There are times when you are minding your own business, doing an activity that you love, and someone says to you, “You should do that full-time! You are great at it!” Gardening, yoga, writing… whatever. You have ideas and dreams, but when you sit down and think about actually trying to do it full-time, you wonder, “Maybe this is just a hobby?”
Related:4 Things Not To Do When Trying To Find Your Passion
Why Hobbies Are Important
Having a hobby in your life is important. Hobbys are activities that allow us to relax.
In fact, the definition of a hobby is an activity done in one’s leisure time for pleasure.
Simple, beautiful. Pleasurable. Nice, right?
In today’s busy world, having activities in your life that you do solely for pleasure is important. They allow you to unwind, relax, recharge, and think differently about your problems or your daily life.
They also allow you to develop expertise in a new skill or way of thinking (Building glass-bottle boats! Studying medieval castles!), explore the world, get a boost of self-confidence.
Also, all good things that enrich your life… but can they be more for you? How do you tell when you have a hobby, or when it is truly a passion?
Passion vs. Hobby
Hobbies are things you do for pleasure, in your leisure, precisely because they relax you. Hobbies are a pure form of fun.
Passion you do because you can’t not do it at some level. Because it’s inside you, and even when things get hard, you still want to try and do it anyway.
Put another way: Hobbies are fun things you do, your passion is who you are.
That doesn’t mean that passions aren’t fun, fulfilling things - they often are. But they are also fraught with challenges and tasks that push you way past your comfort zone and into stress… and following your passion is rarely a completely easy path. But when it’s a passion, that doesn’t matter because you will face down any number of barriers to making something happen for yourself.
Here's how I learned...
For example: I used to have a hobby around buying shoes. I LOVE shoes, and I loved buying new ones whenever the mood stuck me. Eventually, I wondered if maybe I had a passion around shoes and shoe design (I had a crazy night where I couldn’t find a shoe I needed for work and decided to make my own). I loved shoes, I loved buying them, it relaxed me, why not follow this hobby and turn it into something more?
I researched some shoe design schools, talked to a manufacturer, and spent time staring at my closet. However, at the first sign of rejection (shoe design school is a little particular about having a fashion background instead of one in consulting), I ended up sitting back down on my couch. I realized that, while I loved the occasional shoe shopping, I didn’t love thinking about shoes for 40 hours a week. The very first barrier I hit showed me that what I thought was a passion was really just a hobby instead.
How do you know when it’s a passion?
The biggest test of a passion is when you reach that first obstacle and you plow right through it.
Even if you are unsure of your path, even if you are still researching or exploring your direction, you like it enough to continue forward. That is how you know you are working with a passion.
In my case, shoe design wasn’t for me. At the first hurdle, I sat back down.
But coaching? That was a different story. At the same time, I was applying to shoe design schools, I was also researching coaching programs. I had a few in mind, and my initial top choice required me to notarize my graduate degree because I had gone to school in the U.K. Undeterred by that hurdle, I turned to my second choice, and saw that they had a program coming up in a few weeks that I could try without a large financial commitment. I signed up on the spot while gathering the information together for my first choice.
I went to the program, fell in love, and never looked back.
You don’t have to be sure about something to get an indication that you are on the right path - certainty comes later, after you have explored options and seen what drives you versus what just slows you down. Love castles and want to become a history professor but balk at the idea of taking the GRE and committing years of your life to graduate school? Maybe that’s not a real passion for you. Love castles and get excited about spending more time researching medieval architecture, studying it, and teaching it? Find yourself interested prepping for the GRE and talking to professors? You may be onto something!
Overall, your willingness to explore, change tack, and keep moving forward will tell you when you are onto something that is more than just a hobby. Good luck and enjoy storming the castle! (Had to say that one, couldn't resist!)
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About The Presenter
Christie Mims is an expert career coach and creator and lead instigator of the Career Happiness Revolution. Want six simple steps to finding your passion?
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A certified professional coach and recovering consultant with a background working for Fortune 500 companies, Christie has been there, done that, and worn those uncomfortable shoes. She's dispensed career advice for Forbes, LearnVest, Brazen Careerist, and many more, and can be seen speaking at the University of VA, The Daily Muse, Women for Hire, and a variety of other organizations.
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