I get anxiety over the weirdest things. Obviously, if anxiety was something you could rationalize away with logic and reason, no one would have anxiety, so it makes sense that my anxiety is sparked with things other people would scoff at.
Like when my Goodreads TBR has too many books on it (right now I’m at a semi-nauseating 615; my happy number is below 580), or when I set a ridiculous goal on my reading challenge.
Reading is a lifelong hobby, dedication, form of escapism—however I can define it, reading is quite literally my life.
When I first joined Goodreads in 2012, I set a goal of reading 150 books. I had tracked my reading before, through incredibly unscientific Word documents, and 150 seemed like a solid stretch. It was hell. The expectation, the pressure (2012 was Year on a lot of different levels), and adding Expectations to my hobby was a deal breaker. I met the goal, but dropped my annual challenge to a more manageable 130 for several years, and then to 120.
For me, this is manageable and something I can easily do. It’s 10 books a month—I average 12-14. When I hit my 120, I don’t up my reading challenge, whatever comes next is extra and part of my “super secret squirrel” goal of 150 (okay, it’s not that secret seeing as I tell literally everyone about my secret goal). In recent years, I have two secret squirrel goals: 150 and then another number that will remain private(ish) mostly because it’s a little more nebulous (it’s a sliding scale rather than a hard number).
But keeping my secret squirrel goal off my GR reduces any external pressure to perform, however arbitrary or self-imposed it may be.
This entire post might seem completely pointless, because it’s reading, it’s frivolous, people are starving and suffering and I’m talking about being stressed over not meeting my reading goals, and yes, it is frivolous and silly. However, it’s important to me, and, based off some things I’ve seen floating about in bookish social media, it’s important (and stressing) to other people too.
So here are some reasons (and reminders) that reading for pleasure is a hobby, not a sport (unless you’re in the publishing or librarian or monetized blogging industry, in which case, it’s a job; or you’re in school, and that’s unfortunate).
Reasons to Lowball Your Challenge
- Feeling of accomplishment when I meet (and exceed) I goals
2. Reduced feeling of anxiety or stress for not meeting my reading goals
3. Reading without pressure. Knowing I can comfortably hit my goal takes the (self-imposed) pressure off.
4. Reading is fun again.