When many of us enter the workforce, hobbies and leisure activities can take a back seat as we settle into our new routine. Some of us find our way back to the things we love, but for others, work can become all-consuming.
I think hobbies are not only an essential part of being a well-rounded person, but they can help you when it comes to your career! Here’s how.
From a mental health perspective, having a hobby gives you something outside of work to look forward to – and something to fill your time with, outside of work. If you’re passionate about our work and you love what you do, that’s a good thing – but when work completely takes over your life, burnout and job dissatisfaction is a real possibility.
If you don’t really have any hobbies, or if you’re looking to expand your hobby list, take a look back to what you loved when you were younger: Did you love a particular sport? Singing? Baking? A quick Google search should be able to show you the next steps for getting back into your chosen activity.
Similar to work, when you have a hobby you probably have goals to do with that activity. I think it’s important to hone your skills, no matter what your hobby, and if you can take that beginner’s mindset into your work and try and see your role with fresh eyes? Even better.
You’re not going to get things perfect every time, particularly if your hobby is a creative one. You’re not going to win every match or every award – and that’s ok. Hobbies can teach tenacity and resilience, which are two transferrable skills you can take into the workplace. Hobbies teach you to keep trying, get back up again when you ‘fail’ -and that’s the same thing that happens at work.
I don’t know many people whose careers skyrocket in a linear fashion. We’ve all had career setbacks, whether they be things like not getting a job or promotion you had your heart set on, or not getting selected to work on a project - for those of us who have cultivated resilience (both at work and outside it), these setbacks are often taken in stride and the comeback is much faster (and much more likely!).
You learn the greatest lessons from failure.
Hobbies teach us to be present and to focus on what we’re doing. If you, like me, are dealing with horses or other animals in your hobby, you’ll know what I mean. Horses are big animals and they’re hugely powerful, so you need to be able to pick up on their behavioural cues to stay safe.
Being present with your team is a really important skill to cultivate at work. My team tease me about being on my phone during meetings, and I’ve realised that it’s far more respectful – and saves time in the long run – if I’m fully present and concentrating, with my phone in another room.
This is a big one. Not everything is going to come to you as quickly as you would like, but if you keep going you’ll get the outcome you’re looking for. Patience is a key skill. Whether your job requires the patience to learn technical skills or you have a client-facing role where you need to practice patience with other humans, having a hobby that allows you to develop patience in a non-professional environment can be helpful.
Hobbies allow you to meet new people, and give you the opportunity to not only build a tribe, but to interact with people who have different personalities and opinions to you. The work benefit here is that you not only cultivate a support system that truly does have your back, but you also develop skills in being able to talk to people My closest friend is a fellow horse rider, and being able to talk through the challenges I’m facing at work and get a different perspective can be really helpful.
So, there you have it!
If you perhaps thought hobbies were a waste of time, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and think about either trying something new, or revisiting a hobby you loved when you were younger. And if it makes you better in your job? Even better.