Why You Should Embark on a 'Depth Year'

CC BY 2.0. Chris Pichado

Forget trying to broaden your horizons. Focus on deepening them instead.

If you couldn't leave your house for a year and had to entertain yourself using what you already owned, what would you do? (And let's say the Internet was spotty at best, just for argument's sake.) I, for one, would start practicing my guitar, and pull out old yarn and knitting patterns, and probably get to work on the scrapbooks I've been meaning to make for each of my kids. I'd make recipes I've been thinking about for years. Perhaps I'd even start on that book draft I've been dreaming of for even longer.

The point of this hypothetical situation is to remind us that we are, in fact, surrounded by a wealth of stimulating and educational material, but that most of us fail to take advantage of it. We are too easily stumped by obstacles and distracted by new, more exciting projects.

David McCain, who writes at Raptitude: Getting Better at Being Human (and has been quoted numerous times on TreeHugger!), has proposed an antidote to this tendency. He calls it a Depth Year. The idea is to "stop acquiring new things or taking on new pursuits. Instead, you return to abandoned projects, stalled hobbies, unread books and other neglected intentions, and go deeper with them than you ever have before."

Not only does this commitment improve you as an individual, but it is an interesting way of rejecting the consumer culture that thrives on a societal obsession with chasing cheap thrills:

"The consumer economy nurtures this sweet tooth. There's just so much money to be made in selling people new paths — new equipment, new books, new possibilities. The last thing marketers want is for people to get their excitement and fulfillment from what they already have access to. They would hate for you to discover the incredible wealth remaining in what you already own."

Perhaps most compelling is McCain's reminder about reviving friendships that may have been neglected. "Meeting new people is something we tend to try when we’re feeling isolated or stagnant. But there are already great people in our rolodexes, and it’s easy to take them for granted."

Why not make a Depth Year your resolution for the year? Forget developing new skills and focus on honing the ones you've already started. What books will you pull off the bookshelf? Which old friends will you call to share a cup of tea? Which art projects, language studies, and music books will you complete?

Read McCain's full original article here.