I spend a fair proportion of my week talking to soloists and find myself increasingly interested not in ‘what they do’, but ‘what else they do’.
Sadly it seems to me, such is the drive to make money and financially justify an activity, that the good old fashioned hobby is falling by the wayside.
There is evidence to suggest this is costing much more than money.
The dictionary defines hobby as ‘an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure’.
How many of us in small business I wonder, struggle to find either ‘leisure time’ or ‘pleasure’ in the average week?
Distinct from business actions, hobbies are activities that we don’t have to excel in and we don’t have to be ‘the best’ as the value is in the doing, more than any tangible outcome.
One of my hobbies is to walk and explore new areas of my City, but this pursuit doesn’t mean I’m working up to a month-long trek of the Camino de Santiago. Nor is my walking a precursor to a blog or a strategy to crush it on instagram. I just enjoy walking. I also fiddle about with old cameras and at the time of writing have successfully wrecked more than I’ve fixed. And it’s been a total joy.
A hobby truly is a useful reminder that we don’t have to be good at everything and messing up can be fun. Perhaps you whittle things out of wood. And maybe for a good while, as you learn your craft, what you create is little more than an ugly little clump of timber. The important thing is, they’re your ugly little clumps and in the process you’ve handled, crafted and worked the wood.
Meandering along the learning curve, really can be more fulfilling and satisfying than hurtling down the straight.
This relaxed pursuit of something that’s just ok, is surely far better than not starting something because it may not be good enough. Demanding excellence in every aspect of our life steals an important sense of freedom and removes one of life’s greatest rewards: activity purely for enjoyment.
Realising of course that Flying Solo is an online community designed to help you succeed and grow in your business and not necessarily the place you’d expect to be told to work less and tinker more, let me close by mentioning the work of Texas neuroscientist, Dr. Denise Park. This should serve to reassure us all that hobbies are indirectly extremely good for business.
A few years ago in this study she monitored the impact of sustained engagement in a hobby on cognitive
function. Her work involved a group of 200 elderly participants where each was assigned a new hobby to dive into. Without exception, this action helped her subjects boost their memory and cognitive abilities. A year later the improvements remained.
So do you think your work and life may just benefit from a bit of a cognitive tune-up? If so, pick up a hobby. This list of 100 possible pursuits from Hobby Help may help you draw up a shortlist.
If nothing else, by starting a new hobby, you’ll prove you do have leisure time and will likely spend it pleasurably.