Is It Time For a “Depth” Year?

Guys, you HAVE to read this post by my friend David Cain – it’s so good!! And EXACTLY the stuff we need to be thinking about as we go along our journeys here:

Go Deeper, Not Wider

I don’t often get sucked into articles like this, but wow…. such a great piece on perspective and inspiring change in our lives – or rather, FOCUS in our lives and not changing with every opportunity we get! I imagine it’s a great way to slow down time a helluva lot too.

Here’s the gist of it:

“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. 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.”

YES!!!! Appreciating what we have RIGHT NOW and not constantly bringing in more and more “stuff” or jobs or projects or anything else distracting us from just “being” and growing.

What if we did stop and enjoy everything we already have in our lives? What if we didn’t start something new or continue adding in extras all round us just because it’s what we’re used to? How would that make us feel as we go to bed every night? How would that change our finances or dreams?

Such a good thing to stop and marinate on today, and not unlike our own Triad of Hustling concept, and why I ended up FIRE’ing myself from Rockstar Finance the other month…

In fact, had I read this post beforehand I would have saved myself a solid 6 months of struggling and trying to figure stuff out! Haha… Particularly on the whole “starting a new project” thing. You’ll never meet an entrepreneur who’s not chasing a new product or feature or anything else that pops into our brains because EVERY IDEA OF OURS IS AMAZING!! Which of course is the opposite of true, but we’re so addicted to the thrill of the “new” that we end up spreading ourselves way too thin instead of just doing the one thing we should have been doing from the start: focusing.

The same goes with everything we bring into our houses too. How many books are on your bookshelf right now just waiting to be read?? How many new pairs of shoes or shirts or purses are in your closet that you couldn’t live without, yet there they still are with their tags on and all? What if we started consuming everything we owned vs continually bringing home more? I bet it would feel pretty refreshing on top of all the future savings. It would also give you an opportunity to finally part with all those things that are no longer important to you and taking up beloved mental and physical space!

So yeah – highly recommend the post, and really David’s entire blog for that matter: He writes about this stuff much more eloquently than me ;) It’s like having your own personal genius in your pockets, where every couple of weeks it pops up to make sure you’re living a more purposeful, and joyful, life, haha… It’s great. And he’s got handfuls of nuggets piled up from over the years too!

I’ll leave you with one more passage that really brings home the article:

“It’s wonderful to have the freedom to continually widen our interests. But like many luxuries, it has an insidious downside. Ever-branching possibilities make it harder for us to explore any given one deeply, because there’s always more “newness” to turn to when the old new thing has reached a difficult or boring part…

We need to find a way to put up our own limits. When we give ourselves fewer places to dig, we go deeper, and what we uncover is more rare and valuable than the usual stuff near the surface.”

I think it might be time for all of us to consider a Depth Year and see what we’ve been missing… Or if that’s too overwhelming, maybe a Depth Month and going from there? Hell – if you can get through the next 5 days without buying or doing something new it might be a win! Haha…

And you know what, that’s exactly where I’m going to start myself :) For the next 5 days – including over the weekend – I promise to not pick up another book or coin or anything else “extra” in my life, and only consume (and appreciate) that which I already own. Which will be quite challenging because I’m ALL ABOUT BOOKS right now and can’t get enough! (And even libraries will be off limits!)

But you can’t enjoy what you have if you’re always picking up more, right? More  more, in this case. Appreciation = more. And we’ve all got a $hit ton to be appreciative of.

Think it over today, and let me know if you’re joining… There’s no way it could hurt!

UPDATE: There seems to be a little confusion in the comments about what this mentality is about. It’s not necessarily saying you can’t ever buy a new book or clothes or anything else you enjoy, it’s more that you should be *appreciating* and *consuming* that what you already own first before picking up more. If you down books faster than you do shots and they’re your favorite thing in the world, great! Keep buying and soaking them up! But if you have 87 unread books on your shelf like many of us do, *ahem*, then it’s prob a good idea to finally read them once and for all before you pick up (and ignore) the 88th one ;) So basically it’s not about preventing *new* items or projects from coming into your life, but more so about the *consumption* of them BEFORE you go out and continue getting those new items… If that makes sense?

UPDATE #2: Forgot to mention earlier, there’s also a Facebook Group around this Depth Year now! Check it out if you’re one to need a little accountability to keep you on track –> Depth Year: 2018

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  1. Accidental FIRE January 24, 2018 at 5:42 AM

    I thought of this principle last year, but wound up starting a blog in November. So failure.

    But this is a new year!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 6:24 AM

      Hey – can always focus more on the blog now and nix the other shiny stuff! We’re glad you’re here with us! :)

  2. Lily | The Frugal Gene January 24, 2018 at 5:53 AM

    Classic thought provocative post! We haven’t purchased anything new* and we’re not a “gotta upgrade things” family. We don’t have used things – we have well loved things :)

    *Except waterproof wears for the rainy season.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 6:27 AM

      “We don’t have used things – we have well loved things :)”

      Love that!!

  3. Laurie@ThreeYear January 24, 2018 at 5:59 AM

    In terms of clothes, I’m good. Projects–I can definitely abstain for the next five days. A year would be really hard for me! And books–wow! Darn near impossible. But I so understand the point. I admire people who can reread books, really delving into their messages. I’m always on to the next idea, the next point. But it reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”

    This is obviously an idea I need to explore more! :)

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 6:38 AM

      Hah! If it makes you feel better, I never read books more than once either :) Although I have picked up The Power of Less and Essentialism a few different times and read specific passages over again to get my mind right… It seems I’m much more drawn to self-help books than fiction, haha…

  4. Mrs. Adventure Rich January 24, 2018 at 6:32 AM

    Due to a lot of change in our life this year (dropping to one income!), I decided not to set goals but to create “2018 Focus Areas” instead. I’ve really liked the set up so far! It has been a basic framework of keywords that I am trying to apply in various areas (keywords like “flexibility”, “unplugged”, and “adventure”. The focus on going deeper sounds amazing!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 6:39 AM

      Beautiful!! “Deeper” would definitely fit into those keywords there :)

    2. Chris @ Duke of Dollars January 24, 2018 at 6:53 AM

      How are you measuring these?

  5. Ms99to1percent January 24, 2018 at 6:33 AM

    Good advice. We will have to get rid of our FOMO….eventually…hopefully :-)

  6. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance January 24, 2018 at 6:44 AM

    Cool concept.

    When speaking for my own “stuff,” this seems pretty easy actually. I’m blessed with way more than I need. The only thing I tend to buy these days is books and I can borrow most of them from the library anyway.

  7. Chris @ Duke of Dollars January 24, 2018 at 6:52 AM

    This is awesome!

    I feel that this is so true especially like you said, for people who are trying to find new ways to make money. I wouldn’t say it is a negative to quit an idea if you think a new one is better, depending on how far along you are with the first.

    I like to think of things in stages, starting something new for me puts it in the “Do something stage”, then if I keep up with it and enjoy it,I’ve demonstrated that it is something truly enjoyable and continue, followed by reading books and organizing – taking it to the next level level!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 9:53 AM

      There’s def. truth to that :) If we never started anything we’d never get anywhere! I think it’s more about giving our projects and our things our fully undivided attention while we have them, and not always thinking about the “other, potentially better, stuff” as much as we do. Because for all we know the stuff we already have is the best but we never give ’em a chance!

      1. Chris @ Duke of Dollars January 24, 2018 at 7:30 PM

        That makes a lot of sense – plus to sometimes you can do too many at once and never actually do any lol

  8. Myfinancekits January 24, 2018 at 6:57 AM

    You are absolutely correct. We don’t even use greater per cent of what we keep at home. There was a time I relocated. Could you believe that there were two bags I did not open until after years? That shows how irrelevant they are.
    Thanks for the article

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 9:58 AM

      That’s another trick with “stuff” actually :) Pretend that you’re moving and pack EVERYTHING up in boxes, and then see what you miss and what you actually need/care about on a daily basis and then un-pack just those but leave the rest be. If a certain amount of time goes by w/ all the boxes still packed (6 months? a year?) it’s time to discard of them.

      Here’s a post on these “Packing Parties” if you’re interested:

  9. Nicoleandmaggie January 24, 2018 at 7:27 AM

    … no new books? But there’s a reason the ones sitting unread on the shelves haven’t been read yet! (If only we had a better library.)

  10. Mike @ Balanced Dividends January 24, 2018 at 7:33 AM

    Interesting concept.

    Another perhaps similar perspective is horizontal versus vertical learning. I’ve come across this playing / learning musical instruments.

    Say you’re learning to play guitar. On the horizontal side, you’re learning new technique and concepts (strumming, fretting, basic chord progressions). On the vertical side, you might deepen your focus within one area (various finger picking styles, etc.).

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 10:01 AM

      Yup yup… and still falls under “focusing on playing guitar” :) Vs picking up a guitar, then a clarinet, then a kazoo, then tuba, and before you know it you have a marching band in your living room haha…

  11. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance January 24, 2018 at 7:40 AM

    Looking deep into what we already have helps us appreciate the present and stay clutter free.

    I was kind of forced to find value in the limited items that I had when I didn’t have much. It was limited but also liberating. I didn’t need to have everything thought I needed in order to live. Great post!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 10:05 AM

      I bet!! It’s like when people say they’d feel better if a fire destroyed all their stuff. There’s a freeing feeling about starting over and more gradually/consciously refilling your life back up. And you know there’s no way you’d go out and pick up every last item you had! That’s actually a qualifier I use when trying to decide if I should keep or get rid of something – “would I go back out and buy it again?”

  12. Kate January 24, 2018 at 7:49 AM

    I did this last year, not exactly calling it a “depth year,” but I focused on what I had and also on taking things out of my life. I closed a business that stressed me out, I did not attend events I didn’t want to participate in, and I made my life revolve around what was most important to me. I found such freedom in that choice to be somewhat selfish in some aspects and ended the year opening up to many more ideas to improve that depth. This year, once again I am focusing on cutting out, cutting back, and being grateful for where I am. I’m glad to hear you read Raptitude, I’ve read it for years and it’s always inspiring.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 10:05 AM

      You are ahead of the times, ma’am!

  13. MK January 24, 2018 at 8:00 AM

    This really hit home. I’m a sucker for books & craft supplies. I have two bookcases filled with books I haven’t read yet plus a separate craft room in my house. I need to focus more on entertaining myself with what I already have instead of constantly adding to my stashes. And that would also help with minimizing my “stuff” since I generally donate the books after I read them.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 10:07 AM

      YES!!! DO IT!!!

      A gradual step would even be the “one in, one out” method too. You want a cool new craft to bring home? Great – better get rid of a different one then in its place or no can do :) (But I still prefer the “depth year” first as it’s liable to infiltrate the rest of your life and decisions/finances too)

  14. Dads Dollars Debts January 24, 2018 at 8:05 AM

    I am doing a buy nothing year…so we will see how it goes though I leave myself open to acnew experience or two.

  15. Abigail @ipickuppennies January 24, 2018 at 8:46 AM

    He’s/you’re right that we don’t focus enough on what we already have.

    As a collector I’m especially guilty of this. (That said, I couldn’t do a depth year because, while I need to appreciate more how much I already have, there are some limited-time items that I don’t want to miss out on. I’m just going to try to keep them to a minimum.) The other issue that I don’t have unread books. I borrow everything from the library, and while I don’t read enough, I don’t think I could go an entire year without a new book, especially given how many times I’ve read the current ones.

    Still for people who do have a bunch of books (and extra shoes — can you replace shoes that wear out? Because that’s kind of an issue) lying around, I think it’s a pretty cool challenge.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 10:16 AM

      Sounds like you’ve got a good system down :) There’s no rule to *not* picking up books, though, you just have to finish the ones you already have first before doing so. Although that doesn’t seem to be a problem in your case as you’re apparently awesome at that!

  16. Sean @ Frugal Money Man January 24, 2018 at 9:32 AM

    Cool concept!

    It would definitely be very difficult for me to almost re-wire my brain and do that right now. So much of where I am at right now consists of constant growing and learning through new books, building my blog, and advancing in my career.

    The concept though is such an awesome idea, and I will definitely attempt this at least once in the coming years (hopefully…)!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 10:13 AM

      It kinda sounds like you’re already participating in it, actually – focusing and going deep into learning and growing your blog! There’s no rule to not reading new books or anything, it’s more about focused *consumption*. Now if you were picking up a ton of books and courses and not reading them/putting them to use, then that’s where the problem would be :) (Or starting 10 blogs before you really mastered your 1st one)

  17. OMGF January 24, 2018 at 10:07 AM

    I needed to see this today. It’s particularly helpful as I build a business that has quickly been presented with new selling opportunities, revenue streams, and more. My first instinct is to do it all. I needed this to rein me in. Thank you!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 10:14 AM

      Good! And there’s nothing wrong with test out one or two here either, just so long as you really give it some *good time* to marinate and not flying off every 3 seconds like we’re so used to doing :)

  18. FIRECracker January 24, 2018 at 10:12 AM

    I definitely need a Depth Year,though I’ll probably end up only being able to do a Depth month or week…or day :p

    Constantly chasing new projects, opportunities, meetups, etc etc is exhausting. And you’re right it definitely wears you down overtime. So this year I’m just going to focus on one thing: writing a book. Need to let go of all the FOMO Yo!

    Thanks for this post, J! I needed it.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2018 at 10:15 AM

      I would say that’s one helluva good focusing effort, haha…

      And you’re probably going to need the full year from what I hear about book writing! :)

      1. FIRECracker January 24, 2018 at 6:41 PM

        Oh it’s gonna be super painful but hopefully worth it :)

  19. Rocky January 24, 2018 at 10:23 AM

    This sounds like death to me! I have shiny object syndrome when it comes to hobbies haha. I am always taking on something new for a challenge or source of income. I wouldn’t make it past March.

  20. Wendy January 24, 2018 at 10:42 AM

    What a profoundly wonderful idea! I’m so excited to try this.

    1. J. Money January 25, 2018 at 5:50 PM

      Good!!! I hope you do, and then you come back to share all your epiphanies and accomplishments with us :)

  21. Lisa O January 24, 2018 at 11:06 AM

    Love the message of this article! I have been trying to live this way for a few years…happy and content with what I have. Not just spending money to spend money and have more! I have to say that a simple life is the most fulfilling. I don’t know if I could go a whole year with out buying anything…..just trying to be honest :)

    1. J. Money January 25, 2018 at 5:52 PM

      It’s not about buying anything new per se, just not buying anything MORE than you already have and haven’t consumed yet ;) if you read all your books and wear all your clothes, then by all means keep going because you’re doing great!

      1. Lisa O January 26, 2018 at 9:24 AM

        Yes I get that but it is hard to do! It is always nice to buy shiny and new :) I love to decorate for the holidays and I have stopped adding to my collections…if I want new I must get rid of the old first. I sold a few things on fb rummage sale over Christmas to get cash to buy new and it felt great. I got my shiny and new but I had an empty place to store it when it was time to take down.

  22. Joe January 24, 2018 at 11:36 AM

    Interesting, but it doesn’t seem to apply to us. We don’t buy much new things and rarely pickup new interests.
    I don’t see why I shouldn’t read a new book in the next 5 days. That’s just taking the concept too far.

    1. J. Money January 25, 2018 at 5:53 PM

      See above…

  23. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life January 24, 2018 at 11:50 AM

    I’m laughing at the coincidental timing here because this has been on my mind for months. Today’s post is all about wanting to add add add (to our family, not to our things) and my conflict over it because I *really don’t want* more things (like the necessary stuff that comes with a new human or canine, or more complication in our lives. A commenter pointed out that it’s typical of my personality to want to do that but it’s actually a good idea not to keep doing so.

    But like Joe, not reading a new book? That’s just wrong. I read a new book every day if I can make that time.

  24. Dave @ Married with Money January 24, 2018 at 11:52 AM

    Great idea! We bought a lot of stuff last year when we moved….I’m hoping to not buy anything except for ‘essentials’ like furniture so we can put the things we do have on bookshelves, for example. That’s a slippery slope though.

    Thankfully I am happy as a clam not buying anything. It’ll be more of an exercise for my wife :)

    1. J. Money January 25, 2018 at 6:05 PM

      YES!! Thank you, totally forgot to mention that in the write-up… Going now to update :)

  25. Frankie January 24, 2018 at 2:23 PM

    Have always loved David’s writing and couldn’t agree more with the way you’ve described it –
    having a little genie of wisdom in your pocket! This post was excellent, but should probably be read in conjunction with his latest post:

    The gist being we get very excited about a revolutionary idea for a few days, then the heat wears off and we do nothing about it….

    1. J. Money January 25, 2018 at 6:05 PM

      Haha yup – sounds about right :)

  26. Tonya January 24, 2018 at 9:51 PM

    I feel like I’m sort of doing this but necessarily for these reasons. I’m being cheap this year and calling it my “get your shit together” year.

    1. J. Money January 25, 2018 at 6:06 PM

      Hey – whatever gets the job done, haha…

  27. lisa January 25, 2018 at 3:00 AM

    Yes, an in-depth year!
    I’m working on it as well. I have a “capsule wardrobe” where I wear the same things all the time and keep them in the closet and get rid of the rest. I have a 4 ft shelf of clothes that hang. Nothing more.
    I have a “no spend” month where whatever food is in the house gets eaten and cooked. No running to the store!
    I wear the kids’ hand-me-downs to the gym. A bit big on me, but it’s not a fashion show.
    I do not buy any clothing as my job provides a uniform. Only necessities that wear out (sox/underthings/sneakers) get purchased. And I go to ebay for that as it’s cheaper.
    I’m selling and donating stuff to declutter my mind and soul. I find I like living in a museum. Seriously.
    I wish I could progress faster but the kids are still living here and they are like hoarders. ::sigh::

    1. J. Money January 25, 2018 at 6:09 PM

      Haha – I totally have that problem too. I’m the only one out of the four of us who declutters, and at this point my 3 and 5 year old BOTH have more items than I do! And they’re all TOYS that take up their entire rooms!! My wife is slowly catching on I think and starting to see my reasoning, but those kids, boy… And I just don’t have the heart to go in and lay my foot down :)

  28. maria@moneyprinciple January 25, 2018 at 4:25 AM

    This is good stuff. I was just thinking that one of my failings (amongst others) is that I start too many things and don’t test the limits of completion as fully as they ought to be tested. So, here is for a ‘depth’ year.

  29. Debbie January 25, 2018 at 4:43 AM

    Too late. I already bought a Masserati, big castle on a cliff overlooking the ocean & a lear jet to go island hopping this month but now I’ll rein in my spending & eat hotdogs & spagettii for a year. Just kidding. I guess I’ll have to try doing this for a month since I already spent $17 on a DVD collection to share with my elderly mother when she comes to visit soon & hubby spent $15 on track for his train. I just ordered a FREE annual subscription to a magazine using Coke points gathered from his co-workers. When I’m done reading them, I give them to my mother. When she’s done she recycles them. Still plan on trying this concept on a monthly basis.

    1. J. Money January 25, 2018 at 6:10 PM

      That sounds like a BEAUTIFUL system!! It’s not about *not* buying new things, just making sure to consume and enjoy them first before bringing home more :) And you guys seem to be doing great with this! (Outside of that Maserati of course, though I wouldn’t turn down a test drive (hubba hubba))

  30. Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom January 25, 2018 at 11:56 AM

    Wow! Such a great read, especially to start the year off strong. How many things did we get for Christmas? And how much are we actually using them? Hmmmmmm…good thing to ponder. I also appreciate the concept of doing this for 5 days. Baby steps, right?

  31. Divnomics January 25, 2018 at 3:56 PM

    Found the article definitely worth reading, and like the idea to really give projects/work/investments or whatever some time to really proof their value.

    Except for books, that is my one exception. I would rather buy a new book in order to go deep on a topic I’m really into at that moment, then reading the next in line just because it’s on your shelf. Which basically falls into the same principle when looked at it like that ;)

  32. Kris January 25, 2018 at 5:17 PM

    Outside of groceries clothes for our baby, we don’t really buy a lot of stuff. My wife got a FitBit while I got a couple pairs of shoes last month. That would be considered our spending splurge.
    All the stuff we have now, we use it until it runs into the ground.

  33. Heather January 25, 2018 at 6:44 PM

    What a fabulous idea. I may make February a depth month. While I don’t spend a lot of money on things, I can’t stop leaping into new mini side hustles!

    1. J. Money January 26, 2018 at 12:03 PM

      Haha yup – the curse of all hustlers, once you get a first taste you can’t get enough!! ;)

  34. Joy January 26, 2018 at 3:05 PM

    I need this … have signed up for the Facebook group already. I have so much yarn I want to knit, and so many projects on the go that I never need to buy yarn again … until the next fiber festival. I have a spinning wheel my loving husband gave me as a gift, but it hardly gets used. The same with the sewing machine. I’d like to be able to focus on a few things, instead of being distracted by the shiny “thing” flitting by.

    Pinterest definitely doesn’t help … :(

    1. J. Money January 26, 2018 at 5:19 PM

      Go make it happen!!!

      Yarn your ass off and show us all the pretty pics of things you end up making :)

  35. Cecilia Case January 31, 2018 at 8:56 PM

    This seems like a good merging of the two ideas of a “no-spend month” and “spending with intention”. I really like the idea of taking a step back, and really looking at what we are bringing into our lives. Are we just distracting ourselves, or working to enrich our lives with things (and experiences) we love?

    1. J. Money February 2, 2018 at 10:06 AM

      Yup! Pretty much!

  36. Smile If You Dare March 8, 2018 at 11:02 AM

    Starting a blog is (or can be…) a way to get “depth.” It has been for me. I need to think and reflect on things. Otherwise I would just be a “surfer” in the world, flittering from one thing to the next.

    1. J. Money March 8, 2018 at 3:20 PM

      YES!! They make for good reporting over the years too – super easy to look back and see what you were thinking/doing/working on :)

  37. Robert March 8, 2018 at 12:05 PM

    I like this concept. I could certainly benefit from depth on all the things I started and didn’t finish in the last six months.

    It’s amazing how gratifying just being alive is if we just take the time to take the world in.