Success at your desk can depend on any number of factors, including how you spend your time away from it. A hobby can cultivate new passions, facilitate networking and encourage truly unique ways of thinking. We all have interests at work—these are what make us different.
But the humble hobby is often overlooked by employers as an important part of a well-rounded career. What many fail to recognise is the true impact of enjoyable activities on attitude, skill set and work ethic. Whether you’re looking to study a short course, join your local hiking club or pursue a life-long dream of wildlife photography, here are a few ways your leisure pursuits can shape your career.
Create a Positive Outlook
Experiencing achievement and purpose outside of work is very important—a hobby can give professionals all that and more, ensuring that free time is both enjoyable and productive. This is especially crucial for those who undergo very long hours during the week, where a fun activity over the weekend will help to introduce more work/life balance.
Indulging in leisure time gives the mind and body a well-earned rest. A few hours spent hiking on a Saturday will give you something to look forward to during the week, and a positive headspace to face the often-dreaded Monday.
Network with Different People
You know the drill. You’ve worked in the same cubicle for years, surrounded by familiar faces and routines every day of the week. It might feel comfortable now, but it can also be a trap. Monotony can leave individuals socially deprived and harboring resentment against their job for being ‘stuck.’
Working in an environment that lacks change is also a serious roadblock to productivity. When you join a team activity, such as a basketball club, it is the first step to managing your future. Meeting new and interesting people (the sort you might ordinarily not talk to) is a huge confidence booster, and can propel you into that exciting land beyond your comfort zone.
Discover New Passions
You’re unlikely to uncover a deep appreciation for sewing if you never try it. When it comes to choosing a hobby, sometimes trying something completely different is the best approach! Doing a 360 can lead you down an unexpected path and, best of all, enhance the variety of your skill set.
Upskilling will fast-track your current career, and have the added bonus of opening up doors to totally undiscovered jobs with your new skills. Finding and changing your interests is an essential component of adult learning. It not only demonstrates an open mind, but is a key sign of an innovator—a highly employable attribute.
Unique Ways of Thinking
Hobbies will often involve a level of problem-solving and team building. Interaction and adaptation with unfamiliar situations encourages these different ways of thinking. An IT professional attempting to fish for the first time will need to think outside of the box in order to make a catch!
This behavior can set you ahead in the long-term and see you expand into new, diverse roles. Original thought underpins innovation in business, so it goes without saying that using leisure time to stimulate analytical thinking is an ideal way to keep the cogs turning.
Improve Cognitive Function
Enrolling at a university degree, short course or technical institute as a mature-age student has a number of benefits, including improving cognitive function. The brain is often described as a muscle, and just like your biceps, is in need of constant practice in order to perform.
Despite adult education proving a daunting prospect to many established professionals, the classroom environment is a structured, secure place to explore your passions and get qualified to pursue them. Night classes and flexible lesson alternatives provide every reason to say ‘yes’ to a new learning experience.
Hobbies should never be viewed as just a way to pass the time. They’re a very real and important element that feeds into your career. Without hobbies life would be a dull affair, but with them? Each day can be elevated and every individual made different.
Caroline Schmidt blogs for the Kangan Institute. She is passionate about education, careers, and giving advice to students of all ages.
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