Get a Life: Why Having Hobbies Makes You Better at Your Job
Being a creative content strategist means that we show up to work every day, ready to creatively solve problems. Sometimes that means we have the tendency to solve very similar problems over and over again, and that also means we run the risk of falling into a rut by using very similar tactics to solve these same problems.
That’s not a bad thing! There are certainly some methods we swear by — we’ve tested them, pushed them, and made sure that we’re always doing what we’re doing because it’s backed up by data.
But still, having a fresh perspective is incredibly valuable when it comes to problem-solving. We find that outside of work — in our hobbies.
You Should Have Hobbies, Too
You should definitely have at least one hobby. The kind where you have to make something or interact with an experience (which means watching Netflix is a hobby, in my humble opinion . . . but we’ll be talking more about hobbies that involve creating or actively engaging with a material or experience).
Having a hobby opens you up to new experiences, which helps with your brain plasticity. Brain plasticity comes in handy when you’re working on solving a problem because it basically means your brain is more flexible and able to navigate challenges with less stress.
Creative problem-solving involves a lot of imagination. Fast Company says that when you have a variety of experiences, like the kind you can get by exploring a hobby, your creativity gets boosted:
“Creativity and imagination begin with perception. . . . Imagination is like running perception in reverse. The reason it’s so difficult to imagine truly novel ideas has to do with how the brain interprets signals from your eyes. The images that strike your retina do not, by themselves, tell you with certainty what you are seeing. Visual perception is largely a result of statistical expectations, the brain’s way of explaining ambiguous visual signals in the most likely way. And the likelihood of these explanations is a direct result of past experience.”
That’s a heady way of saying that new experiences help you interpret the world more colorfully because a wider base of experiences helps you become more creative.
You’re Going to Fail, and That’s 👌
Let me run something past you.
When you try something new, your chances of failing are pretty high. After all, you aren’t going to be an expert at something right away. But learning to fail well is extremely important to your emotional well-being. If you missed out on that lesson in childhood, or if you just need a refresher (I mean, can’t we all?), then you can count on your friend The Hobby to steer you straight.
Failing is inevitable. You will fail at work, you will fail at home, and you will fail at your new hobby. But with a hobby, the goal is simply enjoyment or progress — so the likelihood that you’ll just brush yourself off after a failure and try again is a heck of a lot higher than in the “real world,” like at home or work.
Fail safely in a small way, and you’re more likely to bravely take chances at work!
You Need to Think Bigger 👉 So You Can Be Happier
Happiness is a crazy cocktail of a ton of different factors. A few of them have to do directly with your hobbies: taking chances and learning more about yourself. Because you probably can’t know what makes you truly happy when you just do the same thing over and over again, forever and ever.
Routine is great, don’t get me wrong, but exploration is extremely important too. And, spoiler: when you get stuck in a rut, you start to find problems in things that used to make you happy . . . like your job.
One of my favorite podcasts, Accidental Creative, has a great take on finding happiness in your career by trying new things:
“Your sweet spot is discovered through active contemplation, not passive reflection. The broader your base of experience, the more patterns you will be able to discern. Some people think that their sweet spot should be obvious, and as a result they waste a lot of time trying to ‘find their passion’ or figure out their optimal career path before diving in. Instead, great contributors begin by adding value wherever they can, then spend time sorting the results later.”
Engaging actively gives you the opportunity to explore different ways you can be happy. See? Getting your hands dirty by trying out a new hobby is good for your personal and professional life!
The Point Is: Go Make/Do Something 👍
Betsy bakes and gardens. Catherine has a side hustle making cool ornaments. John is a smoking meat enthusiast, and Allen has a passion for pencils. We all have something that keeps us interested and engaged in the world.
We do this stuff because it feeds us, widens our horizons, and teaches us about the world we live in so that we can better do the work we love doing.
So what are you waiting for? Go find a hobby!
Does your work culture promote a work-life balance where hobbies are encouraged? It really should — everyone benefits from happier, more engaged teammates. 😊 Learn how to improve your culture right here! 👇