Marek Kalnik's blog

I cheated on my yearly Goodreads goal

February 06, 2022

End of November it became clear to me - I wasn’t going to do it. We have just finished our last Tech.Rocks book club session on A seat at the Table and that was my 10th book of the year.

I had an objective of reading 15 books in 2021 and was far from being on track. I was late. Moreover, a lot of work has piled up for my job, meaning working late and I was planning holidays with my family in Poland. Not exactly the best context for reading 5 books in a month.

I knew I would finish Dantotsu, having read almost half of it, but didn’t have a plan for much more.

So I got to work - I have chosen some easy reads for the two following books. The first was Make Time because I was counting on it to help me to reach my goal. The second was Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I was hoping it would keep me up at night like The Martian. It did.

Fast forward to December 25th, I’m at my in-laws’ struggling to read anything. I had read 13 books this year and it would be a shame to miss the target. But the following days were going to be filled with caring for my baby, spending time with family which we rarely see and handling covid-induced travel chaos. I was in no shape to go through another 600 pages to check two other books from my “Want To Read”.

Then it occurred to me - I have to read 2 books, right? Any book will do, not only the “read next, important software/entrepreneurship/management business book”! So I sorted my Goodreads list by the number of pages. There they were: two shortest books I have ever added to my “Want To Read” list. Meet Sled Driver and Career superpowers. A total of 3-4 hours to read and entertaining enough to keep my half-asleep brain focused. Finally I felt like I could do it!

I read them both. Was it worth it ?

So first of all, both are worth the time to read them. The Sled Driver is a direct account from cockpit of one of the most of enigmatic planes in history. Career superpowers albeit not being life-changing, contains a few solid hints that are already changing the way I think about my career. Add the signature Whittaker’s style and it is a useful and entertaining read.

Second, without this “cheating” I would probably never have read any of these two books. My “Want To Read” is constantly overflowing and these two were not really on my priority list. But I would probably not have read anything during that period because I was too tired to. So fixing myself a simpler target was not only a way to read more but also to discover something new.

At last, it added 250 pages to my read-count. It made 2021 my best reading year, beating 2019 by roughly that number. So I was happy about my achievement, because hey - I haven’t read that much since graduating!

I am starting the 2022, having set myself to read 15 books and promising myself I will be more consistent. But I also know that if by the end of the year I will be a little short on my goal, I won’t let go. I will just try to “cheat” and reach it a smarter way.

PS. I finished “Career superpowers” on the plane January 2nd. I don’t care, It still counts for 2021. Psychology research has shown that accepting slip-ups leads to better outcomes. We let ourselves recover instead of completely invalidating our goals. So I started my 2022 full of resolve instead of feeling like a failure. You should give yourself some slack too.

Marek Kalnik

My name is Marek Kalnik. I live and work in Paris. Founder and CTO of BAM. Follow me on Twitter