At the start of 2018, David Cain wrote a blog on Raptitude entitled “Go Deeper, Not Wider”. In it he outlined the idea of taking a “Depth Year”; a year in which you commit to deepening your skills and knowledge, appreciating and using what you have instead of acquiring more stuff and deepening relationships with the people already in your world.
A Depth Year is a year where you resist the urge to start shiny new projects and instead pick up abandoned projects that have been stuck in a state of half done. It’s a year of reading the books on your shelf rather than buying new ones. It’s a year of digging out forgotten treasures at the back of the cupboard and using up what’s already in the pantry.
I only heard of this concept a couple of weeks ago, when the wonderful @marquettelaree shared it on Instagram, but I have been doing some research and the more I consider this concept, the more I see how this could be an opportunity to address some things in my life that had been unsettling me. My conscience has been niggling at me these last few months and I think a Depth Year could be a good framework for me to make some positive changes.
I have really enjoyed discovering other people’s goals and approaches to their Depth Year, it’s just interesting to see people work on their own skills and ambitions. Here are some of the reasons why I am making 2020 my Depth Year:
I want to curb my consumerism — For most of my life I have been quietly proud of how I handle my finances. Since my first round of pocket money as a child I have been good at saving, spending carefully and meeting my financial goals. But in the last few years, my budgeting and saving habits have fizzled out. I have got indulgent and careless with my spending, and at times I know I have been living beyond my means. My conscience was especially pricked last year when I preached a sermon on Luke 12; the parable of a rich man who stores up treasures on earth, but none in heaven. It led me to study the Gospels again on attitudes to money and possessions and I have been challenged to reconsider how much of my time, energy and money am I spending on things I don’t need and maybe don’t even really want. I think many people of all faiths, and no faith, are coming to a place of realising that there is little true satisfaction in owning lots of things, and yet buying more stuff remains a big shiny temptation. I am seeing the Depth Year as a chance to up my appreciation of the possessions I have and slow down my impulse spending. I am going to use up my make up and bathroom supplies before picking up a new treat. I am going to search the house for good rainy day activities and games before I use ‘having nothing to do’ as another excuse to hit the shops. And in general, I am going to start saving and budgeting again.
It brings writing back in to focus — I am happier on days when I write. Whether it’s a blog post, sermon preparation, a page of a story or even a diary entry, there is something about writing that makes me happy. If there is one skill or hobby I want to develop, it’s writing. I don’t have any goals this year to make money from it, or get published. I just want to write and get better at writing because I am happier on the days when I write.
I want to be more present in my relationships — This is the year that I am going to break my bad phone habit. I don’t want to waste hours scrolling on my phone doing nothing in particular, especially when I have a family right in front of me that are way more important, interesting, dynamic, and wonderful than any list of funny tweets could ever be. My daughter and husband deserve more of my attention than they are currently getting. And I have so many friends who I don’t see face to face nearly enough. This year I am going to be much more deliberate about spending quality time with the people that I love.
I’m craving simplicity — Especially in my faith. It is hard for me to put in to words but I am feeling a really strong pull to go back to the basics; prayer, scripture, worship, fellowship, service. Focusing on daily bread to meet daily needs. I want to strengthen my personal foundations more than I want to launch a new ministry or start a new project. And beyond that, I think I am also craving simplicity in general; my heart warms at the thought of a welcoming home, food on the table, walks on the hill, good books, friends laughing in coffee shops, good conversations that run in to the night. A depth year is a chance to really luxuriate in the simple comforts and delights already at hand.
Because I am very grateful for what I have — David Cain’s original post on a Depth Year began by saying:
“I keep imagining a tradition I’d like to invent. After you’re established in your career, and you have some neat stuff in your house, you take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need.”
It strikes me that, to even contemplate a Depth Year you must acknowledge that you are already in a fortunate position. Not everyone is at a stage of life where they are settled enough to try this idea out. I am starting with 2020 with a deep sense of gratitude for my family, my home, my friends, and my financial stability. I have much to be thankful for, and part of being truly thankful means being responsible too. I have wonderful friends, I need to make sure I actually spend time with them. I have interesting books, I should read them and learn from them. I have a healthy, happy child, she is only mine for such a little time on this earth, I should make the most of each silly imaginative bizarre game that she invites me in to. I have a faith where revealed truth and heavenly mystery are intertwined, I should ask more, learn more and lean in deeper.
I hoping to keep a diary on here of how I get on with my Depth Year. In my next entry I will share some more of the practical plans and steps I am putting in to place to make my Depth Year a reality, so stay tuned!