Can I Read A Book?

People often set independent, home-study educational goals for themselves and then, before long, bail out on the goal. Many career opportunities are only available to those who are willing to take the initiative to read and learn on their own. What can be done to help people to take advantage of the employment opportunities that come from books?

For example, consider the case of reading a book which teaches something useful about computers. This is a book which will, as you read it, add to your marketable job-skills and useful life-skills. No matter what level someone is currently at in their knowledge of computers, they can certainly find a book that will teach them something useful – and a book that will meet them where they are at. The goal is do-able, worthwhile and profitable. So why do people tend to start and then give up?

Can I Read A Book 4

10 x 30 = 300

The simplest explanation is that most people just lack the self-discipline to consistently keep on keeping on with the worthwhile goals that they set for themselves. For example, lets suppose that a book is 300 pages long – and it is written at a level that the reader is currently capable of digesting. Then, (you would think) he should be able to read a few pages every day (lets say 10 – that should be easy enough if he is not working), and then finish the whole thing in 30 days.

This is obviously a great idea on so many levels. So why is it so rarely done?

There are no books

Maybe some people don’t read educational books because they don’t have access to them. That is probably a valid excuse in some parts of the world, but, for the vast majority of Americans there is a library or bookstore that is reasonably nearby. So what’s the next excuse?

Too Hard Or Too Easy 3 (1)The books are too hard – or too easy

Sometimes people say: “I tried to read a book, but it was too hard for me to understand it.” Okay, so the obvious answer is that you need to find a more basic level book, right? Go back to the library. A slight variation on this idea is to say: “that book was too easy for me.” Same answer. What’s the next excuse?

I’m not really that interested in it

Maybe its just not that important? Okay, no problem. So, how did we get started talking about this topic, by the way? Lets back up for a minute.

In life, for adults, you are either independently wealthy, or a ward of the state, or you kind of have to find a way to provide for your own needs. Most people solve that problem by getting a job. Chances are, that that is where you are at. But the thing is that, generally speaking, the pay is commensurate with experience and education. So, do you want the job that pays very little or a lot? If you want to earn more, then you need to learn more.

Of course there are all kinds of exceptions, like “its not what you know, its who you know.” Those things are true (sometimes) – but it is the exception that proves the rule. For your average person, the most basic rule is: “a better education equals a better career opportunity.”

So, of course, you don’t have to be interested in reading books. But, on the other hand, your prospective employer does not have to be interested in giving you the good job, either. All else being equal, employers prefer people who have more useful knowledge over people who have less.

Unusual mental illness?

Another possibility is that our would-be book-reader has some unusual mental illness that causes him to be unable to read or think. But what is the likelihood of that? Imagine, for a moment, if you will, a group of 100 people, each of whom is able to read well enough that they could slog through this article up to this point. But each of these 100 people then says to themselves: “Hey! Yes! That’s me! I have a unusual psychiatric illness that makes me unable to read or think!” Now, ask yourself this question: How many of those people do you suppose are actually psychiatrically sick – and how many are just professional excuse makers? (Remember, each of the 100 were able to read up to this point.)

In any case, if you think that you might have an illness, then, by all means, please visit your doctor or psychiatrist. But if you think that part of your problem might also be that you have a mind-based habit of low self-exertion, then please consider taking advantage of the free help that is available through Get Help Get Active.

CIRAB Dice 2

I tend to be unlucky

It may be that you will end up dying without ever becoming self-supporting. It may be that, even though you faithfully work to improve your marketability, and you faithfully read a few pages every day in a book that will help you to find and carry out a job, and you consistently look for work – still, it may be that you will just be very unlucky and you will end up destitute and unemployed forever. But how likely is that? Lets examine two different scenarios:

Here I am on my death bed …

Lets imagine that you really are kind of unlucky. Eventually, you will find yourself at the end of your life, poor, broke and unemployed. Then, would you prefer to be able to look back over your life and say this:

End Of Life Scenario #1 – “Well, at least I gave it a shot. I always read ten pages every day in a book that helped me to learn more about my career field. In the last twenty years I must have read upwards of about 250 technical books – each of which helped me to improve my job skills. Come to think of it, I guess it is kind of weird that I was never able to find any work …”

Or would you rather look back and say this:

End Of Life Scenario #2 – “I knew it really wasn’t going to work anyway, and that I would always and forever be unemployed – so I’m glad that I didn’t waste any time reading books. I am glad that I spent my time doing things that I enjoyed (like TV and video games.) I am also glad that I spent some time grieving over my failure and loss in life (which I always knew would be my unavoidable destiny.) As a matter of fact, I once saw a show that said that grieving is an important part of the process when a person is dying. Well, I’ve done a lot of grieving, so I guess I’m ready to die now …”

So which outcome would you prefer to have? There is an old saying that “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Almost everybody gets a lucky break at some point in their life. Can self-education put a person into a better spot to be able to take advantage of an opportunity when it comes their way?

While there is life, there is hope

Have you decided that you want to use your ability to read in order to teach yourself useful career skills? A lot of people are able to make a decision to start learning and then, on their own, they can consistently carry through with their decision. If that is where you are “at”, then good for you.

But what if you find that you are having trouble in sticking with your own reasonable, self-educational goals? Are you struggling to stay on track? If so, then please consider taking advantage of the free and confidential help that is available. Get help and get active!

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37 Responses to Can I Read A Book?

  1. Ideas says:

    That was good. Very true about having a tough time reading books.
    I think that for me it has to do with perfectionism too. In any case though u make a very valid point about how education (including self-education) really does (over time) have a measurable effect on what kind of job u can get

  2. MVNJ says:

    The article is good. There are other situations that could be included in the area discussing psychiatric illnesses – I think broadening the spectrum from just psychiatric to a topic of disabled people instead. Like dyslexia – it is hard for people with dyslexia to learn how to read, right? It was not offensive to me to read about the section talking about psychiatric illnesses – but I just thought that you could expand that area to include other disabilities, too.

    I can read fairly well – I haven’t read a book in 5 or 6 years – I used to read the Bible, but I dont read it any more. I think it would be an intelligent thing (to read books) – you have to know what you want to do first – before you even start reading – or you can read a broad base of books to find out what you are interested in – what you have a talent for.

    The other thing that I was thinking to is about the availability of books. There are people who are in hospital situations who would find it very difficult to find books like you are talking about – technical books and college level books – because the choice just isnt there – they would offer novels or magazines instead in the institution most likely.

    I am currently in a partial hospitalization program for psychiatric illness – they have a fairly large library – but 99% of the books are basically novels, autobiographies general literature that really dont have any instructional nature to them. I have looked them over – I know most of the stories. There are only so many different story lines that you can have – it doesnt really interest me to read them.

    There are people (at my day program) who read instead of taking a cigarrete break between meetings in the program. But even they are reading the novels/general literature type things.

    I have been considering reading something myself. Whether it be a novel or not – I haven’t really thought about the idea of reading something instructional – but I have been thinking about filling some of my time with a book. Thats where I am with the reading. I have a friend who has about 1,000 books – so, all I would have to do is to ask him to let me borrow one. I read “War and Peace” last time – it was a big book and it took a long time to read it. I felt like I understood the book pretty well.

    I think (from time to time) about finding a job – I will be finding a job soon when I graduate from the program. But I am not the one who decides when I graduate. They want me to look into going to school after I finish the program – to help me to have better skills to find work. I have a few ideas of things that I feel I would be capable of doing as work. My goal for the type of job that I would like is something that has to do with mathematics – like engineering or teaching math to high school kids or something like that.

    The reason that finding a job is not a priority right now is becuase all of my effort is going into maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping my surroundings clean and organinzed and going to the day program right now. And that, right there, chimes in at about 9 to 10 hours a day of productivity. The only thing is that I dont get paid for it. I am starting to build my self-esteem a bit, and I am learning new social skills – I dont get money for what I am doing. I live off of my disability check.

    The “hive” wants me at the partial hospitalization day program right now. The first thing that you learn there is taht, if you dont show up, then they are going to send the cops to your house. The people that are in the program are people who are freshly out of psychiatric hospitals in the area. They are changing the way that they deal with discharging patients with mental illness now. Actually, by not having a choice – in that I have to show up or I risk being re-hospitalized – you are almost forced to get healthy or to flounder. Even the way they treat people who have drug and alchohol problems is changing, too. The day program does random piss tests – and if you fail it twice then you get shipped out to a more rigorous program – it sounds cruel – but I think that it is actually kind of good thing to force people (like me) to more disciplined about not using illegal drugs like marijuana, etc – which could cause relapse into pyschiatric illness.

    • adpal says:

      In your last paragraph you said that “it sounds cruel” in regards to the fact that the people who run your day program do random urine tests to check clients for illegal drugs. That seems like a kind of odd way to look at it. I would think that, if someone has been hospitalized for mental illness, then it would make sense that, as a part of their follow-up treatment, that they would be expected to abstain from illegal drugs. I am not sure of the actual numbers, but I think that psychiatric hospitalizations typically cost the “hive” a lot of money. So, doesn’t the hive have a vested interest in seeing to it that discharged patients take the necessary steps to avoid having to return to the hospital? Again, I am not sure of the actual numbers, but I think that there is a high correlation between using illegal drugs and repeat psychiatric hospitalizations …

  3. MVNJ says:

    I havent decided to set the time aside to read an instructional book. I think that reading is a choice it is not a responsibility – unless you are still in elementary schools, grammar school or high school – college students certainly have the responsibility to read books. /// What is your responsibility to the “hive?” /// It is to continue to be consistent with the lifestyle that I am developing at the day program. /// They don’t give out disability payments to people who are capable of working. Going to the program on a consistent basis consumes my whole responsibility to the hive. I am not causing problems. I abstain from drugs and alcohol. I am learning to be social. It is going to be a while that I am going to be there. Don’t get me wrong – I am not trying to say that I will never be able to “recover” from a mental illness – and get the skills that I need to get a P/T job or to study to improve my skills. Its just that I have to gradually move from where I am to where I should be.

    Two years ago, when I was first was introduced to PAL, the mental illness and the medicine that I was taking were still going on – and plus I was using drugs and alcohol on the side – in that regard (about the drugs and alcohol) that that was kind of a self-induced laziness. So in that sense yes, definitely, laziness was affecting me back in those days. It is hard for me to look back in my own life and point to specific instances and say “yes, laziness was the cause of the trouble” – because, at the time, there were so many other factors going on. I did admit that I was lazy – and I was sincere at the time – but it was only one factor in the “soup.”

    Now-a-days I do not feel like laziness is a factor in my life. I do not forsee that laziness will re-emerge in my life. Many times, in the past, the medicine itself was a hindering factor in my life. Now-a-days I am trying to get a balance in life – and not being an overachiever.

    Here is an example of my current laziness – I tend to procrastinate on cleaning my dishes and doing my laundry.

  4. perception vs reality says:

    Here is an exxample – suppose u r going to an interview tommorow for a job as a plumbers helper … Then for today u have free time. So does it make sense to go to the library to get a book about basic plumbing ideas so u can brush up on the terminology used by plumbers? To me the answer is obviously yes. One possible objection might b to say that it is better not to read the book bcz the prospective employer might get concerned that I m trying to take his job – in other words it might b better to get the plumbers helper job if I did not actually know anything about plumbing? My answer to that scenario is: yes, maybe that could happen but it is not likely. It is more likely that the plumber would b impressed by the fact that I m showing an interest in the field (so long as I don’t start acting like a know-it-all.)

    • Door Number 3 says:

      That was funny when u said that u might b in a better spot to get the plumbers helpers job if u didn’t know anything about plumbing! If that is true then we could use the same logic to never read anything of an instructional nature … Which coincidentally would exactly match the “goals” of the laziness motives – to do no mind-based work!

  5. Instinctual Drives says:

    Change to Here is the first scenario. Here is the second scenario. Well those r the two scenarios. Which one sounds better to u?

  6. Instinctual Drives says:

    Reasonable Self-Exertion – an article to introduce the work ideal. Low medium high – goldilocks and the three bears.

  7. Nine says:

    Book titled Useful Career Help – ten volumes – basic this, basic that, basic the other
    Versus: romance novel, horror novel, Action videos, Useless Distractions For Bums – volumes 1 to ten. The fun and interesting section versus the boring and difficult section

    • Nine says:

      Can a good motive and a bad motive sometimes work simultaneously to the same objective?

      Bad Motive: I m lazy with with low frustration tolerance so I avoid looking for kind of job. Good Motive: I want to avoid participation in a corrupt system so I refuse to work for any business that acts in an unethical or unsustainable or non- vegan way. (which is most but certainly not all businesses.) (For farmer friend.)

      • Nine says:

        We can usually find some way in which someone is doing something wrong if we look close enough. Question: how about applying for a job working for an Amish farmer or Amish builder?

  8. Reader says:

    With kids then, yes, obviously we would encourage then to read their school books every day. And our explanation for that encouragement is that, by a lifetime of learning, the kids will be in a better spot to compete for the good jobs. So why doesn’t that also apply with adults? Does the benefit of education stop when you are 18 and school ends?

    Parents who value education transmit their willingness to self-educate to their kids. Parents who do not value education transmit their un-willingness to self-educate to their kids. So where do you want to be on that spectrum?

    • Reader says:

      Self disgust is not the right response as we look back over our failures with self discipline. The right response is to recognize that there is a disease-like cycle going on in – it is the cycle of sloth and laziness and inactivity (or non-productivity.) What sort of treatment can help with this kind of disease cycle?


    • Meds says:

      That is so 100% true!!!

  9. Dishwasher says:

    Knowledge and Anti-Knowledge.

    People really *are* learning things all the time – but it is generally career-useless stuff. Most folks could tell you all kinds of trivia about tv shows or politics or game shows. But if u ask them how to solve a real-world problem like “Why doesn’t my car want to start? What can I do to fix it?”, then they look at you and say “I dont know … U need to call the garage … I hope you have $500 laying around to pay the bill.”

    But if you ask them a question about episode 5 from season 3 of their favorite show then they could talk to you about it for hours …

  10. tbear says:

    there are so many different jobs that can be done with just simply reading a booki myself dont really enjoy reading but know that it can help out so much

  11. Wisdom seeker says:

    I believe that the reason why people don’t read books to improve their life. Is because they are not thinking about the long term success of their life. They are only thinking about what is going on now as far as work or a career goes. Another factor that could be considered for some is a built in system in their mind in which they would rather settle for instant gratification. I believe that that stems from a spiritual malady. Which in simple terms means that they have what I like to call a “a hole in the soul”. In which they try to fill their self on the inside with material objects from the outside. And I personally have a habit of doing that. Therefore it causes me to settle for what I can get my hands on now. Instead of concentrating on a more successful future. And in turn it causes me to not want to read books.

  12. Flowchart says:

    A Well Deserved Vacation – yes but do I sometimes turn it into a lifestyle? How long should my vacation be? BTW, Whenever you read words like “should” (here) it means what *you* think it should mean.

  13. Review says:

    Learning has a component of maintaining the knowledge or not. That requires on-going review. Personally I have many times learned things and then forgotten them bcz I did not review. Now imagine if u could hire someone to work for u on a long term contract (like ten or twenty years.). Then it would probably make sense to include long-term learning and reviewing. So u wld pay your worker to do the boring task of reviewing to keep knowledge fresh. (But in general, isn’t work *supposed* to be boring? If it were not boring then would’nt we call it play instead of work?)

    • Review says:

      So my point is that there is irony in that I would tell my long-term employee to learn and keep reviewing as part of their job duties – but for myself (I m my own longest-term employee), I tend to slack off on the reviewing things stage of learning. And the reason that I slack off (as nearly as I can tell) is my own mbh-LSE (Aka laziness.)

  14. Review says:

    Here’s an ironic idea – we are walking down the street talking about reaching rse. Meanwhile all around the world there are millions of ppl who are actually *living* their rse dream right now – whether in studying or working or looking for work.

  15. Review says:

    Knowledge and anti-knowledge – meets FAE vs BAD (fun and easy vs boring and difficult). If a book is FAE or just interesting then that may be a hint that it is closer to anti-knowledge (in terms of it’s utility in helping me to reach the point of becoming self-supporting.). Of coursethere do existcareer paths and studypaths that are interesting – but most of them seem to also have a large initial component of up front non-fun self-discipline in learning that is needed before you get to the exothermic or self-perpetuating without the need for self-discipline phase of the educational dynamic.

  16. Review says:

    Learning And Anorexia or A Hunger For Knowledge – or intellectual anorexia. When a person has a hunger for knowledge then they do not need to exercise self-control in order to keep up with their studies – since the desire to study just comes naturally. But when someone does not have a hunger for learning then that is kind of a strange situation. It reminds me of anorexia. So normal RSE learning is like a healthy diet – and over-eating is like a workaholic study-er.

    • Review says:

      Children are that way btw – they have a natural hunger for learning – but it seems like it is lost (for most folks) as they grow up – just like we tend to loose the youthful playfulness as we age – and it is not healthy.

      • Review says:

        Greed And Sloth As Sins Of Ommission

        You told me that you were “well read.” But u r currently in pain of poverty. At this point which is more important – whether u r well read or whether you can use yr kn to exchange energy with an employer? Do there exist non-well-read folks who have only read 2 or 3 or 5 books that taught them their career and that have good jobs now?

        Also u Said u r not ashamed of your poverty. Are you ashamed of your sloth? Should a person b ashamed ever of anything? Should a person ever be ashamed of their sloth? If u had not been so slothful then u could have used your energies to provide food for the truly needed.

        Is there much difference between a person who withholds help to the needy due to his own greed and the person who withholds help from the needy due to his own sloth?

        They r both sins of omission. That is a good general question – could b an article. Greed And Sloth.

  17. Review says:

    Virtue, Vice, Wealth & Poverty

    Generally speaking do the rich become rich by their virtue or by their vice? And do the poor become poor by their virtue or by their vice? Unfair manipulation of the system? This article won’t answer the question but you could present both sides of the argument. It really just matters what you yourself think. Is poverty noble? Are we justified to despise the wealthy corporations for their wealth? Maybe the answer is a little bit of both.

    The important take-home for a person who is suffering from MBH-LSE is that there exists a very dangerous trap of rationalizing that the rich are rich primarily due to their unfair manipulation of the system, and that the poor are poor primarily due to their virtue. Hence for me (as a poor person) to try to improve my lot by following the lead of the rich to educated myself in useful fields, then I would be caving in to vice and abandoning virtue. This may sound absurd – and it is – but it probably does direct the thinking of many people who stay locked in the cycle of poverty!

    • Review says:

      In the ghetto – kids who study hard and do well in school are acused is “acting white” – link

    • Review says:

      Specifically mbh-LSE is a form of vice that leads to poverty. But if you view poverty as synonymous or identical with virtue than you are off the hook in terms of needing to do the long term work to get out of poverty. But avoiding doing the “long term work to get out of poverty” is exactly the normal “goal” of the mbh-LSE mindset! So you stay locked in poverty and you feel like you are doing the virtuous thing when in reality you are just deceiving yourself and giving in to your vice – which is your mbh-LSE!

  18. MSM says:

    Work therapy. The Value Of Structure

    We expect a job to pay the worker – but perhaps in some cases the worker might want to pay the employer! That’s because there is a big mental health benefit that comes from structure. In mental hospitals they fill the patients day with predictable activities – group therapy, art therapy, and woodshop therapy. Here – build a bird house and you’ll feel better about yourself.

    So my point is that maybe it’s a good idea to have a job – any old job – just bcz it gives you structure. This is especially true for a person who has a history of “idle hands are the Devil’s playground.” But a person who thinks too highly of himself may choose to turn down a job unless it paid more money and was sufficiently respectable.

  19. NHS says:

    Reasons Versus Excuses – Ben Franklin quote – is it true for other ppl? Is it true for me? 6 to 1 per BF. “It’s common for Men to give 6 pretended Reasons instead of one real one.”

  20. NHS says:

    The Opportunity Industry Versus The Excuse Industry

    Both of these are continuously rolling out new products. They battle for the hearts and minds of people. A War Of Perception. And there are players on either end that benefit as they swing ppl to their side. The most insidious part is that they have got it so much down to a science that all you have to do is to listen to it – and you will come to believe that they are telling the truth! (Applies to both sides.)

    The important point is to recognize that there are financial incentives (to the manufacturers) to be had on both sides. So when you believe what they are putting out, then they make $$$!

    The act of “believing” is the act of purchasing in this case!

  21. PAL says:

    BTW, I published this article 2 years ago. Since that time, have I read 10 pages from a technical book every day? Good question. I haven’t kept very good track of my reading progress. Certainly, though, on many, many days I have significantly under-performed. 🙁

    And this immediately suggests a plan to help me to stay on track for going forward, i.e., I need to start keeping track of my daily reading progress. I have done that on occasion – and it has helped.

  22. If your friends are reading books and learning things then it becomes much easier for you yourself to also want to read books and learn things. The opposite is also true. Hence, it is vital that we surround ourselves with friends who are moving in a good direction. So what have I been learning recently? What have I learned in the last 24 hours? What is my learning plan for the next 24 hours?

  23. PAL says:

    What is Total Work?

    Total Work (TW) is a way of looking at all of the effort that a person puts into their career over the full span of their working years. At first glance, you might say that, the way to figure out what TW is, is to just add up the total number of hours that a person has worked on the job over the course of their full career.

    But that would leave out the total number of hours which they spent in several other very important areas. What about the time spent in school, and time spent studying and time spent looking for jobs? Isn’t that also work? Of course it is work.

    And this explains why so many people have the perception that “the hardest jobs are the jobs which pay the least amount of money.” People believe that that is true because they are excluding school, studying and job-seeking from their perception of TW.

  24. PAL says:

    In Defense of Reasonable Self-Exertion Slavery

    People do really want to work – but they often don’t want to think. This is particularly true when the thinking involves making a statistically informed investment in time and energy. And that “statistically informed investment in time and energy” is another way of looking at the time and effort that goes into career education and job seeking. Hence, as a result there is a large swath of people who remain forever unemployed or under-employed.

    So why not allow people to purchase a treatment for their handicap? In this case, the handicap is: “I don’t like to think”. The treatment would be a contract of Reasonable Self-Exertion Slavery, where the contracting company would be legally required to take good care of the client slave. So the potential for abuse would be very low. Simultaneously, the potential for success would be very high – because the company can see the potential in you that you cannot believe that you can see in yourself.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Factory Work Versus Personal Self-Development Work

    Imagine if factory work (transferable exertion (TE) with a transferable product(TP)) was similar to self-development work (non-transferable exertion NTE) with a non-transferable (NTP) product). Wouldn’t that be nuts?

    For example, when someone suffers from adversarial manager dependence (AMD), then they will find themselves unable to stick with NTE long enough to build the desired NTP. Of course, if they wanted to, they could always find a free manager to urge them on, but the point is that, because of their AMD, they don’t want management, so nothing gets done. But eventually the free, well-meaning would-be managers just give up in disgust and focus their energies elsewhere and forget about the AMD looser. So, in one sense, there is no observable friction, because there is no interaction between the manager and the AMD person.

    Alternatively, of course, in a factory setting, a manger can hound his SMD employee just a little bit and it will keep him on track with his work. Then, in the end, everybody wins.

    But suppose that, in the factory setting, the employees had the option of interacting with the manager versus ignoring the manager (as is the case of a MD person who struggles with developing themselves via NTE). Then what would overwhelmingly likely happen?

    Of course, in a very short time, the inmates would be running the asylum. NO-ONE would be asking for help from a manager to help them to stay on track with their work duties. And if anyone did ask for help, they would be hounded by the ones who did not ask for help to encourage them to just cool it and be lazy like everyone else. Of course, the factory would quickly go out of business because there would be no production.

    Thus we see the critical nature of management. It is absolutely necessary in order to help to keep things on track. But for independent self-development, unfortunately, there is no legal mechanism available to keep people moving forward. Hence, it comes to a dead stop.

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