Photo Credit: Dawn Herlihy Reilly
Now that we’re empty nesters, it’s time to focus on ourselves more and what better way to enhance our lives than to start a hobby we love? So, I’m delighted to bring you a guest post from Eileen McKenna on how to find a hobby you’ll love.
There are transitions in our lives where we suddenly have more time for ourselves – the youngest starts kindergarten, the kids go off to college or move out on their own, or we finally reach retirement. With many of these transitions, there is a mix of emotions, yearning for the time before, coupled with excitement for the possibilities of the next phase.
People may advise – do something for you, get a hobby. At any stage of life, it’s always a good idea to do something you enjoy, something that helps you relax. But the question is often, but what? Here are steps to exploring and finding hobbies that you will enjoy.
Step One: Make a List of Everything that Appeals to You
Write a list of every hobby, activity, goal, project, that has piqued your interest over the years. Think both broadly and specifically. For example, hiking (broad), refinishing the living room coffee table (specific).
Having trouble thinking of ideas? Think about activities that fall into categories, like craft, sport, outdoor adventure, music, cooking/baking, fine art, travel, shopping, etc. Or pick a category that appeals to you and list all the activities you can think of that fit in it.
Or think of where you’d like to be during your new hobby – in the kitchen, at home in general, outside in nature, at a fitness place, in new locations, etc. List all the activities that can be done in the place you want to be. Use the process below to prioritize your list.
Step Two: Prioritize the Items on Your List
Use A, B, C, D to assign your level of interest. If there are several items with an A priority, number the As to prioritize them. Rewrite the As in order. You now have a list of what hobbies and projects to try first.
Step Three: Schedule Time for Your Hobby.
If you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. Schedule time to research, learn and engage in your hobby or project. I recommend, at the least, five short sessions, and one longer session each week. I try to paint for 15 minutes in the mornings, and once a week I schedule a longer painting session. Put it on your calendar!
Step Four: Focus on One Hobby or Activity Each Week.
Write a weekly to-do list based on the hobby/activity you chose. For example, for hiking your list might include:
- Researching hiking trails in your area
- Assessing your wardrobe for hiking gear
- Reaching out to friends to join you on a hike
- Looking online for hiking tips and info
- Planning a hike for the week
- Ultimately going on a hike.
- Start small. Don’t start out with a 5-hour hike or a large canvas. Try a shorter beginner trail or a small drawing on paper – something less intimidating.
- Don’t invest a lot. When possible use what you have at the start. If you determine you love a hobby and are going to continue with it, then spend money as needed.
Step Five: Reflect on the Week and the Activity
Did you enjoy it? Do you want to continue with it? If so do it. If not, go to the next item on your list. Approach the next week the same way you approached the first week. Almost daily spend small amounts of time on the hobby you are trying. Once a week spend a longer time immersing yourself in that week’s hobby.
Step Six: Repeat each week until you find a hobby you want to continue with.
Trying new things is fun, but at a certain point, you may want to focus. Focusing allows you to improve in a specific area. Consider taking a class or joining a group that focuses on the hobby you are pursuing. Check local library and school district continuing education programs for inexpensive classes and workshops.
Improving your skills through time and effort will add to the enjoyment a hobby brings. When you reach a plateau – challenge yourself to keep from getting bored. Try a harder hike, golf course, or new subject for your art. There are many online drawing and painting challenges to keep you inspired and connect you to a community.
You may find a hobby you like, focus on it for a few weeks or months, and then decide to move on to something else. At that point, you can always refer back to your list – or create a new one – to find the next hobby to try.
We all get busy with our to-do lists and commitments, but taking time out to do something you enjoy, something just for you is a priceless gift to yourself. And you deserve it!
Eileen McKenna is a Watercolor Artist and Graphic Designer. Twelve years ago she didn’t draw or paint. After having kids she decided to do something for herself and signed up for a drawing class. Regular creativity still eluded her, so in 2014 she made a resolution to be creative and started her blog “My Creative Resolution.” Five years later, her creative practice is still going strong. What began as a personal project has turned into a desire to inspire others. Creativity is for everyone! Talent is just a starting point. Eileen’s new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life is now available at: https://shop.eileenmckenna.com/ebook.html