If you were lucky enough, you had parents or other family members who encouraged you to try out as many activities as possible when you were a child. These weren’t always the activities you actually wanted to do; my mother, for example, signed me up for ballet when all I ever really dreamt of was playing the piano. It didn’t take long for me to discover I had two left feet and after hours, days, weeks of pleading, I was finally granted permission to no longer attend those dreaded classes.
For years I never really found anything that interested me enough to stick at it, and simply being a teenager was more than enough to occupy my time. However, our parents had good reasons for wanting us to stick at these activities and, as the years have passed, I have realised more and more the importnt of having a hobby not only for personal development, but also the advantages it can have for our career.
So, what are these advantages?
Setting and acheiving goals
Despite the obvious, having a hobby can help us to set and achieve goals. If, for example, you enjoy running, you can set yourself goals such as running 10 minutes longer than last time, or running the same distance five minutes quicker than usual. Setting and reaching these goals can help make other aspects of your life, including those related to your career, seem much more achievable.
Having a hobby can help put your career into perspective: if you have been experiencing problems at work, they will seem much less oppressing. A hobby can have more confidence in yourself, your determination and your abilities - all of which are transferable to and extremely valuable for your career.
Giving your brain a break from work and pursuing a hobby can also help spark your creativity. Have you ever noticed that it is often whilst you are playing guitar (or partaking in another activity) and thinking about absolutely nothing else that you find the solution to a problem that’s been bugging you for weeks at work? Or you suddenly have an idea for the text to put in an email announcing the launch of a new product?
It’s not a coincidence. There is evidence to prove that giving your brain a break and spending time doing things you enjoy has an important effect on creative thinking.
In an experiment carried out by Dr. Kevin Eschleman and his colleagues at the San Francisco State University, two different groups were tested: those with a creative hobby were more likely to be helpful, collaborative, and creative with their job performance.
Eschleman also added that those with a hobby also felt more relaxed and in control:
"The results indicate that organizations may benefit from encouraging employees to consider creative activities in their efforts to recover from work. Creative activities are likely to provide valuable experiences of mastery and control, but may also provide employees experiences of discovery that uniquely influence performance-related outcomes."
Having a hobby also makes you more relatable. Once others know that, for example, you play volleyball three nights a week, they are more likely to ask you questions about your hobby, which is likely to lead to more meaningful conversations. This will help forge stronger relationships with your coworkers, customers or associates, and we all know the importance having a good network can have for your career.
In conclusion, having a hobby is important for your career as not only does it allow you to set and acheive goals more easily, there is also scientific evidence to prove that it can help spark your creativity and improve your relationships with coworkers, customers and associates. So what are you waiting for? Summer is a better time than any to sign up for a new activity and give your career a boost!