When it comes to success, praising the merits of a strong work ethic comes naturally. But what you do for fun can also support your career goals and complement your drive for achievement in a valuable way. In fact, many of the world’s most successful people know that their hobbies fuel their professional ambitions, whether by giving them a mental break to recharge or flexing their creative muscles so they can find more inspiration.
The career benefits of hobbies are even backed by science. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology concluded that organizations should encourage employees to consider creative activities as a way to promote mental wellbeing and recover from work, which has a positive effect on performance. Other researchers discovered that engaging in activities that are aligned with your personality translates into increased work satisfaction and self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and burnout.
If you’re now convinced it’s time to prioritize your hobbies as much as your career but can’t quite pinpoint what you’d be into, we’ve rounded up some of the things highly successful people enjoy doing in their free time to inspire you. From simpler activities like reading to unusual pursuits like Segway polo, there is bound to be something that catches your attention in the list below.
Bookworms sure do have a competitive advantage in the business world. Business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates famously reads 50 books a year. From science and business books to reads about complex world problems, Gates’ reading appetite knows no bounds. He even enjoys reading fiction every once in a while because it allows him to get out of his own head. Media mogul Oprah is another highly successful person who straight up credits her success to reading and says books were her path to personal freedom.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you have something in common with some of the world’s most accomplished people. Google’s Sergey Brin loves physical activities such as skiing, gymnastics, and even high-flying trapeze and sometimes shows off his acrobatic skills at work. Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty spends half of the year in Florida to indulge in scuba diving. And Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is such a daredevil when it comes to his hobbies that he has experienced a couple of brushes with death throughout the years.
Not only is staying active a healthy habit that will boost your performance at work, but it can also be a lot of fun. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey loves hiking. EXOS’ newly appointed CEO Sarah Robb O’Hagan, who has been named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” and one of Forbes’ “Most Powerful Women in Sports, is a fitness fanatic. And if you’re a runner, you’re in luck: Research has shown CEOs who run marathons may be more effective.
Cooking and baking
Ex-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer once told San Francisco magazine that she extensively studies cupcake recipes and makes spreadsheets for both the ingredients and the frosting to perfect her own baking creations. Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s former CTO, took his passion for cooking to a whole other level as well: He co-created the concept of “modernist cuisine,” which brings science-inspired techniques to the art of cooking. But no need to go to such lengths to enjoy being in the kitchen — to each their own!
Some hobbies are more out there than others. If you’re the type to enjoy a quirky past-time, you’re in good company. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is deeply invested in Segway Polo, a relatively new sport that is exactly what you picture it to be: playing polo on a Segway instead of horses. Cisco co-founder and Urban Decay founder Sandy Lerner is into jousting, a medieval horseback combat game. And actress and activist Shailene Woodley forages for herbs and plants to make healthy concoctions.
Proof that you can be multi-faceted: Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon moonlights as a DJ. And award-winning actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt enjoy getting together to make pottery. Whether you’re passionate about music, photography, or painting, any form of art is a great hobby for keeping the inspiration flowing in your day-to-day life.