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Week 22: Depth Year

A few weeks ago I came across an article on Raptitude that I found very interesting. You can read it here, but the basic idea is presented in the first few sentences:

“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.

No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.

You improve skills rather than learning new ones. You consume media you’ve already stockpiled instead of acquiring more.”

If you’ve been following my blog, you can probably see right away how this idea would appeal to me. Not acquiring unnecessary new possessions is something I’ve been working on for this past year and was already planning to do again next year.

The other part of this idea, which may not be as clear from those few sentences I shared, is that you spend the year focusing on things you’ve already started, instead of starting new hobbies and following new interests that pop up along the way. This is also in line with my plans, as it relates to the idea of Focal Points, but it also provides an overall framework for how to determine what to spend time on.

I like the idea of having a set of guidelines that I can refer to, as a way of checking in on my progress and determining if I’m on track or not. So that’s what I’m going to make today.

Starting with my four Focal Points:

Writing

I don’t think it will present much of a problem to continue on with this hobby and not buy any new possessions. The way this challenge relates to writing is that it will push me to continue working on projects that I have already started, instead of starting new ones. I think I actually have enough on the go to easily keep me occupied for an entire year.

I’ve started working on writing a young adult novel, which is a genre I really love and I think will be a fun challenge. Due to the amount of writing involved though, I can definitely see that it could be something that might be hard to complete, so including it in my Depth Year challenge should make me more accountable to actually completing a first draft.

I’m also going to continue writing this blog, though likely I will take it down a notch from weekly posts to once or twice a month. I am already finding that there is a time that works best for me to write and I am using up so much of it on the blog that I don’t have enough left to get anything significant done on the novel.

I also have my Shiftyville comics, which have been on hiatus, but I will work on those whenever the opportunity arises.

Dancing

This is a tricky one. Again, I can probably get by quite easily not buying any new possessions related to dancing, but my interpretation of ‘go deeper, not wider’ indicates that the year would be spent working on things that I’ve already learned, instead of branching out to new stuff. That would mean not taking any workshop.

Or, I can go with the broader interpretation, which is that dancing is already an established hobby and anything I do towards improving my skills is just fine. I feel like that’s cheating though, when I have so much material available to me already. This one might involve a family meeting.

We’re already signed up for some blues workshops in February, and we’ll be doing another weekend of swing workshops in April, so there’s no way we’re going to be sticking to only practicing things we’ve already learned.

Since I’m making my own guidelines, my plan is to keep new material to a minimum, and to make an effort to go back through old material and actually practice the things we’ve learned. Not much different than what I already had in mind for my Focal Points, really.

Stained Glass

I don’t even know if I will get to this one this year, mainly because I don’t have a suitable workspace at the moment. That being said, if I do get a chance to pick up this hobby again, it would be completely impossible to do it without making any purchases. I still have all my old equipment, but I don’t have any glass on hand at all.

I actually think this is a huge omission in the original article. The only mention of any form of visual art is watercolour painting and he indicates he could become an accomplished painter in a year with his set of paints. No mention of paper, brushes, or the fact that he’s probably going to run out of his favourite colour long before the year is up.

Most, if not all, visual art forms require supplies that are going to be used up in the process of making art, so I am going to say that supplies don’t count as possessions. They’re consumable, and necessary, so for my purposes, they’re going to be allowed.

Interior Design

I’ve alluded here and there to a side project I’ve been working on. I plan to continue working on it, at least for the first half of the year. I’ve been dragging my feet a bit on this one, so I am going to try to push myself to move forward and see a few things through, and then I will reassess if I want to continue on or drop it.

For all 4 Focal Points, I think the idea of a Depth Year works really well. In most cases, it provides a bit more direction for how I should best use my time, which is helpful.

Beyond those 4 themes, there are a couple of other topics that I’m going to include because they are related to how I spend my time and money.

Renovations

We’ve been working on our house since we moved in almost 10 years ago. At this point, the major stuff is done, but we have a lot of unfinished projects that have been sitting dormant for varying amounts of time. We also have a good stash of building supplies sitting in the basement that we need to either use up, or get rid of.

I know if we set our minds to it, we can definitely get all these bits and pieces completed, so I think a Depth Year is a good way to make it happen. I have vague memories of finishing up all the projects at our townhouse, about 5 minutes before we put it on the market. It was extremely satisfying, and I remember wondering why we hadn’t done it earlier so we could actually enjoy it for ourselves.

This will, of course, involve buying some things, but they will be in the category of supplies and not possessions. No plans to buy any new furniture or anything like that. Part of getting our house finished also includes more purging of unnecessary possessions, which has been an ongoing process over the past couple of years.

I also want to do a lot of work on our backyard, which has been in a state of neglect for almost 10 years (which, not coincidentally, is how long we’ve lived here). Aside from replacing the rotting railings on our deck, I want to do the majority of the improvements to the yard using salvaged and/or shared items. We did our front yard this way and it was super satisfying. This is an open-ended project and there is a lot of room for creativity; I think it will be pretty enjoyable to work on something so much more flexible than most of our other house projects.

Reading

I read a lot. Over the past few years I have averaged somewhere around 40 – 45 books per year. The article is very clear about not buying new books, which is no problem because I am reading only library books anyway, but it’s also pretty specific about reading or re-reading books you already have on hand. My problem with that is that I don’t have enough on hand to keep me going for the whole year.

So here’s my plan: I will read the books I have on hand that I haven’t read, but have been meaning to. I will also re-read the favourites I own, and maybe even re-read a few that I don’t own by borrowing them from the library. That probably covers about half a year worth of reading material.

For the other half, I will try to read the books that have been on my ‘want to read’ list for the longest amount of time* plus I am making an exception for YA fiction. Because I’m working on writing in this genre, I’m going to allow myself to continue reading new YA fiction as much as I want and I’m calling it research. My challenge, my rules.

This all seems quite reasonable and doable to me at the moment, but I will be sure to follow up with my progress throughout 2020. It will be interesting (for me, at least) to see how my perspective changes on each topic as time goes by and I find out how easy or difficult it is to adhere to the guidelines I made.

Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash

*I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I have a terrible memory for what I’ve read or watched. I am dedicated to my Goodreads account, which I use to keep track of what I have read and what I want to read and it is the best tool ever. If you’re on Goodreads, let’s be friends!

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12 Comments

  1. As always I’ve enjoyed reading your article. I’m at a different stage in life than you so purging is a big part of my life. I have tons of art supplies, woodworking projects, tools and ideas. The unfortunate thing is I have lost my drive to “just do” these things mostly due to loss of energy strength and pain. Part of the purging process is so my daughter will not want to kill me after I’m dead for all the accoutrements I have a cumulated after a lifetime of projects passions and dreams.
    So what you are trying to do is an extremely great idea. I guess it boils down to two questions ones I’ve used to coax myself into reality and to think what is truly important. One….what do you really want to do? And two what will my older self thank me for doing in 10 years or twenty.
    So congratulations to seeing how things can end up as Tripping hazards rather than an enjoyable addition to your life. Keep writing, I like how your thoughts make me think.

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    1. Thanks Dianne! I actually just gave away a bunch of art, craft and other supplies I’d been holding onto since I was in school. If I haven’t used them in more than 15 years, I’m probably not going to. Feels good to get them into the hands of people that will make use of them though.

      Like

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