Going deeper, not wider: 2019 as a depth year

what is a depth year go deeper not wider

At the end of 2017, I found this article by Ann Patchett on her experiment with a year of no shopping, and promptly decided to give it a go. The idea was to practice conscious consumerism, but let me just say, I sucked at it!

I think it’s mainly because I’m really not much of a shopper. I tend to think before I buy, and the things I splurge on are actually put to use. So, no shopping made no sense for me, personally.

Last month, I stumbled upon the idea of a depth year. Now that…that feels exciting!

What is a depth year

Funnily enough, the idea of a depth year was also floated at the end of 2017 by David Cain, but I stumbled upon it just two weeks ago. The premise of a depth year is simple:

“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.”

David Cain

Now this sounds like something that is right up my alley!

Why would you want to go deeper?

As a creative, it’s easy for me to buy the next shiny new art ecourse, hoard up on art supplies that I may not always use {ahem} and go after all the shiny new things. I’ve noticed a similar trend in my spiritual practices recently. I’ve been jumping from one practice to the next without really sinking my teeth into any of them. And while going wide can be helpful sometimes, it’s starting to make me a little bit anxious, because I don’t feel confident and grounded in any of my newer practices. I think it’s time to put these magpie tendencies to a rest.

The other aspect of this is the excitement of starting something new. The high that we get from starting a new thing, and then another new thing before learning the first thing well, can quickly become addictive. And soon enough, we realize that we have never really achieved our true potential in any area. After all, it’s so much easier to quit that lettering lesson when it comes to the boring, repetitive work of mastering the down stroke and making the perfect loop on the upstroke. It’s easier to convince ourselves we know enough and jump into experimenting with book binding! {true story}.

Do this long enough, and you’ll likely find your mind cluttered with ALL. THE. THINGS., which will give rise to FOMO (fear of missing out), and make you a tiny ball of anxiety hurtling from one thing to the next in a desperate search for “something” and nirvana will elude you forever. {OK, sorry, I got really carried away there! Moving on…}

My depth year

Here is where I give you the lowdown on my depth year, but if I did that, this post would become too long, which most experts say isn’t the brightest of ideas. Besides which, I still need to finalize my plans before I put them out there for all of posterity. So, I will take some more time, give things one more think, and share my depth year plans with you next week!

But before we part, let me ask you this: Is there something you could improve – a hobby, a creative endeavor, an instrument or a language – if you gave yourself the gift of a depth year? Is this even something that interests you? Or would the opposite – a wide year – be more up your alley?

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I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. Your posts always are pretty soul-searching Jini! I find myself questioning my own intentions for the road ahead. I do have the tendency to get all excited about new projects but somehow the enthusiasm wanes when I don’t see the desired results for all the hardwork I put in. Depth year, that is a great concept.Will chew on this for a while. In the meanwhile, here’s wishing you loads of luck finding your own depth!

    • Well, I guess one important thing is, before you even really start with a project, get clear on what *you* want to achieve from it. I’ve found (at least for me), that I often get sidetracked by what other people think I should achieve from it (or even what other people achieve). But when I take the time to connect back with my expectations, it’s always a lot clearer. If you have any questions on a depth year, or want to brainstorm, you know where to find me! 🙂 xx

    • It’s so easy to go after the next shiny thing, isn’t it? I’ve been guilty of it far too often. I’m really interested in seeing where focusing on the things that interest me instead takes me.

  2. What a fantastic idea!

    I really like the idea of improving things I have already started before moving on to a new shiny activity! Although. I also feel that I started quite a few new things in the last year, so i am nowhere near ready to drop them! I have already been planning a depth year, without knowing what that is!!

  3. That makes total sense! We always tend to think new year-new me or the beginning of an year naturally implies wanting to start some new projects. But instead focusing on improving what we already do is what we should be aiming for. Ah, love this post!

  4. Given that my word of the year is depth and I think I know the article you’re talking about, this completely aligns with my vision for 2019. It’s incredibly soothing to do things with rapt attention and complete focus. I hope you make the most of your depth year and wish you more and more success with writing, creating and journaling in 2019 🙂

    • Depth is a wonderful word for the year! And yes, doing things with attention and focus, and also finding the value in what you already have/enjoy rather than constantly running after the next shiny thing. That’s what it’s about. Wish you a wonderful year too, Shy!

  5. I love this concept of a ‘depth year’, Shinjini. As I’ve said in another post of yours, it speaks to my soul, and I feel it is not very alien to what I’ve thought of for my year in 2019! Good luck with your #WOTY, and for all that you’ve planned to do as you explore ‘depth’ in your life, art and writing. I’d love to know how you would be documenting these as the year progresses! Will look forward to your updates, too. 🙂

    • Oh wonderful, Esha! I’m so happy it resonated so deeply with you! I will be sharing some updates here through the year for sure. And I’ll be tracking things in my planner, of course!

  6. This makes total sense, Shinjini! I do the exact thing – going wider not deeper, and causing chaos and a not good enough feeling. This year I decided to take it slow and focus on only things that help me reduce stress. That means I have to say no to myself when I am tempted to sign up for something new. I loved reading this. 🙂

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  8. Well this was insightful!! I have to admit by the definition of depth year my hear kind of stopped for a second. Not trying new things sounds awful to me when I think of my everyday life, my work, or my writing. But I think this is just what my spiritual practice needs. I have quite a list of things there that I want to learn more in depth and doing that would easily fill out a year so it wouldn’t feel limited. I agree so much when you wrote you want to learn more so that you feel more confident in your knowledge. This was great, moving on to the next 😉 xx Anita

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