We all want to live “deeply,” a life of meaning and significance. But how does that happen? It does not happen haphazardly. One of the benefits of modern life is that we can often be given the freedom to think deeply about our lives and can control much more of our lives than ever before. Yet so many new distractions exist that can pull us away from building a life of significance. How do we go about developing this deep life. Good thoughts have already been formulated on this subject. Here is my engagement with the issue:
Step 1: Brainstorm Values
Take some time to brainstorm what is important to you. As Christians, we derive our values from the Scriptures. But we can also reflect on our lives and come up with other things that are important to us.
Step 2: Group in “Buckets”
Begin grouping your values into “buckets” which correspond to different roles or areas in your life. You may develop your buckets through grouping them by certain relational roles (husband, son, worker, etc.). Or you may just group them by general area (health, life, self, work, school, etc.). How you label isn’t so important. What is important is that they give you a decent grasp of your whole life.
Step 3: Develop a vision for each bucket
Next, develop a “vision” for each bucket. The vision is written in the present tense as to the kind of person you are for that bucket. And then move into the kinds of actions you take based upon that vision in the second half of the paragraph. For example, here is my “vision” for the GOD bucket:
“I am a redeemed man who does all things for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). I live in light of the gospel—that I was a sinner but Jesus died to take away my sins. I am consistently reading my Bible and meditating on God’s word in order to know God. I am a man of prayer, who intercedes both for myself and others.”
Step 4: Pick a keystone habit for each bucket
A keystone habit is a habit which undergirds all the other habits in that bucket. It is the one vital habit that keeps you on course. Ideally, it is a habit that you will do every day, but it does not necessarily need to be a daily habit. A keystone habit keeps you on track even if your life gets busy and difficult. The trick in developing a keystone habit is that it needs to be “just right.” Too difficult, and you won’t do it. Too easy, and your mind will consider it trivial and won’t carry it out consistently. It needs to balance the right amount of ease and difficulty.
Step 5: Take 4-6 weeks to overhaul each bucket, one at a time
After developing keystone habits for each bucket, take 4-6 weeks and experiment which overhaul each bucket. To overhaul a bucket, you need to know the values and components that go into that bucket. That way you can build a plan to develop and amplify the good things in the bucket. You will probably need to brainstorm all the different components that go into that bucket. As you go, you will need to develop a plan for building “supporting habits” that feed into this bucket.
BONUS: Constructing a Deep Life Notebook
Physical things still matter. And nothing can help you stay focused in your life like a quality notebook. You will want to merge your reflections on the Deep Life with your productivity system so that you can have a *somewhat* comprehensive vision of your life. To construct a Deep Life Notebook and planner, you will need the following things:
- Notebook with see through sleeve
- Pocket folder
- Planning pages (week, daily)
- Habits checklist
You will probably want to put your keystone habits checklist in the front cover to make sure that’s upfront. Then you will want to print out the planning pages and fill the first half of the notebook with planning pages. Then you will want to keep your Deep Life and Values document somewhere in the planner to reference as well.