As creative types we often turn our hobby into an income-earning venture. But does this mean we no longer need a hobby?
When I started my photography business it was because I had a passion (and still do) for capturing the beauty of living, but the reality of running that business meant that in order to sustain my micro business I had to work ridiculous hours. When I turned thirty I went through a quarter life crisis as I was working myself into the ground trying to make a living from doing what I loved while supporting a young family, but I somehow never found that right balance between working and living. So I started to feel the strain of how turning your hobby into an income-earning venture could drain the joy out of the activity. Towards the end, photographing became something I did to make money. At that stage in my life I was not wishing to celebrate the so called milestone age as I felt more like a failure than anything else.
At thirty-two I had an awakening. I decided to change the direction of my career, starting on the journey of ‘creating beautiful products for everyday living’ using skills I had learned through my studies, whilst still enjoying the art of photography. For the first time in a long time I decided I wanted to celebrate life, so we invited a bunch of friends around for dinner and a jam session. We did not tell them it was my birthday, this was simply a celebration of life; one should not need an excuse for a good party. The irony of this was that I had not played an instrument since I was in high school. We’ve always had instruments in our home and encourage our children to play or sing. My husband plays the piano and he would often play while we sang along, tapped on a djembé or shook maracas. So here I was asking everyone else to bring along their instruments and musical skills to jam with us. It was a fantastic night… they all worked out the timing lined up with my birthday so they brought presents too.
Several years have passed since. A couple of years ago a friend picked up a guitar that needed restringing for me at a garage sale. I had mentioned to him I’d been wanting to learn to play for a number of years now, but had not put the time nor effort into doing so, being too caught up in ‘earning an income’ from other passions. So even though my new business venture stimulates and challenges me and has enable me to grow as an artisan, this year I decided that in order to maintain that balance I did not quite achieve in my previous business, I needed a hobby, one that is entirely separate to what I do to earn an income. It allows me to set aside thoughts relating to my business altogether. Even though I am very passionate about what I do, I think it is very important to be able to escape and simply loose yourself in something that nurtures your playful side, on a regular basis.
Last Christmas we bought our eldest son a guitar of his own, as he too had said he’d like to learn, we’ve restrung mine and have started learning together. We meet with a tutor once a week. Paying a tutor has meant that I have someone monitoring my progress and holding me accountable, which means that I feel a greater need everyday to pick up that guitar and practice rather than skip it because I have work to complete, deadlines to meet, financials to update etc… Learning to play the guitar has not only allowed me to switch off from work, it clears my mind, after playing I feel refreshed and ready to engage in work activities with a new sense of enthusiasm.
You may have other interests that you’ve put off engaging in because you are too busy working. But I’d like to encourage you to take the plunge, indulge in a hobby, do something that is not about earning money, and for sheer enjoyment. My husband is passionate about gardening and farming even though he earns his income through teaching. His hobby is maintaining a micro farm here at home, with a vegie patch, chickens & ducks, he studies and experiments with different farming principles in order to get the best out of our little plot while providing our family with fresh & nutritious produce to enjoy. The point is that it is different to his everyday income-earning venture and allows him to escape, leave work behind and simply indulge.
Don’t dismiss the value of a hobby!