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Unpopular Opinion: Finish Books You Don’t Like. Here's Why.

Life is too short to read books you don’t like.

Look, I get it.

Our time on Earth is limited. And we should “hold every hour in [our] grasp,” as Seneca said.

So, why should we waste our time and energy reading books we don’t even like?

Well, here’s why.

The People Who Succeed All Have This Trait

A whopping 92% of people who set New Year’s resolutions never achieve them. This means only 8% ever reach their goals.

So, what sets apart the people who don’t attain their goals and the ones who do?

Well, there are a lot of reasons. For example, people who succeed:

  • Find mentors, coaches, and advisors for guidance.

  • Can clearly define what success looks like to them.

  • Spend time with people who have similar goals and values.

  • Etc.

People who succeed also have more perseverance. They have the capacity to stick to a task in spite of challenges like unenjoyment.

In a nutshell, you need perseverance to accomplish your goals.

Now, you might be wondering…

Okay, great. But what does this have to do with finishing a book I don’t like?

Well, here’s my view.

An easy way to build the habit of perseverance is by simply finishing the books you start. Even if you don’t like it.

Because as the popular saying goes...

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

If you can’t even commit to reading and finishing a book because you don’t like it…

How can you expect to commit to and persist in the face of challenges and limitations for bigger goals?

For example, as an online writer, can you:

  • Persevere through a boring tutorial on how to set up a Wix website?

  • Persevere through the tedious task of setting up an email sequence in ConvertKit?

  • Persevere through the frustration of learning how to start a newsletter on Substack?

Here’s the reality.

You can’t escape tasks you don’t like. (Unless you’re capable of outsourcing them.)

You can do your best to fill your professional and personal life with only engaging activities…

But there are many mundane (and important) tasks you’ll need to do to improve your career and life.

So, I believe quitting a bad book builds an awful habit.

And this habit may seep into other areas of your life.

  • Don’t like learning German anymore? You quit.

  • Don’t like playing the piano anymore? You quit.

  • Don’t like filming and editing anymore? You quit.

If you want to form the habit of sticking it out even when circumstances aren’t favourable, then finish the books you don’t like.

But the reality is, we don’t live in a black-and-white world.

Now, with this being said, I do believe knowing why you want to quit and when to quit is equally as important as knowing when to stick it out.

But that’s for you to figure out.

It’s up to you to discern whether you’re quitting something because:

A. You don’t like it anymore. You’re feeling bored, lazy, or unmotivated. Insert x excuse here.


B. It’s the right move to make. As Steven Bartlett said (Can you tell I’m a huge fan?):

“Knowing when to quit, change direction, leave a toxic situation, demand more from life, give up on something that isn’t working and move on, is a very important skill that people who win at life all seem to have.”

Because while there are many benefits of persevering like developing new strengths, skills and other qualities, there are also a few downsides such as:

  • Ignoring better alternatives

  • Wasting valuable time and energy

  • Persisting even when you have nothing to gain

So, how do you figure out whether to stick it out or quit?

Through self-reflection. It comes down to being brutally honest with yourself about your intentions for your behaviour.

Ask yourself, Why?

  • Why do I want to quit this job? Is it because I don’t want to work so hard or because there are no opportunities to move up the ladder?

  • Why do I want to move to this country? Is it because I want to run from my problems or because I’m excited to learn about a different culture?

  • Why do I want to leave this relationship? Is it because I’m not willing to put in the work to resolve our problem or because we’ve tried everything and there’s no improvement?

For self-reflection to truly work, though, you can’t lie when you’re answering these questions.

Because the thing is, lying to yourself in the moment to preserve your ego may feel good temporarily…

But in the long run, your inner voice and intuition will only get louder and louder as it tries to guide you through life.

Wrapping Things Up

I believe you should finish the books you start, even the ones you don’t like because it’ll help you build the habit of perseverance.

You’ll learn to persist in the face of challenges and limitations.

And this perseverance will translate to success in all other areas of your life.


Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

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