lowering your goodreads challenge, because I just hate putting more pressure on myself than necessary. I already do it way too much and don’t want reading to become an additional source of stress. I lowered my goodreads challenge… a couple of years ago, when I realized I couldn’t make it and it made me feel way less stressed. It’s just an arbitrary number, you’re so right, and it shouldn’t affect us so much, but for me… well, it does, so I’d rather keep the stress away and lower my goal ahahha 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Marie!

      That’s what I’ve done in the past, so I don’t know what was holding me back from just lowering my challenge this year. I guess because I didn’t feel the pressure either way? So it then just became a fun discussion topic. The second I feel stress though, my goal will be lowered in an instant!

      And I already know that next year my challenge will definitely be a lot more reasonable, so that I start the year with the right expectations about what my reading capabilities are with so much else going on. That way I hopefully won’t have to lower it in the months that follow!

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  8. Oh man this is a hard one! So, I find the Goodreads Challenge to be absurdly stressful, I have no idea why, but it is. However, like you, I couldn’t decide what to do, and didn’t really like any of the options. Every year, I had been setting my goal for one book more than the prior year. Which was fine… until I was suddenly working full time and raising two kids alone. But like you, I was not about the lowering numbers life, but I also couldn’t bring myself to fail? So, after powering through the final year, I decided to let fate decide. I went to random . org, and entered 1-the one more than the number of books I had read the year prior. And it picked a middle ground for me! I have been doing it ever since. I think one year I got like 9 books bwahha, that was fun! This year, I got 103, which was a little rude but doable for me. So, maybe come up with some ridiculous solution like that? Won’t help for this year, but going forward!

    Now. Part of me HATES to tell you to lower the goal because that feels cheap. HOWEVER, I also don’t know if you could stand having that ONE BANNER on the Challenge page not say “completed”? If you CAN stand it, then I say fail proudly! If not, then… well I kind of dig the “read 40 tiny things” plan tbh. Like- grab you a stack of those Easy Reader Level 1 books, you’ll be done by dinner!

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    1. I think most years I give the Goodreads Challenge a lot more of my energy and just care about achieving that goal way too much. In 2022, I think I just stopped caring about it as much?

      I love your truly random way of setting your goal, but could never do something like that for myself, because I need at least some modicum of control over which number gets chosen. Plus I need the number to end in either 0 or 5, because my brain will be happiest that way. So I think for 2023 I’ll be lowering my goal for sure, but I won’t be leaving up to chance!

      And apparently my mental fortitude is stronger than I realized, because I just never ended up lowering my goal in 2022. I officially failed. I may end up retroactively changing my 2022 Goodreads Challenge, if that’s an option, but honestly, I don’t even know if I care enough at this point. Like, I read 61 books, and I’m happy I managed to read that many books in such a wild year filled with so many changes. So I guess I ended up failing proudly in the end!

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  9. I’m very very late, but it looks like you decided to keep your goal as is, and I did the same thing! My goal is 75 and I’m only at 62, and there’s no way I’m going to read 13 books in the next 10 days, but I’m leaving it. If it really really bothers you/stresses you out, I say switch it. Otherwise, pick up like a short story collection or a bunch of graphic novels and go wild on Christmas break (which please confirm you have??).
    Also don’t be down on yourself about it — the first year of work is absolutely brutal.

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    1. Yup! I kept it! Mostly because I was planning on changing it at the very last minute on December 31st, and then just forgot. And now I just don’t really care. I read 61 books, and I’m proud of myself for that. This year I know not to reach for 100 books, so I’ll be able to set a more realistic goal!

      OR! Maybe I’ll set my goal to 100 and just read all those graphic novels in 2023! Who knows!

      (Also, it has already passed, but I did have a day off for Christmas and barely read a thing. So that wasn’t very helpful.)

      And the first year of work is definitely something! I think that’s why I’m not really phased by the fact that I didn’t meet my goal. I read as much as I could given the circumstances, and I’m proud of that!

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