THE BLOG

Making Your Choice: Breadth Vs. Depth

Decision making processes in humans is both incredibly special and flawed. Every time we are faced with making a decision, a myriad number of potential calculations goes through our heads in order to create our desired outcome. Even when we don't decide, we are still making choices about where we will contribute our time and energy.
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Decision making processes in humans is both incredibly special and flawed. Every time we are faced with making a decision, a myriad number of potential calculations goes through our heads in order to create our desired outcome. Even when we don't decide, we are still making choices about where we will contribute our time and energy.

In Mark Manson's latest book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck", he describes how often depth and breadth are mutually exclusive. One may be able to travel to 55 cities and have a breadth of experiences, but rarely has much depth within each city. One may have dozens of sexual partners, but rarely does this equate to much depth within a relationship.

While there are plenty of reasons you might feel unhappy or unfulfilled, it could be that you are searching for depth and breadth at the same time. Here are a few ways you can find out.

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

One of my friends is a coffee expert. He's learned so much about coffee, he created the ultimate coffee guide to help anyone find great coffee beans, make cappuccino, butter coffee, cold brew, and the list goes on and on. Interestingly, if he tried whiskey and other alcoholic drinks, he wouldn't have the same depth of knowledge.

He has chosen depth of knowledge within the realm of coffee and tea rather than a breadth of knowledge enjoying all beverages. Every time he makes a choice to drink coffee instead of an alcoholic drink is a choice for depth over breadth.

Here are some areas of your life where it would benefit you to take a closer look. This will enable you to better understand where you fall on the spectrum of breadth versus depth:

Intimate Relationships - As Manson mentioned in his book, your intimate relationships can be a choice of either breadth or depth. To some degree you may have both, but the two are correlated. If you desire sleeping with many partners from the opposite sex because of social conditioning or evolutionary hardwiring, this is a choice for breadth. If monogamy suits your tastes and you'd prefer to commit to one person, this is a choice of depth.

General Relationships - There are plenty of people who think slinging business cards like ninja stars is the way to meet and connect with others. This approach is one of breadth and isn't inherently wrong, but rarely does it provide the same fruits as an approach based on depth. At least, each of the relationships (between friends, business contacts etc), must have a certain amount of depth to amount to anything.

Career Choice - Your career is a choice between breadth and depth as well. If you are choosing to specialize in something and understand that task deeply, it requires you give up many other tasks at the same time. A video editor can learn new skills, but oftentimes it behooves them to learn their skill to a degree of depth that most people don't have.

Home Location - It's common amongst digital entrepreneurs to be nomadic or travel to different cities often. While this can be fun, it is a breadth of experiences that many find to be fulfilling for only a small period. Jet setting entrepreneurs head from one city to the next in order to save money on their business and live exotic lives, but the reality is that they are choosing to reject depth in favor of this city hopping. It isn't a bad thing, but it is a choice.