The Five Rules to Help You Start and Keep Up with a New Creative Hobby
Number one? Enjoy the process, not the product.
When was the last time you took a minute to do something you loved—not because you had to but because you wanted to? If you're drawing a blank, it might be time to dive back into an old hobby or discover a new one. "So many of my clients feel like hobbies are frivolous, like if you aren't being productive it's a waste of time. But hobbies help to diversify your identity and your confidence," says Melody Wilding, LMSW and career coach. "Getting too much of your self worth from work can be dangerous if something goes wrong, but a hobby offers you a sense of momentum and control." Here are some ways to get started and stay committed to a new hobby.
Enjoy the process, not the product.
It's easy to get swept up in wanting to be good at something, but that's not really what you should focus on. "People put a lot of pressure on finding something they're passionate about. Make the benchmark curiosity and not passion," Wilding says. Holding a hobby to a perfectionist standard doesn't give you the room to be bad at something you enjoy. If you're struggling to figure out what type of hobby to pursue, think about what you find yourself gravitating to on social media or remember what you enjoyed doing as a kid.
Schedule time for it.
Setting aside time or at the very least blocking time out on your calendar so people don't schedule over it is so important. Wilding recommends focusing on doing a little every day and working it into your existing schedule so it becomes routine.
Hold yourself accountable.
Some people find a class that they have to pay for provides them with accountability, Wilding explains. Sinking some financial stake into a hobby can motivate people, so if you can't do a class, even buying supplies can be encouraging or finding a network of likeminded people can help keep you on track.
Remove the guilt.
A lot of people struggle with feelings of guilt if they're taking time to do something they love—but it's time to ditch it. First and foremost, explore your feelings. "Instead of blowing past the guilt, challenge that little voice in your head. Ask yourself how true or how accurate is this response I'm having? A lot of times that inner critic is a voice we internalized from someone else, like a parent, a boss, or a coach," Wilding says. "Reframe that thought and replace it with something more supportive, so something like, my hobby helps build my confidence or helps prevent burn out." Realize that when you take time out for yourself it's setting a good example for your kids, spouse, and other colleagues, so it does serve other people as well.
Don't feel like it has to be a side hustle.
Once you hit your groove with a hobby it can be tempting to monetize it, but think carefully before you do. "I have clients who love art and painting and then they try sell it and all the fun gets sucked out," says Wilding. "Having something that's just for fun and no pressure is very freeing. We have so many obligations already so there's something to be said for doing something just for the joy of it."
Taking time out of your busy schedule can help you in a myriad of ways, from stress reduction to mood elevation. "Overall, it's a way to detach from the craziness of your day to day, and there's a ton of evidence that creativity is good for your health," says Wilding. "Beyond that a lot of hobbies have a social element and can be incredibly meditative." So, give your brain a break: Take some time out and try something new, you never know what good ideas will come to you when you let your brain rest.