When to keep a hobby and when to skip?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by jonpeter, May 8, 2015.

  1. jonpeter macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2013
    So, my question (as you can tell), is open ended...

    I'm 22 and I'm trying to learn how to usefully allocate my time according the hobbies/interests that are worth my time and trying to avoid wasting my time on things that do not enhance or actually play into my life (SCII is still addicting... haha)

    Realistically, I like to read, run, cook, and misc. others. I know I can apply all these disciplines to my every-day life.

    On the other hand, one example my side interests is IOS/swift programming. I like the challenge but also the creativity portion to this. However, I am a food industry management major and do not have a real use for this skill.
    I assume that learning a new skills is what I enjoy, but I go back and fourth regarding the true utility of this programming skill in my life... I'm either motivated or not.

    So, since I've had trouble deciding on an answer myself, i thought i would ask the community.

    how have you guys decided what hobbies/interests are worth your time (or not)?
    how do you spend your time on hobbies/interests that do not influence your daily lives? how do you keep them up?
  2. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Are you trying to say that you have a hobby (that you apparently like), but you wonder if you should have that hobby, when it has no obvious connection to your future life?
    That takes you down the rabbit hole to a possible life of drudgery, where you can't enjoy outside activities that aren't (somehow) related to your chosen profession.

    I have a friend who runs a restaurant. He also paints beautiful water colors.
    The painting has no apparent connection to cooking/customer service - but the painting process is a great stress reliever, at least for him! Maybe you can look at your programming talent in a similar light.
  3. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    By how much I enjoy doing it.

    For instance, I play bass guitar for fun. I'm not interested in playing in clubs as part of a band. I just love the unique pleasure of hitting the right note at the right time. It can be done in my spare time, during any part of the day when I feel the urge and have the free time.

    Writing code could be enjoyed in a similar way.
  4. jonpeter thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2013
    Although critical, I appreciate your touch of reality in your first statement.
    I enjoy programming as a challenge, but I wonder if programming is the best way to approach an intellectual challenge. I chose programming most likely because I am most familiar with the subject.
  5. A.Goldberg, May 8, 2015
    Last edited: May 8, 2015

    A.Goldberg macrumors 68020


    Jan 31, 2015
    A hobby is only a hobby if you actually enjoy it. Otherwise it is a chore.

    You never know when your hobbies or other skills might intertwine with your career path. For example, who's to say you cannot use your programming skills to develop a food management related software program?

    I'm a clinical pharmacist. I enjoy sailing. The two have nothing to do with each other. I can't imagine building any connection between them (drugs and boats?) Sailing for me is fun, relieves stress, and makes me forget about work. Not to say I don't enjoy my work, but sometimes it's nice to step away and clear my head.

    Like most things in life, it's all about moderation and balance. You must balance your time and resources. You must moderate work and play. It's up to you to decide what you value and enjoy. For me, sailing is time consuming and expensive. While watching TV is enjoyable enough for me and relatively cheap, I don't find the overall benefit on my life to be that great. With that in mind, I don't spend much time doing it. When I say "benefit on my life", that does not mean my job- it means it just does not "stimulate me" to any great extent. Who is to say you can't have more than one hobby? I also like exercising, swimming in particular as I used to competitively swim for years. I don't feel like I have enough time to compete these days given my other responsibilities, but swimming some laps a few times a week is affordable both financially and temporally.

    Becoming overly obsessed with your career is usually never a good thing. I've had points in my life where everything revolved around my school/work/career. Neglecting things you enjoy in place of work is detrimental to your mental health, relationships, other responsibilities, etc. Work is important, but it cannot be the sole reason of your existence. American culture loves to focus in on your career goals and how to get there. It's expected you get from point A to point B in a straight line. K-12 schooling is all about college. College is about careers. Careers are all about promotion (in many fields). We define ourselves by our jobs- if someone asks "Tell me about yourself" the first thing out of the respondent's mouth is what they do for work. This does not have to be your reality though.. and it's not for much of the world.

    There is no right answer to this. I believe everyone needs to be stimulated in multiple ways (creatively, physically, artistically, musically, intellectually, romantically, spiritually, socially, etc), each to different extents, varying upon the person. Do what you enjoy, regardless of its relation to your career.
  6. Scepticalscribe, May 9, 2015
    Last edited: May 9, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Some very good posts, here and some very good advice, too.

    Since I was a child, I was fascinated by history and later, in my early teens, an abiding and passionate interest in politics grew alongside that early interest in history. These were the fields I later studied (along with law), the fields I taught, and the fields where my expertise is still called upon in a professional setting. I loved - and love - the fact that I get paid to research (and teach) and write about and brief on, stuff that fascinates me.

    For that matter, I'm the kind of person that visits museums on my holidays, and old cities.

    However, once a fascination with and expertise in history and political matters became my profession, I found I also needed other - entirely unrelated matters - just to 'switch off' and explore an entirely different set of interests.

    As it happens, I like the world of food and drink, and - over the past decade and a half - have developed and interest in the Slow Food movement and artisan beers and wineries.

    In fact, I - who used to dislike cooking, seeing it as an extension of housework, which I loathe, and detest, both for its unending tedium, and for the assumption that women should automatically want to do it, - have developed an interest in and a serious pleasure in cooking (and sourcing and shopping for food). Physically, I find it relaxing, and I actually really enjoy cooking an excellent meal and playing host. I also enjoy the physical experience of souring high quality products, getting to know the producers', and - when I am home - shopping at the organic stalls in the ancient local farmers' market (the licence for which goes back to medieval times) is one of the things I take most pleasure in.

    Hobbies are new interests from what you do in your daily, or professional life (even if the latter interests and engages you) , allowing you to meet different people, explore something entirely new, develop a different set of skills. It doesn't have to lead to a professionally useful skill, although it can, in time. It is nice to try out a somewhat 'different you', or explore a different side of yourself which is what hobbies often allow.


    Excellent and thoughtful post from A. Goldberg, by the way, and well worth heeding.
  7. maflynn, May 9, 2015
    Last edited: May 9, 2015

    maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If a hobby becomes an obsession, is it really a hobby? There's a difference between perhaps going to the horse track and spending 20 bucks because you enjoy the thrill vs. dropping your entire paycheck. I'd say the latter is not a hobby at that point.

    My example is extreme, but it highlights the point I'm making. If you enjoy it, and it has positive benefits your welfare and quality of life then why stop. If it starts invading all areas of your life then perhaps its not that healthy and you may want to reevaluate your priorities.
  8. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    It's real simple. If you enjoy it and you can afford it, then you keep it. If not, then skip.
  9. illusionx macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2014
    Brossard, QC
    Also see a hobby as a great opportunity to go out to meet and interact with more people. I think programming would come as an interest rather than a hobby.
  10. 63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    For me, a hobby is an escape and does not have to relate to the rest of my life. For a brief period I liked fooling around with computers then I fixed them and made (and make) money but other than that hobbies are not related to work.

    So I fix computers and that's a job/career but hobbies are playing music/singing/writing music and model building.

    With music I don't get paid and sometimes I play out but that's as a volunteer for rest home or open mic nights at the pub. I was in a band that played at a brewery and we got paid but then we felt stressed and it wasn't fun anymore and felt like a job, not the escape that it is. That one fairly well paid gig was 20 years ago and have never thought about doing that paid thing since. Being a musician has been in my life for 35 years so it's basically become so much of who I am, even though I don't get paid, that it defines me more than being a computer professional.

    As for model building, there's model boats and model trains. I don't have too much crossover between that and being a computer repair person other than dealing with small stuff that is sometimes hard to see. When I am model building, I am completely focused on that and I don't think about fixing computers for a living which is the point of a hobby. Model building has been with me for 20 years.

    The very nature of escape is why I keep these two primary hobbies and the fact they are not related to making money is why I keep them in my life.
  11. zmunkz macrumors 6502a


    Nov 4, 2007
    Depends what you are looking to accomplish. A hobby to separate your free time from work definitely needs to be something you enjoy in the moment, and it doesn't matter so much if it doesn't lead anywhere.

    If you are more of the self improvement type, I would encorouge you to delve into non-fiction as a general hobby. If you are constantly learning and sharpening your knowledge, you will start to see opportunities around you, and have the confidence to grab them.
  12. jonpeter thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2013
    I appreciate all the answers, everyone. I am definitely starting to lean heavily towards reading, as the post above me has mentioned, and I greatly enjoy self-improvement. For the summer, this is where I plan on spending my time. Im re-reading "How to win friends and influence people" by Carnegie currently and can't get enough.
  13. anjinha macrumors 604


    Oct 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    I agree with everyone here. A hobby doesn't have to be something that relates to your career or even something useful (although making something useful can be very satisfying).

    Just as an example, I work in tech support. I sit in front of a computer all day so while learning to program would be very useful for my career there's only so much time that I can stand to be looking at a computer screen. I would like to learn programming at a certain point, I think it would be a fun challenge, but when I get home and want to relax I also need to do something that is further away from what I do all day.

    So I knit, I cook and I read.

    Cooking is very useful, since we end up spending a lot less money on food compared to eating out, but it doesn't relate to my job at all.

    Knitting can be very mindless and relaxing but it can also be very engaging and creative. Again, it doesn't relate to my job at all.

    Reading helps me get out of my own head. Most books I read also don't relate to my job at all.

    They all fulfil the purpose of helping me relax and have fun. :)
  14. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Until a few years ago, I didn't really have a hobby. Then I decided to try photography as a way of getting out at weekends.
    I had no idea how much I would get out of it and enjoy it (let alone invest in it!)

    If you enjoy doing something that helps you relax, then that alone will help your career, even if the hobby is seemingly unrelated.

    A happy worker is a productive worker. If I haven't managed to shoot at all at the weekend, then Monday mornings are always more depressing.
  15. natsinicky macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2014
    I have a few hobbies that I alternate between. When I get tired of one, I'll flip to another. One of my hobbies that is constant is amazon/ebay selling. I've been active with those for a long time. But I'll switch between reading/writing/watching tv/movies/ video games/ music alot.
  16. Cloudsurfer macrumors 65816


    Apr 12, 2007
    I usually skip a hobby if it becomes financially unsustainable or if the investment is too big to justify.

    I try not to select hobbies on how they can enrich me, but on what I love to do. As an engineer, that mostly comes down to fixing and building things around the house. I also like to game a lot, preferably with a compelling story (to make up for the lack of reading books :D), but mostly just for entertainment.

    An exception to the rule, I guess, is video editing, which I think of as making memories (I edit videos from our trips abroad). I enjoy the editing process, but I also enjoy watching our movies years later and reliving our experiences. It's something that's really important to me.
  17. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Hobbies are for fun. It does not matter what it is. Do it as long as you enjoy it and it's not too great a financial burden, nor interfering with your personal/social life.
  18. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Again, as others have mentioned hobbies should be something that you do not do in your everyday work life, irrespective of whether your work life is something you love doing (as mine has always been), endure, or detest.

    In common with others here, (such as anjinha) I am also an avid reader, and while I read a lot on politics and history, I also read quite a bit in areas that have nothing whatsoever to do with any of my work lives.

    That is how I got into reading fantasy literature (which my father used to hate to see me doing)- it was a form of mental relaxation, and a means of 'switching off' from every day life.

    Same with photography, as Apple fanboy has mentioned; an easy and enjoyable hobby, where you can escape on your own terms.

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