Let’s Get Personal
Have you ever met someone and thought “Whoa, that dude really needs a hobby”?
My father is one of those people. Not like he’s wound real tight or incapable of relaxing—quite the opposite, actually. He’s affable, easy going, has a razor-sharp wit, great intuition…and very little life outside of work. Now, the man’s owned his own small business for seventeen years. And I fully understand there’s a certain level of being married to it. But after a health scare and the unwelcome realization that he’s not, in fact, getting any younger, he’s had to come to terms with putting his store up for sale and starting the process of retirement. The problem? My father approaches retirement like he’s admitting defeat. Why? Because the man doesn’t have a personal hobby.
For seventeen years he’s spent as much as 80+ hours a week working at the family store. And yes, he has built a sustainable business in an oppressed region of the state. He’s fostered a sterling reputation among the locals. And he loves (just about) every minute of it. But he never quite mastered the art of developing a life outside of work. Sure, he has interests. He loves old movies and crime novels, antique shops and museums. But he never seems to have the time to fully enjoy them.
Passion Is Key
There’s no doubt my dad has passion for what he does. He wouldn’t be as successful as he is without it. But there’s different kinds of passion. And developing a life outside of work is just as important as loving what you do for a living.
I’ve met so many people, both my own age and my father’s, who feel that spending time on a personal hobby or passion is an indulgence. And one they can’t afford. There’s simply too much to do! Paperwork to catch up on. Phone calls to make. Numbers to crunch. Not to mention household and family obligations.
When was the last time you took time to enjoy a passion of yours? Like really enjoy it? Take a day and go hunting, or try that recipe you saw on TV, or just lounge around in your pajamas and read a trashy romance novel? If you’re sitting there quietly getting flashbacks to that scene in Titanic where an elderly Rose says “It’s been 84 years…”, we know how you feel. It’s hard to make time for the things we don’t get paid to do. But we’re not worker bees programmed to labor until death. And while it might take awhile to realize it, indulging in personal time will actually make your professional time more productive. That personal hobby is important!
Let People See the Real You
The Roman poet Ovid is credited with saying that it’s in our leisure that we reveal what kind of people we are. Ergo, that life outside of work has a lot to say about who you are at work. So don’t be the office drone—share your passion with other people! Are you an art lover? That new exhibition at your local museum might be a great conversation opener at your next networking event. Looking for something more physical? Burning off steam at the gym will not only keep those extra pounds at bay, but help increase focus and lower stress. And didn’t Frank mention needing another guy for the company softball team? Ooh, you bake? Because Nancy in Reception started a cookie swap last Christmas and I heard everyone who participated was overloaded with delicious holiday treats. (You see where I’m going here.)
Cultivating your personal hobby or passion allows you to become involved in something bigger than yourself. You can meet like-minded folks and even make a few new friends. And sharing those interests keeps you young! Why do you think senior citizen activity centers are so popular? Additionally, employers love well-rounded candidates. They understand the pressure of the daily grind, or they wouldn’t be sitting behind that intimidating desk. But you know what really impresses at an interview? The guy or gal who can sit there with confidence, because not only is their resume a testament to years of hard work and grit, but their life outside of work shows time management, a desire to constantly learn more, and you guessed it—passion.
As for my Dad, I’m not too worried. He’s one of those people who’s managed to progress through life staying curious and upbeat. He’ll meet this challenge like any other—head on, with a groan-worthy punchline to boot.