What we do outside of work can often attribute to our success at work. Being in public service is extremely rewarding in many ways but I do not have to tell you that it comes with its stresses too. Maintaining a healthy level of stress has many positive benefits but there is a thin line between healthy and negative stress which we all cross from time to time.
The way that I have always handled excess stress is through my hobby. There are many health benefits to having a hobby and it is also good for making friends, building confidence and cultivating other skills that you may not get to work on as much at work. Let’s take a look at why having a hobby is important:
5 Reasons Everyone Should Have a Hobby
- Creativity: Most hobbies require creativity and developing creativity through a hobby can transfer directly into creativity at work. There are not many ways on the job to develop creativity and this skill is extremely important in today’s business world. In job interviews I always ask people what they do for fun because it provides great insight into their personality, creativity and passion.
- Confidence: Hobbies build confidence because being good at something and learning something new is very rewarding. Job roles and responsibilities change so often we are often faced with learning new things. The confidence you gain from challenging yourself in your hobby can help prepare you for learning new things at work.
- Reduce Negative Stress: Getting caught up in something you enjoy doing is great for relieving stress because it refocuses your mind on something that you enjoy. Hobbies that require some level of physical activity also create chemical changes in our body that help reduce stress but even if your hobby does not require physical activity you can still benefit. Getting a break from stress at work and doing something you enjoy can rejuvenate the mind and help better prepare you to handle the challenges in the future.
- Socialize: The internet provides endless ways to connect with people that enjoy doing the same things that you do. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, discuss your hobby and get more involved with bigger groups. Many of my best friends are people I have met through my hobbies and it is an easy way to make new friends when you travel or move to a new area. It is also a great way to make friends at work and in similar jobs at different organizations.
- Personal Development: I talked about creativity and confidence already but the personal development does not stop there. I currently work in technology and it is because of my hobby that I ended up here. I learned many skills, such as video/photo editing, writing, photography, web design, etc… that were a complete byproduct of my hobby. This will happen to you too. You may end up running a local club, maintaining a website, creating flyers, helping with fundraisers, etc… These all translate into real skills you can use on the job.
Tips on selecting a hobby
If you do not already have a hobby or if you are looking at trying something new, there are a couple things to keep in mind. When you select a hobby you want to consider the following:
- Challenging: Find something that is progressively more challenging but does not have such a huge learning curve that it will be years before you see any progress.
- Focus on Strengths: It is a good idea to focus on something that you have some natural ability at. If you are scared of heights you would not try rock climbing and if you don’t like being outside you probably would not take up mountain biking. Take into account your fitness level, finances, education and passion when choosing a hobby.
- Stress: Take into consideration the level of stress that the hobby has. One of my hobbies is playing Texas Hold’em which has great qualities (see 15 Things Texas Hold’em Taught Me About Leadership) but it is a very high stress game. I have to balance that hobby with another one that has a lower level of stress.
Getting past the beginner stage of a hobby can be stressful but it does not take as long as you might think. One of the books that I really liked that talks about how to learn new things fast is The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman. More info can be found here: http://www.first20hours.com/
What is Your Hobby?
If you already have a hobby that you would like to share please post in the comments section. If you have a hobby that you enjoy but do not dedicate enough time to it, hopefully this post will convince you to rethink that. Who knows, you may find another GovLoop member with the same hobby and make a new friend!
I mentioned that I like to play Texas Hold’em earlier and I still play that from time to time but the hobby that I have done since I was a kid is aggressive inline skating. I am definitely pass my prime but can still get out there and hang with some of the younger skaters every now and then. Here are some pictures from the thanksgiving holidays sporting my GovLoop shirt.
Tim Howell is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.
Great post, Tim! First off, awesome pics — looks like a ton of fun! For me, one of my favorite hobbies is running and I help motivate myself by signing up for races — I just completed a half marathon in October and signed up for another in March. Running is definitely challenging, it reduces stress, and is a great way to meet people outside of work!
@MatthewGarlipp Running is great!
I tried it but unfortunately my knees are not all that great from the thousands of falls over the years. I was Mountain Biking for a while but have not kept to it as much as I like.
Great job on the half marathon! I imagine the feeling from accomplishing that is amazing.
These photos are the best photos to ever appear on GovLoop.com.
Sounds like GovLoop needs to do a photo contest.
AWESOME post. Thanks for sharing and for rocking a GovLoop T-shirt!
Thanks for the reminder that we all need an outlet. I really like the personal development aspect that you brought in.
Love the t-shirt!
Great post. Great pictures, though the middle one looked scary and my first thought when I saw it was-no helmet!
Thank you for sharing the pics!
Thanks! Yeah, I wear a helmet sometimes but probably not as often as I should…
I find canoeing is very relaxing
I also do a 5K from time to time, which the training, as someone else mentioned, is also a GREAT stress reliever.
EEEEK I have a blog drafted that is almost identical to this… although it involves dogs!
I did a search beforehand and was surprised that I did not find anything already out there. Hopefully you can make it work. I think it is an important topic that is often overlooked. My hobby was the reason I got into technology in the first place and the number one contributor to any creativity I developed growing up. Not to mention all of the trouble it kept me out of in my youth, ha.
Have a great weekend!
Training and living with 4 big dogs is one of my hobbies. They are great company also, provide a level of security, and two of them watch TV with me. I also garden, love reading, working puzzles, walking on the greenway and riding my sister’s horses. Life after 60 is great!
My hobby is horses! I love it and once I get started talking about it – it is hard to stop me!
Love the skating pics and the blog.
Good to be reminded to have healthy outlets – especially over the holiday season.
Horses are like potato chips…you can’t stop at just one! 🙂 That’s why I have 4!
I have followed my passions for horses and helping other by volunteering with a local theraputic riding group. It is unbelievablly beautiful to watch developmentally challenged kids grow and blossom with the help of a horse.
Horses are awesome. One of my mentors early on had a couple horses and I took one for a spin :). Unfortunately, I was wearing a colored beanie that flew off and spooked the horse so I did not get to ride for very long. They are incredible animals.
My hobby is training my golden retriever for obedience and agility trials, and I have a new puppy that will be following in the older one’s footsteps. Think dog training sounds hard? Nope. It’s training the person how to train their dog that is difficult. The person must learn about training, and then training the dog is a sinch. Therefore, me learning how to train a dog years ago was a different challenge that I had never experienced and one that I love to do now and share with others.
Also, my husband and I recently bought a house and moved. I proudly wore my GovLoop t-shirt b/c it is awesomely soft and comfortable. That shirt is a keeper!
TENNIS – is my hobby. Nice article
This was a great post Tim and I enjoy reading your blogs. Great air shots by the way!!!!
I have been a volunteer firefighter for about 29 years now. Doing this for a hobby has helped me learn patience, understanding, teamwork, hardwork, compassion, foresight, as well as hindsight, and that its not what you say generally, but how you say it. I’ve learned there are a lot of tough breaks out there but Ive also learned that in order to do this job, I cant take it personal. We have to go in with the mindset that we are going to change things, we are going to work really hard to make it better. The times when we cant, we cant take it personal.
I have also learned to go the extra mile. To not give up and to help others not give up. Just one more time! We can do this! Ive met some great people during my public service and God willing I will be able to continue my service for quite some time to come since I am only 50. You are right that we all need an outlet. I hear some people talk that they go home from work, get their meal prepared, sit and watch television for a couple hours on the couch and then head off to bed. BORING! I guess Ive been doing this since I was 14 years old and just cant imagine anything different. I have a lot more good to do…so off I go! 🙂
Hi Tim—I really enjoyed your article, as well as, photographs. Thank you for reminding us of the importance to make time for ourselves. Inline skating gives you an amazing opportunity to soak in the magnificent treasures of the outdoors. I enjoy walking, running, and lifting weights.
I started studying the Latin language in 2007, and have tried to stay diligent with it since. I can read a bit of medieval Latin now, though I still need a Latin dictionary app on my phone from time to time. I’ll never be great at it, but it’s nice knowing I can read something a thousand years old in the language as it was written. Since then, I’ve dabbled in the vocabularies of other archaic languages, including Old English and Ancient Greek. The rewards for such languages are myriad, if not immediately obvious. I’m totally in agreement with you on the value of hobbies!
My hobby is general fitness and staying active, I love daily gym sessions and during the non-freezing months I like to run 5k’s as much as I can. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time as usual lately because it’s my last semester of my MPA program and extremely hectic. This post has inspired me though to get back to what I love, and seeing as I’m wrapping up my last couple assignments I may start as early as tomorrow. Thanks for the push!
GREAT article, thanks so much! I took up scuba diving 3 years ago and now I plan a dive vacation every year. It gives me a positive goal to work towards throughout the year, it’s great exercise, and a definite challenge (lugging around the tank and weights). The result: I always lose a few pounds, I get to travel to places I thought were beyond my reach (Utila is my favorite!), and I get to experience an incredible “hidden” universe! There are colors I never knew existed and no way could any man or woman ever create, or even imagine, the beauty that is under the ocean’s surface! Yep, I highly recommend scuba – I just wish it hadn’t taken me 54 years to finally do it!
Wonderful pictures. I wondered about the helmet as well, but that’s probably my parent side talking.
I have two main hobbies, luckily they complement each other. One is cooking. I cook most of the meals at our house and I also make my own granola, bread (with a breadmaker mostly), yogurt, and most recently kombucha. During the summer I make jams and sometimes pickled vegetables. My other hobby is triathlon which is great for the exercise and working off yummy food. Training for a triathlon, especially an half or full ironman, requires project planning, time management, and change management skills. The training cycle for an Ironman is anywhere from 12 to 26 weeks, but really the training goes on for 11 months out of the year. The training has to be structured so that I can make gains and get faster. Thus the planning aspect. Plus it’s fun learning about how to stress the body to get it to adapt and get faster. I’ve had personal records in the past year in a marathon and half marathon and qualified for olympic distance nationals. Not bad for a 58 year old aspiring athlete. All the training can be stressful, especially physically, but I find that I often come up with good ideas or solve work related problems when I’m out on a run or bike after work.
My hobbies are railroad and post office history. I have the Railway Mail Service Library at the historic Boyce, Virginia, railway depot. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by! If you’re distant, please check http://www.railwaymailservicelibrary.org Happy holidays!
I like rocks. :o) What began as an occassional search for agates along Lake Superior, turned into many organized field trips throughout the Midwest. I joined a mineral club and am continually learning about the hidden gems around us. A truly relaxing hobby that helps to tune out anything remotely work-related.
Awesome pictures. I don’t skate but you make it look so much easier and fun that I might be starting to consider skating as a hobby. I run to stay healthy and calm. When I run, I feel my body, mind, and soul moving forward together away from mundane stressors.
Thanks for reminding me that life is more than what we do at work for a pay-check. There are other areas in our lives that need attention. My real hobby is photography.
Hey, Tim –
Great post! Agreed. I have found the development of personal hobbies and other creative endeavors outside of work to be an excellent way to stay balanced, invigorated, perform better at the office, meet people and so many other natural benefits. One of my personal passions is music and songwriting. When writing a song, there are essentially no rules – it just needs to resonate at some level with a human experience. But, how it gets built and communicated is wide open. This helps one think outside the box. Fun stuff.
Enjoyed your post. And, cool pics, too! Thanks for sharing.
That is a cool hobby. What do you do with the songs you write?
My main hobby is cycling (road and mountain). I log an average of 5,000 miles each year, which includes my daily commute and weekly grocery shopping. My car only gets used for long trips or for those that require me to lug more than I can fit on a bicycle.
I also enjoy reading and have a fairly large library that includes fiction, history, philosophy, and some classic literature.
Great hobbies! I definitely have some things to add to my bucket list. I appreciate everyone sharing.
I paint – it raises funds for 2 charities I support, and also relaxes and destresses me. Its also really good for my mental wellbeing! They are mainly paintings of video games (which I also play) and they are all done to commission. Pictures of my paintings are here: http://www.canvasandpaints.co.uk
This is awesome post. Well thought-out.
I believe that having a good hobby does help keep you away from night clubs and sinful stuff.
For me, I’m into Radio Control (RC) model aircraft. And just recently I started learning the hot sport of FPV (First Person View) Drone Racing.
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