It's that time of year where everyone is reflecting on the year that's passed and pondering ways to do and be better in the year to come. You'll find no shortage of resolutions ideas, business planning suggestions, or rituals to reset your emotions floating around online. But perhaps the best and most radical idea I've come across lately comes from Raptitude blogger David Cain.
His idea: in 2018 do nothing new.
Wait, what? How can doing absolutely nothing new help you learn, grow, and improve? As Cain explains in his thought-provoking post, our constant search for the next cool thing often gets in the way of both enjoying what we already have and mastering the skills and hobbies we're already pursuing.
It's not an plan that works for everyone - his idea is aimed at those of you who are "established in your career, and you have some neat stuff in your house" - but if you meet these basic requirements, Cain suggests you consider dusting off that old guitar in the closet or firing up your neglected blog and making 2018 a "depth year." He explains what that means like this:
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.
You read your unread books, or even reread your favorites. You pick up the guitar again and get better at it, instead of taking up the harmonica. You finish the Gordon Ramsey Masterclass you started in April, despite your fascination with the new Annie Leibovitz one, even though it's on sale.
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.
Why would this deep dive into the resources you've already collected be more valuable than searching out new better stuff and skills? In our consumer age, Cain explains, there's a certain (kind of addictive) pleasure in chasing the new. But this constant grabbing for something fresher or better often distracts us from really diving into what we've already committed to. We end up, in his words, "being half-assed about things."
How to finally become a real adult
It's childish really, he believes. The truly adult thing to do - in the sense of the word that suggests solidity and wisdom rather than capitulation and drudgery - is to own your choices (and your things) fully and not always go running off after the next shiny bauble.
"Having completed a Depth Year would be a hallmark of maturity, representing the transition between having reached adulthood chronologically and reaching it spiritually," he speculates, imagining what would happen if the idea really took off. "By taking a whole year to go deeper instead of wider, you end up with a rich but carefully curated collection of personal interests, rather than the hoard of mostly-dormant infatuations that happens so easily in post-industrial society."
"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," he concludes. Your 'Depth Year' would involve finally pushing through that difficulty to really master what already interests you.
It's an idea you don't hear every day. What do you think of it - crackpot notion or quiet bit of brilliance?