I didn’t want to do it. In fact, if I died at age 150 and never did it – I wouldn’t care. I couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to!
I’m not talking about picking up dog poop, balancing my checkbook or getting a root canal. It is nothing that manageable. Nope, I’m talking about visiting Mississippi!
Let’s be honest – who wants to live in Mississippi?! I know New Jersey gets a lot of jokes, but Mississippi? Why is that even a state?
That being said, with all my stereotypes dancing in my head, I found myself driving to Biloxi last Saturday! While I admit to cracking my share of inappropriate jokes, by the end of the day I have to say I enjoyed it! Would I want to live there? No. But it was a fun trip.
For me – the trip classifies as a “broadening experience.” It was a deliberate choice to seek out opportunities to do something different and new. For most, it is this type of experience, not major life changes, most likely to help you discover a broader version of you. That’s the lesson I intend to push home.
The Purpose of Depth and Breadth in your Life
Most of you are not going to radically change your core beliefs and/or behavioral DNA at this point in life. However, nor should you put life on cruise control and coast. The challenge is to regularly add depth and breadth to your day to day.
To build depth and breadth in your life requires deliberate effort. With Depth – you take what you already do and add more of it or do it better. For example, if you like to exercise – sign up to run a marathon in a desired location (e.g., Napa Valley, London) – combine a vacation with a race weekend.
Breadth is different – this is when you bolt-on to your current activities. It is like finding an adjacency – it broadens your experience. For example, if you enjoy music – why not start taking guitar lessons?
The goal is to be all that you can be. To build on the foundation you’ve established by adding new passions and/or opportunities without radical change.
Sometimes you can add depth and breadth to your life with just awareness and effort. That’s my trip to Mississippi. While I’m not in a hurry to get back to Biloxi (sorry), I did find the Alabama Shore to be beautiful! We are already planning another trip back for more exploring and may even make that our winter home next year! That would not have happened if I didn’t go.
4 Strategies to Increase Depth and Breadth
The purpose of this article is to help increase the depth and breadth in your life. Here are four methods for doing so.
- Seek new experiences – I don’t care if it’s a new restaurant, type of food, place to visit or type of literature -try it! Until you put your self into a situation, you can’t fully experience it. When you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the doors that open, the lessons learned and the knowledge gained. Pick something new at least monthly and engage.
- Develop new skills/abilities – you don’t know what you don’t know. The possibility of God-given talents or passions may lay just outside your reach. How do you know if you could be a great teacher, piano player, sailor, pilot, speaker or stock picker if you don’t start the learning process? Let your passion or curiosity lead the way and develop a new skill. After that – do it again.
- Generate new ideas – cognitive dissonance is something most try to avoid. Simply put, the theory suggests humans strive for internal consistency. If you experience inconsistency (dissonance), you tend to become psychologically uncomfortable. Furthermore, in an attempt to reduce or eliminate dissonance, you may consciously avoid situations or information contrary to your world views. That’s no way to evolve! Get uncomfortable. Stretch and challenge your philosophy and beliefs. Push and change your views. Keep asking “why” or “why not?” Explore new ideas and move beyond your normal.
- Nurture new relationships – When was the last time you had dinner with a stranger? How many new “friends” did you make last year? Hanging with your ‘besties’ is great, but it doesn’t help you expand, enhance or grow. Integrating new relationships in your life is a great way of finding opportunities, learning and expanding your horizons.
I challenge you to add depth and breadth. It doesn’t have to be radical or time consuming. I have a friend who added a one-hour guitar lesson to his week and got infinite joy and satisfaction (and he didn’t have to visit Mississippi!)