Today, I want to talk with you about finding a hobby. Now, I know that when I say that, there are going to be a lot of men who think, “I don’t have the time. I don’t have the energy. I’ve got obligations, priorities, and responsibilities. I would love to be able to carve out time to do things for me but I just can’t.”
I can understand where that comes from. I’ve been there. I’ve been in situations where I feel like I’ve been up to my eyeballs in activities, duties, and responsibilities. For a long time, for me to carve out any space – emotional, mental, or physical – just seemed impossible.
But, I’m telling you through experience that if you cannot find a way to carve out time for yourself to participate in activities that engage your mind and your body, you are not going to be effective as you could be. And, if you do find a way to be effective under those conditions, it will be for a very short period of time until you eventually burn out. That burn out will place burden and strain on the relationships you know are important. It is so imperative that you find a hobby. And, it doesn’t really matter what that hobby is as long is it engages your mind, hands, back and your body.
I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” And yet, for so many men that’s exactly what they do. They give, and give, and give, and give until they absolutely cannot give any more. I can appreciate that. I can respect that. That said, life is not a sprint; life is a long-term commitment. And, if we want to make it to the end, we’ve got to find a way to take care of ourselves.
We all inherently understand and realize the importance of having a hobby and having friends to spend time with. What I’d like to do is give you some keys, pointers, and tips I’ve used in my life that have helped me find, develop, articulate, and spend time in hobbies and activities that are important to me. Before I get into the five tips I have, I’ll share with you some of my hobbies to get you thinking about some things you may be interested in.
One thing I do once per week is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve been doing that for about two months now. Crossfit is another hobby as well. I know that might fall more in line with fitness but it’s also a hobby for me. In addition to that have a 1500 square foot shop where I do woodworking. It’s been a good experience and it just gets me out of the house and it’s my space. And, lastly, I’ve recently got heavily involved with is archery and bow hunting which has been an amazing outlet.
So, those are a few of the things I do for fun. Now, what you do for fun could be the same or it could be completely unrelated: painting, car mechanics, making and throwing knives, and/or shooting firearms. There are so many different avenues to explore so let’s get into five key points so you too can find a hobby that works for you.
So many men look at what other people are doing and they think they “should” be doing that. I would suggest that you don’t do that and instead, explore broadly. If it comes to your mind and it seems semi-engaging, try it. You might hear somebody playing the guitar and you think you should try that. Yes, you should absolutely try that. That’s the only indicator that it’s worth giving a shot: the fact that you’re even semi-interested in it. So, before you get too deep into one hobby, pigeonhole yourself into one thing, and spend countless hours and thousands of dollars, I would suggest to you that you worry, at first, about exploring broadly. If it comes to your mind, just try it. Just try it.
As important as it is to get good at saying, “no,” it’s also important that you learn to say “yes” to opportunities you just haven’t said “yes” to before. How often do we limit ourselves in our ability to find new activities that are going to be interesting to us because our default answer is “no?” Instead of saying “no” so much, try saying “yes” to potential interests, explore broadly, and try as many things as possible.
You can always weed those things out that aren’t interesting to you after you try them. And, be sure to weed them out very quickly so that you can explore something else sooner. Through that process, you’ll be able to find something that is engaging for you and that you can dive deeper into.
ASK YOUR FRIENDS
Ask your friends, family members, colleagues, and co-workers. Ask them what they do for fun. Maybe they’re into four-wheeling. Maybe they’re into rock climbing. Maybe they’re into gardening. Maybe they’re into grilling. Again, it doesn’t matter what it is. Simply ask other people what it is that they’re doing and then, explore broadly.
One of my friends is getting into oil painting. He does an unbelievable job on his portraits and it’s engaging and interesting to me. I’m going to give it a try. Now, I’m not going to spend thousands of dollars on it. I’m not going to invest a bunch of time, energy, money, and resources into it. I’m just going to give it a shot because it sounds intriguing and I owe it to myself to give it a shot.
Ask the people in your life what they’re doing and if something catches your attention, give it a shot. See what you think. You’re not committing to anything other than trying it.
We live in a world where access to information so much more readily available than any other time in history. You can be reading a book on any topic in a matter of a couple of minutes. If I make a book recommendation to you, you can jump on Amazon, download it to your phone, and be reading that within two minutes on any particular subject. We’ve got YouTube and social media. And, the one that I use quite a bit is Instagram. I use the search function to find all kinds of different hobbies, activities, and interests that sound engaging.
Educate yourself. Learn. Explore. Be curious. The more you can, the more you’re going to find that you gravitate towards certain topics, interests, activities, and discussions. Common themes are a pretty good indicator. Finding common threads should be an alert that you may have found an avenue you should consider exploring. And, again it’s not about pigeonholing yourself; it’s simply giving yourself permission to try everything that comes into your mind.
CARVE OUT THE TIME
Most men are guilty of not doing this. If you are genuinely interested in finding a hobby that’s going to engage you, you’ve got to carve out time during your day to participate in that hobby. Every time I make a post about me working out or going running in the middle of the day somebody inevitably says “Well, wouldn’t that be nice if…” What they’re saying is that they don’t have the time or they don’t think they have the time. Every single one of us has the same 24 hours in the day. It’s just a matter of how we use it. If you can carve out 15 or 30 minutes, or an hour or two out of every week and, if you’re intentional about it, giving that time to a hobby wouldn’t even impact the rest of your life.
As you’re carving out time though, make sure you’re setting a very clear expectation with the people who are going to be affected by the decisions you’re making. For example, if you dedicate Wednesday nights to archery, it would probably be a pretty good idea that you communicate that with your wife and your kids. If you don’t, they’re going to step over that boundary. It’s not that they’re trying to intentionally step over the line. It’s that they don’t even know the line exists.
Part of carving out the time is setting the expectation and communicating it to others. That way, if Wednesday nights don’t work out for the family dynamic perhaps Tuesday nights would be better. It’s extremely important that you are intentional and deliberate about carving out the time of your day and letting everybody know what the expectation is so they’re not stepping over your time commitments.
Also, explain your hobby in a way that helps them see that this is not only advantageous for you but it’s advantageous for them. Explain that if you have time to participate in this hobby, you’ll come back recharged.
Just last, for example, I was having a bad day. I was off mentally. I was out of it. I was in a weird place. My wife recognized that and she said to me “Hey, why don’t you just go for a run?” So, I went for a run and I felt better. It was good for me. She recognized it. She knows that when I take time for myself and listen to a podcast or zone out in my own head for a bit that I come back into the relationship better off. Understand that for yourself and make sure you’re explaining it to the people that you care about.
We’ve talked about exploring broadly. We’ve talked about asking friends what they’re doing. We’ve talked about educating yourself on different ideas, topics, and hobbies you could participate in. We’ve talked about carving out the time. Now, once you’ve tried some new hobbies and you recognize certain ones that are more engaging, it’s time to start diving deep. Now is the time to start investing more time, energy, and resources into mastering that interest.
When I started to get into archery, I didn’t buy the bow immediately. I went out and tested it. I asked some friends who had done archery if I could shoot their bow. In fact, I just had a buddy of mine do the same thing. He called me over the weekend and said “Hey man, I’m thinking about getting into archery. Can I go out with you?” Of course, I went out with him to shoot. I want to share my interests with him. He shot the bow and enjoyed it but didn’t have to invest a lot of time. We were only out there for two hours. We spent some time together, had some laughs, had some good conversations, and did a little archery. He found out that he enjoyed it. Now, he’s going to dive a little bit deeper. He’s going to invest in his first bow, then he’ll likely dive a little deeper and a little deeper and a little deeper.
You don’t want to commit yourself fully to one thing without exploring broadly. But once you’ve done that, then invest the time, energy, and resources. Along with that, I would suggest you invest in conferences, events, and groups that are dedicated to your specific hobby.
For example, I will be in Salt Lake City this week participating in a Total Archery Challenge. I’m diving deeper into it because I enjoy it. I would never have done that two, three, or four months ago but now it makes sense because I realized how much I enjoy it. I realized how much better it makes me and more effective and energized when I come back into the rest of my life.
Gentlemen, I want you to go out. I want you to find a hobby. I see too many guys who are up to their eyeballs in responsibilities and obligations. They’ve just stacked so much stuff onto their plates that they’re just not enjoying life. A friend of mine asked, “If you knew that this sunrise was the last sunrise you’d ever see, how would you live your life today?” As I thought about the answer to that question it was a bit dismal because I’m doing a lot of things in my life that I don’t necessarily enjoy.
How much time are you carving out for yourself? How much are you enjoying life? How much do you smile? How much do you laugh? How much fun do you have with other friends? How much do you just let go of some of those burdens, responsibilities, and obligations from time to time?
I know that last questions is strange coming from me considering we’ve been talking about responsibilities for 3 1/2 years but I want you to be a better man. I want to be a better man myself. In order to do that, we have to unplug from our obligations and responsibilities periodically and systematically so that we can engage in the things that energize, rejuvenate, and uplift us.