minimalism

Finding Freedom and Depth

Photo courtesy of Unsplash and Kalen Emsley

Photo courtesy of Unsplash and Kalen Emsley

Last year, my New Year’s Resolution was to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.  It was wild, nerve-wracking and ultimately a liberating exercise.  2018, in some ways, is a continuation of pushing that edge as I decide strategies to embrace freedom and depth, ironically, by creating constraints.

It started with a New York Times op ed article by author, Ann Patchett, titled My Year of No Shopping.  The article was compelling, brave, scary, and completely committed. It caught me with the quote, “what I needed was less”.   The idea was turning over in my mind when I reposted it to Facebook and my cousin called me to the challenge.

Gulp.  The idea of not buying things filled me with panic.  I immediately felt the need to go Black Friday style and buy everything in anticipation of buying nothing.  So I knew I was on to something.

Our pursuit of material things can be an obstruction to actually finding meaning and purpose in life.

My research took me even further with a brilliant article by David Cain, Go Deeper, Not Wider, which I highly, highly recommend.   David describes these type of constraints as a Year of Depth.  Like Ann Patchett, he advocates no shopping, but he goes further.

"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.

The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.” Drill down for value and enrichment instead of fanning out. You turn to the wealth of options already in your house, literally and figuratively. We could call it a “Depth Year” or a “Year of Deepening”."


For me, a Depth Year feels like I get a pass from chasing things. I have a habit to spreading myself too thin and I am craving depth.  I want less.  I want to have less, I want to think about less things, I want less events on my calendar and with what I choose in my life, I want greater depth.  With less in my head and on my plate, I have more freedom, more space to give, more space to be.  A year of no shopping starts that trend.

The things we buy and buy and buy are like a thick coat of Vaseline smeared on glass: We can see some shapes out there, light and dark, but in our constant craving for what we may still want, we miss life’s details.   - Ann Patchett

I will have to detach from my attachment to things.  When I feel empty on love, I give myself gifts to feel better. When I get that uncomfortable hollow feeling, I fill it with things, treats, pretty objects, new programs that provide that dopamine kick.  This year, I want my freedom more.  Time to go cold turkey.

Here is how I am Embracing Freedom and Going Deep in 2018.

1. I am not going to buy new things this year (unless absolutely necessary, like toothpaste or when my running shoes fall apart).  For me, this is clothes, shoes, accessories, and Starbucks.  Get ready to see me in the same clothes all year.

2. I am not going to take up new hobbies.  I plan to get better and the ones I’ve already started.

3. I am going to go deeper with my practice, my clients, my workshops, family & friends.

It starts today.  Wish me luck.