close Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn

Passion For Cash? Why Your Hobby Might Not Be the Perfect Job After All

In a side hustle obsessed world, pursuing a passion purely for the love of it may be the antidote to modern stresses you’re looking for.
by Fiona Wiedmann | Aug 11 2020

Hobbies enrich our lives, bring us joy in our spare time, and offer us a crucial means of creative release. However, these days there’s often an unsaid pressure to turn your favorite pastime into something you can perfect and transform into a money-spinning side hustle. That doesn’t leave much room for experimentation, failure, or pure joy.

Whether you enjoy knitting or baking, drawing or making, the idea of turning your labor of love into plain old labor might have crossed your mind at some point. But why does everything need to be a side hustle? What happened to doing something simply for the love of the process?

Living the Dream?

There’s a common modern understanding that if you learn how to do something, it’s because you want to make money from it. Did you take a creative writing class? You must want to write a bestseller. Have you learned how to reupholster old chairs? You must want to open an upcycling store. When this expectation is the default, it can feel hard to justify having hobbies if they aren’t building towards some kind of professional goal.

And in theory, monetizing your hobby seems like a good idea. What could be dreamier than doing something you enjoy all day, every day!? The reality often is, however, transforming a hobby into a career makes the thing you once loved unrecognizable. Now with the added stress of having to make money, the joy once gained from doing it casually can quickly disappear. Several books in the Blinkist library explore just why you don’t need the validation of making money in the pursuit of your passion, and how rejecting this side hustle mentality can greatly benefit your life.

Why Hobbies are so Important

Think back to the last time you found yourself truly lost in something, in a state of flow. There’s a high likelihood that you won’t have felt this at work. That’s why hobbies and access to a creative outlet are not only powerful, but deeply necessary, as mapped out in Steven Johnson’s book, Wonderland. He writes that as humans, we’re wired for discovery and exploration and though history books may neglect to mention it, many great global advances have been made through people taking time to play and have fun.

Discovery Through Play

Playfulness nurtures our minds and allows us to become our most creative selves. Whenever we encounter something new or feel a sense of discovery, our brains get an instant hit of the neurotransmitter dopamine which gives us a natural high. As Johnson says, many of the important discoveries ever made came about accidentally when someone was just messing around and playing.

If we spend all our time in money-making mode, we close ourselves off to experiencing this natural high and finding opportunities to grow and explore. So the next time that you engage in your favourite hobby, remember the importance of doing it for fun and how much more you will get out of it by focusing on enjoyment.

It doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad at it — it’s about giving yourself time to find your element and enjoy being in it. Maybe you’ll discover something incredible on the way!

Look at Your Motivators

Imagine you’ve just baked a delicious cake or painted a beautiful picture. Are you more concerned about whether other people find it delicious or aesthetically pleasing? In An Audience of One, author Srinivas Rao takes a deeper look into the rewards of autonomous creativity. He fundamentally argues that the activity itself should be the ultimate reward without needing to seek any validation beyond it. He warns that focusing too much on others’ opinions when pursuing creative outlets and hobbies will only lead to self-dissatisfaction.

Never Play to the Gallery

Social media has made us all obsessed with external validation and this compulsion shows up in our everyday lives as well. As the title of the book suggests, Srinivas Rao encourages everyone to do things for an audience of one. But what does he mean by this? Do it just for yourself.

When turning your hobby into a career it might be easy to focus too much on so-called ‘extrinsic motivators’ like praise. These, however, are all things which cannot be controlled and will influence how you feel about and present your work. Of course, well-received work can make us feel good in the short-term, but being true to yourself, your individual vision and passion will make way for further growth.

David Bowie was someone who deeply believed in the power of creating work according to your own vision, and not in a way that you think people will like. He cited his biggest motivator to create was for better self-understanding and to do something artistically important. He certainly succeeded in the latter!

Take Purposeful Pauses

Rao says the key to fruitful creation lies in the ability to trust in yourself and be present. He urges us to see the value in the joy of the process and encourages everyone to embrace moments of solitude without distraction. In these solo times, listen to yourself, to your environment and to others. It may trigger new directions!

Taking a purposeful break is just as crucial as putting in the work itself. How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell and Do Pause by Robert Poynton both address why this is so important. Odell cites the defeat of the labor movements in the 19th century as the beginning of the separation of work and leisure. Over time, these boundaries have become increasingly ambiguous and to be busy has become a badge of honor. We admire those who are always “on” and readily available. People who turned their hobby into a profitable side gig seem like people who are really living the dream.

However, this can be a harmful way of thinking that leads to feelings of inadequacy and burnout. Even computers burn out if they’re constantly under pressure to perform, and we have to remember that we’re humans first. For both Poynton and Odell, a threat of overwork or burnout can be remedied by taking the time for purposeful pauses. This means breaking from your normal everyday routine to have some undistracted time to yourself. By rebuilding boundaries between work and leisure time, you’ll have more time to rest, recover, and be inspired.

A Little Perspective Goes a Long Way

Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton is an exploration of the Japanese concept of the same name. By definition, ‘Wabi’ implies a mindset that appreciates simplicity, humility and frugality. The word ‘Sabi’ on the other hand, means something along the lines of “elegant simplicity”. Combined, Wabi Sabi means the simple beauty, imperfection and transience of life. So how can this be carried into your everyday? Among Wabi Sabi’s numerous interpretations, it stresses the need to stop comparing our position in life to others. Everyone is on their individual meandering journeys. It values the passage of time and teaches us that the path is more important than the destination. It urges us to seek out the magic in the everyday.

With Wabi Sabi wisdom, you can love your passion for what it is, the path it takes you on and what gifts it brings to you, even if it isn’t money. Ultimately, it’s about remembering that our time here is limited and we need to use it in wise, joyful ways.

It’s Up To You

In the end, it all amounts to joy. Finding your element within something and having a great time in the process is one of the wonderful things about being alive. While there are many reasons we all need to make some extra cash, it’s important to remember that money isn’t the only thing that matters.

Before dollar signs flash before your eyes every time you try something new, take a little perspective and try to understand why you feel that pressure. Do you really need the cash or do you need the cash to validate something you love? Regardless of where you land, just make sure to live your life and do work on your own terms.

Facebook Twitter Tumblr Instagram LinkedIn Flickr Email Print