Writing as a way to process Cal Newport’s The Deep Life

In a world dominated by constant digital distractions, the existential dread of a collapsing climate, and the ongoing grind of subjugation to the market, cultivating a deep and meaningful life has become an essential pursuit. Renowned author (and now podcaster), Cal Newport, recently introduced an updated version of his Deep Life stack, a step-by-step plan for escaping the shallows and building a life of purpose. 

I loved Cal’s books Deep Work, Digital Minimalism and So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and I count Deep Work among the small group of books I've read a second time. As a person with a strong preference for the written word over audio or video forms, I've done my best to process Cal's recent podcasts on the topic of The Deep Life into a form that I could better understand. In this blog post, I'll delve further into The Deep Life Stack 2.0, breaking down each step and providing insights on how to implement this approach.

Stage One: Becoming a Capable Human Being

Discipline: Body, Mind, Heart

  • Establish three keystone habits: one for the body, one for the mind, and one for the heart.
  • Examples include a daily fitness routine, regular reading habits, and maintaining connections with friends and family.
  • These habits serve as the foundation for building discipline in various aspects of life.

Control: Organize Your Obligations and Time

  • Implement strategies for time management, such as the multiscale planning methodology.
  • Adopt full capture methodologies to record and organize all obligations.
  • Exercise control over your time to ensure intentional and focused energy expenditure.

Craft: Learn and Appreciate Skills

  • Select a skill, either professional or hobby-related, to deliberately and systematically improve.
  • Develop an appreciation for skilled work in others, fostering motivation to enhance your own abilities.

Simplification: Clear Out the Dead Weight

  • Evaluate and simplify obligations, focusing on what truly aligns with your values and goals.
  • Begin the process of technological simplification, minimizing distractions and optimizing the use of digital tools.

Stage Two: Cultivating Depth

Values: Define Your Code and Rituals

  • Reflect on your values, defining a personal code that guides your decisions and actions.
  • Establish rituals that connect you consistently to these values, fostering a deeper sense of purpose.

Service: Be a Leader, Serve Others

  • Use your newfound capabilities to serve others in meaningful ways.
  • Embrace leadership roles in family, community, or larger societal contexts, making a non-trivial sacrifice on behalf of others.

Transformation: Make Values-Based Changes

  • Develop a clear vision for your ideal lifestyle based on your values.
  • Initiate concrete changes to align your life with this vision, embracing transformations that resonate with your deepest aspirations.

Legacy: Think Beyond, Consider Impact

  • Reflect on the impact you want to leave on the world even after you're gone.
  • Formulate a long-term vision or mission that goes beyond personal achievements, contributing to a meaningful legacy.:

This Deep Life Stack provides a structured and iterative approach to cultivating depth in various aspects of life. By first focusing on becoming a capable human being and then moving on to cultivating depth, individuals can build a foundation that enables them to make meaningful and lasting changes. Embracing discipline, control, craft, and simplification creates a robust framework for personal growth. As you navigate through the stages of values, service, transformation, and legacy, you'll find yourself on a transformative journey towards a more intentional, fulfilling, and deeply meaningful life.