The Life-Changing Magic of Hobbies
I remember feeling like an electric jolt went through my entire body.
I checked the Facebook page of the website my friend asked me to write my first article on. A few dozen people “liked” my blog post.
That single moment and a few subsequent moments change my life forever. I started writing as a hobby. I had no intention of building an online business empire as I do now. This little hobby would shift the trajectory of my life and add so many positive benefits along the way.
I can directly tie my hobby of writing to the following:
- Quitting drugs and excessive alcohol — As I got more serious about writing, I stopped wanting to party
- Curing my depression — Before finding writing and personal development, I was going through a sort of seasonal depression in my life. My hobby showed me the light
- Helping me quit my job and finding financial freedom — Again, this wasn’t my original aim, but this is what happened.
- Curing my boredom — I’m not bored very often anymore. I haven’t been for years.
When you have a hobby, something you do outside of the normal milieu, you have something to hold onto.
Your hobby becomes a safe haven for your mind, a place to escape the chaos of the world, and even a path to a real career or business.
There’s just something about concentrating your energy on getting good at something that changes your worldview.
You’re more alive.
You’re more interested in life and because of that, you become more interesting.
You don’t need constant outside stimulation to have fun — Netflix, happy hour, and other distractions.
If you’re feeling directionless, bored, apathetic, depressed, indifferent, stuck, whatever.
Get a hobby and watch your life change.
The Question You Have That You Already Know the Answer to
Finding a hobby you want to try is as simple as doing the thing you already know you want to do. You know what it is. Who cares if other people think it’s “dumb.”
In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to write. As soon as someone gave me an opportunity, I went with it. In your case, you might have to give that opportunity to yourself.
Remember, you don’t need to turn your hobby into some magical business in the future. You could start practicing archery, collecting baseball cards, or playing the guitar.
And if you get serious in the future, almost any hobby can be translated into a career somehow. The magic of the internet makes this all possible.
I digress, though.
Don’t focus on what you can get out of your hobby, just start doing it.
“But Ayo, how do I start and stick with it?”
If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know my answer. No self-help guru alive can force you to do anything. At best, I can point you in the right direction.
You start the thing and keep doing the thing by doing it at intervals that allow you to be consistent without being overwhelming.
For me, I went from writing one post to writing a couple of days a week to getting super serious about it and writing daily.
In your case, it could be once a week. You could sign up for a class that gives you skin in the game by paying for it.
The bottom line: if you take the time out to start doing that ‘little thing’ you’ve been meaning to do, some amazing things will start to happen.
The Simple Mental Shift That Can Change Your Life Forever
I started writing while I was working as a manager at a video store — not the most exciting job in the world. But I always had a little pep in my step because I knew that I’d get to write at some point in the day.
I had something to look forward to.
Once you have something to look forward to outside of your normal day to day existence, the “hamster wheel” cycle you go through with work, errands, and other obligations become easier to deal with.
You have your safe haven now. And it’s a better escape than things like T.V. and partying. You know what to expect with those types of social stimulants.
With your hobby, you’ll experience something new each time you attempt to get better — a little wrinkle of knowledge, the light bulbs that go off in your head, the kind of healthy struggle and stress that comes with developing competence.
When you have something you look forward to doing, all a sudden your boredom goes away. On my off days or before or after work, I’d either be reading or writing. Almost every day, I’d get to experience a feeling that’s as close to happiness as I’ve ever found.
Get High On Your Own Supply
Eastern philosophy says you’re unhappy and anxious because you spend too much time focusing on the regrets of the past or fretting about the future. According to Zen principles, you’re “happy” when you’re in a state of total presence.
Hobbies create this feeling by way of “flow states.”
Here’s a quote from an article I wrote about flow:
Consider the decrease in stress across the board if everyone gave themselves 90 minutes a day to focus on a task. 90 minutes to step out of the whirlwind of life and enjoy the art of doing. Maybe we’d all be a little bit nicer to each other. Maybe the world would be a little better.
Each time you sit down to do your hobby and truly focus, the bullshit of life fades into the background for that period of time. You get some solace.
Many people don’t have any solace in their life. At all. They bounce back and forth between the rat race and mindless stimulation in perpetuity.
The lack of purpose and flow is the true ailment of our society. You can tie almost all societal problems back to it. Find flow for yourself so you can escape the cycles of negativity most people go through.
Kill Many Birds With a Giant Stone
I can’t write when I’m hungover. I write better when I’m healthier. Because I had a hobby that turned serious, I started to adopt healthy habits and ditch toxic words because I wanted to have all cylinders firing during writing sessions.
Often, counterproductive habits fill a void.
I’m not the type to sit on a pedestal and say everyone goes out on weekends and watches T.V. because they have a void in their life. There’s nothing wrong with these things in moderation.
But from personal experience and meeting other serious hobbyists, I’ve noticed that priorities tend to change the more serious you get.
You start to realize that there’s much more to life than the milieu. Develop one hobby that reaches a “tipping point,” and all of a sudden you become interested in all sorts of activities.
I joined a speech club a few years ago to hone my public speaking skills. I have a Youtube Channel. I’m starting to attend different conferences and seminars.
I like to have fun, but my definition of fun has changed. Growth is fun for me. Building things if fun to me. Seeing life as a game and trying to level up my life is fun.
Hobbies are the gateway drug to a life of purpose.
And, yes, your hobbies can also turn into money, freedom, and a full-blown career.
How to Turn Your Hobby Into an Empire
I wrote for free and for fun for about a year. Only after putting in such a consistent effort did it dawn on me — this could be a career.
A year after starting my hobby, I wrote and published my first book. To date, it has only made like $5,000 dollars. Even after I published the book, I still felt like an aspiring writer.
After that, I kept plugging away. I bought courses to refine my skills. I worked on marketing aspects like building an e-mail list. A year later, I published my second book. It did much better. It made real money. After that, I decided I’d become a full-time writer come hell or high water.
It still took a few years after that to turn full-time, about four and a half total, but I never lost the joy of the hobbyist on the way to turning pro.
People often ask my “secret to writing success.” They ask how I write so much, publish to prolifically, and never seem to run out of ideas.
Ready for my secret?
I like writing…
I’ve never had major long-term bouts of writer’s block and I’ve written pretty consistently since the jump. This archetype of the perfectionist, angst-ridden, tortured artist seems pretty foolish to me. I feel like I’m floating on air when I write. That’s why I’m able to stick with it for so long.
I’ve seen people try to make a career out of writing because they think it’s a good way to make money, but they don’t really like it all that much. Why would you do that to yourself?
If you want to beat out the competition, the easiest trick is…to…like what you do.
Naval Ravikant has a saying:
“Find the thing that looks like work to others, but feels like play for you.”
This is why I think most people fail when they try online business. They don’t enjoy it. They’re not wired to enjoy it. Respect your nature and find the things you like. That’s the only way to truly sustain success.
Develop a Lust for Life
My perspective on life has changed so much because of the gateway drug of hobbies.
Often, I’m overstimulated. My brain moves faster than my body. I will die before I begin and master all the hobbies I have in my head.
I’d have it no other way.
Become like me. Turn your life into an adventure. Develop a lust for life. Resurrect the curiosity and joy you had as a child. Be excited about life itself.
Get a damn hobby.
Leave a comment below telling me which hobby you’re going to try and the next step you’re going to take to make it happen as soon as possible.
Ayodeji is the author of You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You. Want a free copy of my first book? Get it here.