How to succeed in your hobbies outside of work

Adulthood teaches us to think meanly of distractions but I think that’s a mistake. Whatever your job happens to be, don’t let it eclipse the preoccupations resting in idle spaces. You can only make work that matters, if the work itself only matters so much.

I remember this workplace study that came out a little while back that said a third of Americans only spend 42 minutes a day doing the things that they enjoy. Just this week a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that workers who struggle to balance their careers and personal life evidence an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

Whenever a paper or an expert attempts to repudiate the implications posited above, their objections are usually staged as motions separate from performance and drive. They all too often mean to imply that the exclusive purpose of a hobby or interests, is to alleviate stress but fail to consider that even passions that we aren’t particularly good at, actually make us better in every sense and endeavor.

Refreshingly, a recent study published in the Journal of Vocational Therapy determined that when we devote time to an activity that brings us joy but that is also wholly different from what we do at our place of employment, our performance confidence surges alongside our focus wholesale. Shelia McClear of Ladders reports:

“What you do outside work can positively influence your confidence at work, according to research by Dr. Ciara Kelly and her colleagues at the University of Sheffield’s Institute of Work Psychology. Specifically, it’s your hobbies – spending an intense amount of time on whatever it is you like to do in your free time (crafting, Dungeons and Dragons, Crossfit) can increase people’s confidence in their capability to do their job well.”

Leisure seriousness

A sustainable career can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask, but as far as the study’s authors were concerned, it’s defined as a career in which employees remain healthy, productive, employable and happy. In other words, a career that fits into one’s larger life context. Once that larger life context begins to dissipate, we begin to lose grasp of our career-oriented objectives as a consequence.

Think of your interest like the negative space that outlines your calling. Some components may seem irrelevant but none of them ever are. Let’s use a recreational fisherman that’s employed as a dentist for a model. If this dentist isn’t particularly imaginative, they might fancy fishing to be a thin and obvious metaphor for pulling a tooth. When work becomes monotonous, they can supplant their forceps for a spin caster in their minds.  This same dentist might find that when they take some time to fish on the weekend before work, they more meaningfully comprehend the value of a day off and therefore wit the necessary work ethic that must attend it. Maybe fishing is more like an abstract transaction; depositing experiences and withdrawing pleasant memories to lean on when work is particularly hectic. Collectively these are helpful allusions to success that command difficult tasks to cow to patience and a steady hand. We don’t have interests, we are our interests. Without them our skills aren’t applicable, like trying to absorb nutrients without a stomach.

This is especially true during the hiring process. In the age of skills, wherein every post-grad is but a carbon slate in the eyes of new-age employers, distinction favors personality: i.e a reserve of hobbies, passions, and taste that lesion to form what we call perspective. This doesn’t mean that you have to explicitly occasion your love of fishing at your next job interview, but if the recruiter pulls the timeworn: “How do you work under pressure?” routine,  Your answer—which would be informed by your treasured hobby, might be something like: “I work best when I’m  pursuing the elusive, intermittently hopeful nature of things.” Of course this is just a cheaply lethargic, Buchanian way of saying I like to sit in a boat and hope that my careful planning and a mindless body of water sync up more times than they don’t, but it will  likely earn you a point more than the guy that said: I work well under pressure because of my degree in working well under pressure. I also minored in punctuality and not taking sick days. Hobbies, interest and taste, in their own way, contribute monumentally to a content and productive employee.

“A high commitment approach to hobbies can help us to build skills and experiences that improve our confidence in the workplace, so is beneficial – as long as the hobby doesn’t interfere with, or place the same demands experienced at work,” explained the Vocational Behavior study’s lead author, Dr. Clara Kelly to Stylist. 

It’s important not to let your work consume you, even if you are one of the lucky few that gets compensated for doing the thing you would be doing if you never had to worry about money ever again. Enjoy your engines of leisure for the sake of a well-rounded, fruitful existence.