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Coaching Personal growth

Ideas on living a deep life

Could this be the perfect time to explore the deep life? I would like to think so. But what exactly is a “deep life?” I’d let Cal Newport explain this:

To me, the deep life is about focusing with energetic intention on things that really matter — in work, at home, and in your soul — and not wasting too much attention on things that don’t.

Cal Newport — The Deep Life: Some Notes

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m big on intentionality. It’s the fuel that drives the practice of leadership at any level. And since leadership always beings with you, living a deep life is a critical aspect to one’s development as a leader.

To get started, you need to figure out the things that matter the most to you. Cal recommends four distinct categories: Community (family, friends, and peers), Craft (work and quality leisure), Constitution (health), and Contemplation (matters of the soul). You need to set goals in each of these categories. And then ensure that all your energy and focus is on meeting those goals. As you can tell, this calls for a high level of commitment and if you can already see yourself failing, you will need to calm down first and understand the rules.

1. 30 days at a time (SN: this can’t be a forever thing but is best enjoyed and most effective when practiced in phasic chunks)

2. Attempt a limited number of changes to the four components of the deep life (craft, community, constitution, and contemplation)

3. Focus on two things for each component of your life that you’re trying to improve:

a) See what works and what doesn’t.

b) Keep the former in place and abandon the latter.

4. If you repeat this long enough you’ll notice a marked shift toward the deeper end of the spectrum. (SN: I recommend doing this once every quarter. That’s four times a year. Believe me, it adds up.)

Cal Newport — Cultivating a deep life

Here’s what mine looks like for May 2020:

Community (family, friends, and peers):

  • Amplify: schedule weekly calls with family, friends, and peers without fail. All I need to do is reach out and schedule a time.
  • Reduce: prune my LinkedIn contacts to the absolute minimum and have only the people whom I want to maintain a relationship with. I don’t care if the number is just 50 people. It’s quality over quantity.

Craft (work and quality leisure):

  • Amplify: finalise developing my brand new online workshop on leadership, set a date, and launch it on Facebook.
  • Reduce: blocking off my calendar without any “white space.” Aim to leave at least 30-35% of white space, which translates to more “room to breathe.”

Constitution (health):

  • Amplify: Continue twice-a-day training 6-7 days a week. A slightly lighter dinner.
  • Reduce: No work post 8 pm. No work on Sundays.

Contemplation (matters of the soul):

  • Amplify: restart meditation. Get in touch with my teacher for assistance. Join a group meditation class, if needed.
  • Reduce: spending time on matters that are beyond my control or influence (tweets, Facebook posts, WhatsApp conversations, and news).

I don’t know about you but the above is ample for a month. The real challenge is in being mindful of practicing everyday. Without fail. Sure, there will be imperfect days but that’s okay considering you’re in for the long haul.

What does living a deep life mean to you? If you were to embrace this practice, what would your list look like?