Here’s Why You Need 2 Hobbies in Life

Bread and Butter, Roses and Thorns.

March 23, 2017 | Singapore | By Jeng

How agreeable are you with the idea of choosing a job you love and following your passion so “you will never have to work a day in your life”?

I may be an idealist, but this little quotable nugget of wisdom is a little too Utopian for my liking. I’m perfectly aware that despite loving what I do, I still struggle with the snooze button every morning (bad habit) and throw mental confetti when it’s a Friday.

“Never work a day” — do I really want that and is that possible? Perhaps for the purpose of discussion let’s say this is a great aspiration and a sexy retirement plan.

The idealist in me firmly believes do what you love and love what you do, and you’ll meet the people you love and be loved in the right way in return. And this is guided by how we consciously spend our time.

Often, we do what we love in our free time (it could even be 1 hour a week). This is when we start to grow hobbies. No one is really too busy to grow a hobby. Hobbies aren’t frivolous things. There are many good reasons why we need a hobby. Sometimes, hobbies may even develop into a serious business — and when we are at the early stages of our career, we may even turn it into the bread and butter of our lives. We want to learn more, learn from the professionals and be not just good but better.

This is when we see roses in a bed of thorns. I knew it was dangerous to turn a passion (writing) into a money-making tool — but that was what I did anyway. Because I saw the roses, and I wanted to brave the thorns.

And it’s not untrue for many creative professionals. We have a tough love for what we do and we step into the creative industry fully aware it’s a bed of roses and thorns. We know the hours are tough and we know sometimes creativity works like a weak Wi-Fi signal when we need it the most.

Now that my hobby has been turned into a profession, I’m starting to feel the thorns. What now?

Have two hobbies in life. One to make you money and the other to KEEP you happy.

I was having a couch potato Saturday night session with my mom when she dished out a word of advice (that was a few years back).

For an idealist who wasn’t sure if writing for a living is the “right” thing, I think the logic checks out pretty well.

So here’s a penny-worth of thought:

Concerning Hobbies (Not Hobbits)

If you need to love what you do (and do what you love), have at least two hobbies in life. Do them often and do them well.

Hobby 1: Turn it into a job and know you’ll have to make compromises as a professional. You may not be 100% happy with it all the time but you’ll still be relatively satisfied.
Afterall, everyone gets the thorns at work but we get to pick our roses.
Hobby 2: Indulge in your other hobby, nurture it to the best of your (haha unpaid) ability and let it fuel you.

Hobby 1 and 2 may be siblings, cousins or even unrelated strangers. I’m a copywriter. This makes screenwriting a sibling, comic drawing a cousin and yoga a stranger (unless I write about yoga — but I don’t).

Let’s take this to another level. If you’re mortally afraid of metaphors, look away now.

Think of Hobbies as Candles

Candle 1 (work): A candle burning at both ends. But it can’t save itself when one flame burns out. It won’t be long before the other end snuffs out too.

Candle 2 (hobby): It may be burning slowly, perhaps only at night and on weekends — but it can lend some flame to Candle 1. After all, they are housed in the same candelabrum (it’s you).

So yes, I believe hobbies are often more important than we give them credit for. It’s never too late to start discovering one either.

We are Works in Progress

I write 8 hours a day for work (Hobby 1) and illustration (Hobby 2) as a serious hobby is a great way to keep the creative soul satiated. When I can’t write, I draw to keep creating. When I can neither write nor draw, I make music (Hobby 3). When my body is tired from the bad posture I’ve accumulated from doing all of the above, I practise yoga (Hobby 3) in an attempt to keep my mind off all things creative.

Disclaimer: I’m not good in them, I just have to like them enough to commit so I can be better.

A Hobby 2 is just the beginning. How proficient you want Hobby 2 to be, that’s entirely up to you. Nobody becomes a serial hobbyist overnight. You don’t have to be a professional — you just have to invest enough time turn it into a “high-functioning” hobby. Let it contribute to the pool of wellness outside of work. Do that before your retirement and if you are retiring, do that all the same.

Hobbies make us better versions of ourselves (better dance moves, better doodles, better music, better food, better plants, better health and better cognitive functioning).

It’s a bonus when you can share your work with like-minded people and definitely a productive way to pass time. You may even ignite or rekindle a flame in others who used to indulge in the same hobbies. It’s precious when you meet the real professionals who share tips on how to burn even brighter! Sometimes, these professionals are right beside you or separated by a degree of connection.

Working in the creative industry, Hobby 2 and 3 work in tandem to heal a creative burnout and sooth the emotional fatigue that comes with the inability to get “creative” for Hobby 1 — which by now, has become a profession.

Our passions burn with a different kind of fervour when we nurture hobbies that matter to our identity as a person at the current stage of life we’re stuck in ㅡ not just an employee.

But that said, it takes a different kind of commitment to do what you love for a living.

A hobby is a hobby until it becomes a profession or a side job. In the next blog, I’ll talk about why it’s unhealthy to compare yourself to a hobbyist when you’re a professional. Hint: when a hobby becomes work, it is no longer a hobby. Why? Work is not a hobby. It’s a commitment — we make promises and compromises (remember the thorns).

It’s always a gamble when we put our creativity on the resume. But we do it all the same because we need it in our lives. Creative people know they will get creative burnouts because they burn the candle at both ends for the job. But we also get the Creative High (one of those roses).

So here’s to all the people who chose to step into a bed of thorns for all that gleaming roses.

Did you turn your hobby into a profession? What other hobbies do you have — are they siblings, cousins or strangers? What makes you creative outside of work?

Fire your comments away and “Be Our Guest”!

Cheers,

Jeng


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Footnote:

  • This topic came up because recently someone told me “It’s good you like your work and it’s good you have a hobby. I don’t know what I like and work is not the same.”
  • As a writer, I don’t feel inspired all the time. But I can’t wait for AHA moments at work. Sometimes I get stuck in a creative gutter and I’ll have to claw my way out and lie on the bed for half a weekend.
  • When it comes to hobbies, I am guilty of running on bursts of energy. If Hobby 1 is a different beast, Hobby 2 is definitely a different beauty.