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10 Business Skills I Developed by Having a Hobby

10 Business Skills I Developed by Having a Hobby

It all begins with an article that refreshed my views on the importance of having a hobby in my life. Yesterday, I somehow stumbled across 150+ Hobby Ideas Broken Down by Interest and Personality by Hubpages.com. There is not a hobby category I have not at least tried. In some succeeded and in others failed miserably. From a young age my parents always encouraged me to try new things. Jigsaws and Legos were always part of my life. So were all types of team and individual sports, collecting stuff, building models, DIY around the house and playing the guitar. Wow, they do seem a lot, now that I am refreshing my memories.

Tried a lot of different hobbies? Is that a bad thing?

By now you might think of me as person who is unreliable, who gets bored easily and can dump things midway?

Or you think of me as a person who is never satisfied with limits, always like to be challenged and is not afraid to fail? Two totally different perspectives!

Is having a hobby important?

Let’s look at some numbers and decide for ourselves. According to the following Statista data, people on average (at least in the USA) spend from 4 to 8 hours per day on leisure time:

Average hours per day spent on leisure and sports by U.S. population by age from 2010 to 2014*
Hours per day Total, 15 years and older 15 to 19 years 20 to 24 years 25 to 34 years 35 to 44 years 45 to 54 years 55 to 64 years 65 to 74 years 75 years and older
2010 5.18 5.69 5.34 4.4 4.17 4.66 5.24 6.85 7.69
2011 5.21 5.98 5.09 4.24 4.23 4.69 5.55 6.9 7.39
2012 5.37 5.86 5.55 4.42 4.27 4.81 5.59 7.1 7.68
2013 5.26 5.61 5.22 4.3 4.12 4.65 5.7 7.13 7.48
2014 5.3 5.74 5.45 4.34 4.1 4.75 5.45 6.94 8.02

All further information on this statistic can be found at Statista

Logically, as we grow older, the time spent hobbies continuously falls. At least until we get to retirement. But interestingly, we tend to spend 20% of day on leisure time. Every day!

But than I went further – what are the hobbies? Reality check!

having a hobby in the USA

Watching TV leads by a large margin, followed by reading books and using the computer. These results were expected, but not something we would like to admit. What does having a hobby such as watching TV say about our societies? We are lazy, boring and do not take proper care of ourselves.

What having a hobby really means?

The modern lifestyle gives us a generally materialistic purpose. We exchange our time for possessions. This in turn gives us the ability to fulfill our physiological and psychological needs. Capitalism is the creator of competition in every field of the societal circles and no one can be immune to the ever present pressure.

We spend at least one third of the day on exchanging our time in the form of work (and probably a lot more if we add the commuting time, overtime, weekends and just thinking about work). Another third goes to sleeping, resting, eating and other physiological needs. So we are left with less than 8 hours to do stuff we want. Or are we?

In that final third of the day, we run errands and do many other tasks that we are not passionate about. So that leaves us with less than 4 hours to do what we really want. Now a hobby is exactly that – doing an activity purely for the pleasure and personal satisfaction. During this time, we forget all that modern life is doing to us and try to simply enjoy ourselves.

Amazingly, science has had a lot to say about this limited time. The hobby is purely done from passion, so it assumes the last section of Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

What a man can be, he must be. – Abraham Maslow

Maslow's Heararchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Source

Being self-actual gives the human being a sense of purpose and meaning to life.

Now the fun part!

10 Business Skills I Developed from Having a Hobby

The benefits of having a hobby go far beyond individual happiness and joy. Although we might not seem aware of these “intangible” benefits, they do shape our personality. In my personal case, having a multitude of hobbies has helped me develop some amazing skills. Using them is only limited to our creativity!

1. Communication

Hobbies exist in a community gravitating around a common interest. Although some activities are not directly social, they integrate an extensive amount of communication. Just think of all the time you have spent talking/writing/chatting with like-minded individuals.

Interestingly, we are rarely aware that these people come from different cultures, have different interests and are part of different social circles. Each of them brings specific attributes to communication. Refresh your memories – have you ever though of communication as something more than a means to an end? When talking about hobbies, there is no pressure, just fun and entertainment. So communication seems very easy.

Tip: When communicating under pressure, try to imagine the calmness and effectiveness you always employ when communicating with your peers.

2. Presentation

Many hobbies revolve not just around conducting activities and collecting items. Showcasing is essential. One way or another, you spent time perfecting the display, adding showpiece items and showing off unique features. Is this also not the purpose of a business presentation?

By not having any, or little, repercussions on you activities, you tend to express the best outcome possible. No pressure, just passion!

Tip: Refresh your memories and use some of the tricks you have unconsciously learned for your next presentation deck.

3. Leadership

Great efforts go a long way in any social circle. By achieving results, doing things better than before, sharing and caring for your colleagues, you develop leadership skills. Does it bring you joy when someone achieved an awesome result with your help? Does this motivate you do achieve even more?

Tip: Try being open to sharing and compassion with your work colleagues as well. 

4. Goal orientation

Achieving milestones is awesome. It is even better when we do them out of pure joy. Having a hobby demands some type of goal setting and completion. You want to enlarge the collection, or have more time to practice, or be present at more gatherings.

Goal orientation also means planning skills. No goal can ever be achieved without the proper management of resources, no matter if material or non-material. This is where you develop the skill of combining all aspects of what it takes to get stuff done. We need that in business also! Right?

Tip: Look into how you have set your hobby goals so far. What can you learn from the experience?

5. Competition

Most hobbies require having a competitive spirit. It is one thing for you to be born with such a talent, and totally another to nurture and evolve this trait. By competing outside of work you gain the following positive experiences:

  1. Delivering results under pressure
  2. Being confident in you abilities
  3. Having the urge to win
  4. Coping with loosing
  5. Self-evaluation and improvement.

Wow! All these things with just competing in your hobby! Don’t you thing that some (or each of them) would be useful tomorrow at work?

Tip: Manage professional drawbacks the way you manage loosing a match. Focus on your goal and understand that failure is part of the learning process. 

6. Sales

Sales is all about finding the right customer and identifying their needs. How on earth could this skill be connected with my hobby?  The story goes:

Playing pool as a hobby has taken up much of my leisure time during the last 5+ years. I trained hard to achieve my goals. Soon results started coming in, confidence started to rise and I liked it even more. A business opportunity was on the lookout. What if I could sell my skills in the form of lessons?

Interestingly enough, with the help of the local club and friends, we created the first Pool School in our country. This was the easy part. The hard part was trying to push this new idea to the market. How do you identify the needs, where is the market located, will it pay enough, how do we reach them, what do we say? Long story short, we outdid ourselves, despite all the ups and downs. Plus I walked out of there with some improved sales skills.

To do: Think of the last time you tried to sell something that is connected to you hobby? How did the process go? Can you use some of that experience in your profession?

7. Analysis

Analysis is the method of dissolving something into smaller elements/subjects. This is how we get a better understanding of the big picture. You could probably relate this method to the beginning phases of your hobby. Doing a lot of research about the details, participants, communities, relevant resources, communicating with leaders and so on. All of these actions contribute to a better comprehension of the activity you have chosen. Analysis drastically improves your chances of getting better.

Tip: Try to use you hobby research methods next time you need an analysis needed for work.

8. Patience

Learning a new trait takes time. It is riddled with both positive and negative outcomes. The sheer passion was your only motivation to sustain such drawbacks, especially when you were starting out your hobby. By exercising such permanent action, you become focused on the outcome. This is precisely the art of patience – being ready to invest time and resources for the greater future benefit.

Tip: Next time you seek immediate results just think of your hobby – the greater input, the longer it takes, but the bigger the outcome.

9. Time Management – Productivity

Would’t you spend all day doing your hobby? Yet always reality kicks in, you have to go to work or take care of chores. Your need to have quality time doing your passions makes very good at developing another skill – time management.

By planning in advance, you get the most of your time. The resources are used in the best possible way, your time is limited, but the goal is always achieved – you have fun. This is where you might say – “..but this is my hobby, not my job..” That is correct, but time management can be used in every part of you life.

Tip: Try to plan your workday just as you plan you hobby time.

10. Financial Management

Finally we come the finances. Most hobbies do require some amount of financial contribution. Whether it is in buying items for your collection, visiting events, purchasing equipment and many activities, money can seem like huge constrain.

We rarely think of how we manage all the constraints. Planning a hobby budget, exercising discipline, saving strategies or even selling part of the collections to sustain the passion are all segments of financial management. The next time you consider yourself to suck at finances, just look at how well you manage your passion.

Tip: Think of financial management as a tool that will help you have even more fun. Or be better at your job. 

The outcome of having a hobby

By now we should become more confident in our abilities. Although life is not easy, think of the moments that make you happy. A hobby provides the escape route of modern problems. But having a hobby is more than just being happy. It contributes to your set of skills and makes you better at everything you do.

Some of the main benefits of having a hobby are:

  1. Increased level of happiness
  2. Stress relieve
  3. Better productivity
  4. Improved self confidence
  5. Mental and physical health

A clear winner among the benefits (that is not part of the list) is

stepping out of the comfort zone

You read that right! Something that makes us all afraid – to try new things, venture into the unknown, fail, fail some more, but persist. By listening to the inner voice, you chose to do something that might seem odd to others. You invested resources for the ultimate goal – happiness.
Dear readers, this is exactly what you should be most proud of! Continue with the mindset and use you skills for different purposes.
Till next time!

Further Reading

Investing Yourself When There is Nothing Else

Investing Yourself When There is Nothing Else

This is the story of how I understood investing yourself at a young age when I had nothing else. My perception of success was to create something for myself, from scratch. It was more of a challenge that was lead by the competitive spirit I always had.

My “baby’ – as I like to call my first real business idea that achieved something grew inside for a very long time. Somehow the simplicity of doing a daily process ever more efficient seemed to attract my attention. Basically, the model was to collect e-waste from any source available, do selection and do export at the end. The catch was that there were no companies that specialised in the process – the opportunity! Towards the finish of my college, which by the way was business school because I knew it would help me achieve my long-term goals, I was ready to take a leap of faith.

The Problem

As a 20 year old I had no money and did not want to ask anyone for help (I now despise myself for this). My future company was created to be as efficient as possible so I would not need as much money. But when you have a clear goal for the future there is nothing to stop you and any problem is just an obstacle. So was my problem. There had to be a way to do it

The Solution – Investing Yourself

I remember banging my head for days until I wrote a list with only one item. The name of the list: “My possessions that could be invested” – the only item on the list – MYSELF. Finally we are moving towards something. The moment I saw myself as an asset I employed by business knowledge. The asset had only one restriction, and no it wasn’t imagination, it was TIME. So technically investing time (a limited asset) was the only thing that could lead to achievement. Once I was the asset, what could I possibly do to get at least basic funding?

Time is your asset

Back to basics – COMPETITION! The national business plan competition held yearly featured over 100 of the best business ideas in the country. I invested myself in the competition because the first prize money were just enough. In the month leading to the application, there were hours spent in rewriting the actual application, which btw was around 1000 words in total (explaining the idea, innovation, market opportunities, business model and such). And as you can imagine – SUCCESS! My idea was picked in the top 30 and continued on in the competition.

The following 3 months lead to the creation of a business plan. But using my asset, I spent endless hours learning to write business plans from any resources available. Then there was the research – I did interviews, contacted potential suppliers and customers, got feedback and improved. The final outcome was a moment of pride. But it was still not over. I got news the business plan was chosen in the top 10. Imagine the happiness. Yet now the most important part came – the presentation. Investing my asset further, I created, presented and eventually won the competition hands on.

The outcome

Reflecting today on the whole process has helped me understand quite a few things crucial for young entrepreneurs. What is the common sense behind investing yourself? First of all even when there seems to be no solution to a certain hurdle, it does not mean that there ACTUALLY is none. You just have to think out of the box and be ready for drastic measures. Second is that there is no bad experience. Starting a business at an age before 20 does give knowledge and experience that you will not recognize in the near future. Just sit tight and revise your state of mind once a year. You will see how you perspective changes and makes you far more responsive to the world around you. Third – confidence. Imagine doing all that you have with all the restraints that you had! Now that is some undertaking in itself. Why not do it again, even better, on a bigger scale, change everyone’s life?

Til next time!