Late December is often a reflective time of year for many people. It is a common time to look back at the year to take stock of how things went, and where one may improve their habits, routines, and ultimately themselves for the year ahead. To look at it tangibly, this requires taking look at how time is spent, and whether or not the activities that fill our time help or hinder us.
While the practice of inserting more intention into your day-to-day can be rewarding and valuable, it can be easy to go overboard, or to lose sight of what you may personally need to feel better in the new year. A tempting train of thought is that the best life lived is one where every activity has a clear impact on your career, goals, and aspirations. It can be difficult to rationalize the value of activities that fall outside of these categories.
However, it is vital to maintain hobbies that are unrelated to your professional life. There is substantial research behind the importance of hobbies, not only to maintain balance or happiness, but to improve yourself. According to Psychology Today, the role of hobbies in our lives goes beyond the personal feelings of enrichment or interest one may feel.
Due to the routine, improvement, and variety of hobbies, they can impact several areas of thought and skill development. While some of the benefits are obvious – joining a sports team improving your social skills, for example – some may not be apparently clear. Simply engaging in an activity that is different from your work can encourage different ways of thinking, growing your perspective, problem-solving skills, and creativity. Additionally, taking time to improve and grow your skills can improve discipline and self-esteem. Hobbies can even have an impact on time management and stress levels.
Max Salk, an investment analyst based in New York City, has talked about the impact his own hobby has had on his life. He has had a passion for financial markets since college and, as a result, knew that was the career track he wanted to pursue from a young age. However, also in college, Max studied abroad in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where he discovered another passion – this one for travel photography.
Parallel to his pursuit of a career in the financial sector, Max pursued his interest in travel and landscape photography. His camera is a staple on every trip he takes, and he now has a website and Instagram page where he showcases his work. In a recent interview, Max talked about the importance of simply taking the plunge and making an attempt at the things you want to pursue. When asked what advice he would give to his younger self, he said, “Find something you love doing, and pursue it relentlessly.”
Max’s ability to recognize what excites him, be it his work as an investment analyst or his photography on the road, makes him a prime example of the benefits of a well-maintained hobby. As you begin to list your resolutions, make it a point to consider not only what you feel you need to do, but also what you feel you want to spend more time on.