Purpose, personal mission statements, core values, our “why” – what ties all these things together? Depth. We use these things to help us go deeper in the areas of our lives that matter most.
So what is “depth”? How do we define it, and most importantly, how can we create more of it? What does it mean to go deep in an area of your life – and what are some of the things that prevent us from experiencing it?
Answering these questions begins by understanding the challenges that “width” creates in our lives. Does this sound familiar? I was experiencing a life, personally and professionally, where I was spread thin. I always felt overextended, yet I continued saying “yes” to everything. This left me feeling unfocused and not concentrating my energy on what was important. The result? My life was as wide as the ocean, deep as a puddle. I did a lot of things good, but nothing great.
I didn’t want to settle for good.
With that in mind, I dove into what life would look like if I went deep in the areas that were most important to me. To do this, I needed to define what depth meant to me, and I landed on the D.E.P.T.H. model. Here are the five areas that impact how deep we go in any area of our lives: Desire, Energy, Purpose, Targeting, and Habits. Let’s dig in a little deeper…
The single most important driver in creating depth is desire – it’s the spark that ignites everything else. Atomic Habits author James Clear captures it this way, “Desire is the engine that drives behavior. Every action is taken because of the anticipation that precedes it. It is the craving that leads to the response.”
Getting clear on what we want requires answering some basic questions… If you were to envision living life on your terms, what would that look like? Even more important, what would it feel like? What kind of lifestyle are you trying to create for yourself and your family? What are your goals and aspirations in life?
With a clear understanding of what you want and the life you’re trying to create, your energy is the next place to focus your attention. You need to choose where you’ll be investing your time and what activities will turn your wants into realities. Keep this in mind – energy is a finite resource. We only have so much of it, so spending it wisely is critical.
Ask yourself… What actions are you willing to take to get what you desire? What activities will you invest energy into? Where should you be spending your time? What should you be doing, and where should you be applying force to create movement?
Our desires have no value unless we are willing to put energy and effort into working toward those wants. Without that, they’re just wishes. Answering these questions will help you lock in on where you should spend your energy.
Want to 10X your efforts? When we align our desires and energy with our purpose, it catapults our results. Purpose is the multiplier that increases your impact and allows you to go deeper more quickly. It’s also the element we need in order to get through the challenges of creating depth – those moments when we encounter barriers or pressure. When we’re passionate about what we’re working on, it impacts our willingness to fight for what we want, be stubborn, and persevere.
Ask yourself these questions… What gets you out of bed in the morning? What are your core values – the things that are non-negotiable in your life? If you have a personal mission statement, what have you identified as your motivations? What drives your decision-making, and how do you want to be remembered when you’re gone? When you attach the answers to these questions to your desires and energy, you’ve created a strong foundation for depth in your life.
With your desires, energy, and purpose aligned, here’s the part I have struggled with the most… targeting. As I shared in the beginning, I wanted to be great at everything, and I spread myself too thin. I was unfocused – not laser-focused. It wasn’t until I started targeting the most important things (not everything) that I started experiencing changes in my life.
I shared earlier that I used to say “yes” to everything. Eventually, I came to this reality. Everything I say “yes” to requires saying “no” to something else. As I shared above, we all have limited time, energy, and resources. With that in mind, making sure we’re saying “yes” and committing to the right things is critical. Remember, just because something is good and noble doesn’t mean we should be targeting it in our lives.
Let me use this example to draw a picture. In the Twin Cities where I live, thousands of nonprofits and charities make a positive imprint on our community. For me, I know that I can invest a tiny bit in every one of those organizations, and I’ll create a minimal impact. The alternative is to choose the ones that align with my purpose the most. Then, I can donate time and resources to those and go deeper with them in their mission.
Our lives are no different. Getting focused and going deep requires making some tough choices. Look back at your desires, energy, and purpose. As you’ve been answering those questions, there are likely some themes that have shown up more than once. Family, friends, faith, community, and my business all rise to the top when I answer these questions. You may say, “That’s still quite a bit to focus on.” You’re right, but using this list gives me a tool for choosing if a “yes” fits my life or not, and it allows me to be smart with my decision-making.
We’ve reached the “H” in DEPTH… Habit. In the areas that matter most to us, the ones where we want to go deeper, we need to create habits and patterns to ensure we maintain focus. By creating small rituals and practices in our lives that are repeatable and focused on the areas we unlocked above, we ensure that we will go deeper in those parts of our lives.
Consistency in our actions is the final key to going deep in anything, and creating these habits is essential. The things we do repeatedly are the best signals of what really matters to us. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
Ask yourself this… What small habits can I start today to help me go deeper in the areas that matter most? What could I include in my day or week, that if I continued repeating it through an entire year, would change my life?
Depth can be challenging to define and even more challenging to create in our lives. I get it, because I am trying to create more of it every day, and some days I get off track. Focus back on the D.E.P.T.H. model… What do I Desire? Where will I invest my Energy? What’s my Purpose? What areas should I be Targeting? What Habits should I be creating? The answers to those questions will help you go deeper in whatever areas you choose… Now, it’s up to you!
Ready to go deep? Subscribe here where I’ll keep equipping us all and holding us accountable as we’re creating more depth in our lives! – John