My Work Is My Hobby

I say often that I don’t have hobbies, at least the typical ones like others in my life have (like golf or hunting).

For many they might not like or agree with what I have to say about the subject of hobbies, but regardless, I want to share my experiences having a full-time job which replaces most any hobbies I might or would have.

Mileage and opinions may vary. And to each his own. But I’ll do my best just to share my own experiences.

So let’s put it out there: My work is my hobby.

I’ve achieved that because I have work-life alignment. In other words, my life interests and family dreams and goals are in alignment with what I do to earn a living. Thus, I don’t feel the need or have an interest in those typical hobbies I see others do.

Here are my thoughts on why my work is my hobby:

  • I finally found work I love and am passionate about — I am an entrepreneur. After switching jobs almost every two years for the first part of my career, I discovered a job (founder of iThemes) that allows me to do what I enjoy most every day. Now after 6 years I rarely have to do work that sucks. It challenges me every day and there is always something new to learn. I wake up excited about my work. And I have a hard time shutting down at the end of the day.
  • My work is my professional obsession — I realized early on that I have a very limited amount of time and energy and I need to spend them wisely. For example, I really love video games. If I had a hobby outside of my work, that likely might be it. But after getting a Wii for Christmas and several games, I quickly sobered up to the time commitment necessary to be as good as I wanted to be would mean I’d have to sacrifice my family and professional time. So I play it on occasion with my wife and friends, but don’t spend any time by myself playing after the first couple of weeks. It was easy to say “my work is my real hobby” again.
  • I built and play my own special video game every day — As an entrepreneur it’s been a blast to build my own unique video game to play. I call it iThemes. Each day, I get to check our scores (sales, customer happiness through the Net Promoter Score, and happy, fulfilled team members using their skills and strengths so they feel like their work is a hobby too). And through my actions and ideas, I get to affect the outcome of the game. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I win. But every day, I get to use my time and talents to win this game. This is why work is fun for me. I’m pretty good at it and learning each day how to get better. Pouring my time, energy and focus into this one game has helped me succeed and given me an insane amount of enjoyment over the years. This is called “flow.” 
  • I use my “time off” to sharpen my skills — If I had a hobby, it would be reading. But I don’t enjoy reading fiction as much as non-fiction. (Yes, I realize I’m weird.) For me, that means I get to read and learn about business, leadership and marketing and the business pays for my “hobby” because it helps me do my job better. So I don’t have to justify my expensive hobbies to my family.
  • I get to spend more time with my family — Working my main hobby for 40+ hours a week means when I clock out, I get to devote more of my time and focus to my family. Other hobbies would only eat into my family time that I’m not willing to give up.
  • I still have hobby-like activities — I do many things unrelated to my work. I just don’t spend as much time honing a skill around a hobby or focusing on it in excess (which I’d be prone to do). 
  • I still need to relax and recharge — I know a lot of people use hobbies as their stress relief valve. My grandfather had a collection of antique cars (yes, a hobby) where he spent time and got his stress relief. I find R&R in a variety of ways, including getaway weekends with my wife, watching movies, traveling, and writing. (If you call those hobbies, then I have hobbies.)
  • I’m still open to a hobby that’s not work-related — I’m always thinking about a side hobby I could pick up and learn and enjoy. But most of the hobbies I’ve found I would not enjoy. On paper, I think I would enjoy golf. But having played it several times during my college years, I knew that I’d have to obsess over mastering a decent game. Not even a good one, just a decent one to actually enjoy it. But no matter how many hobbies I’d love to try, I never enjoyed any of them. For instance, I’d love to do home improvement, but the first time I hit my finger with a hammer, I’d end up throwing the hammer through a wall (this may or may not have happened).
  • I want to devote my best time and energy to go to my family and my profession — These are most important to me than anything else. And because I found work I love, it makes it super easy for me to say and do that.
  • None of this happened overnight — Finally, I want to say, all of this just didn’t happen in an instant. I spent years toiling at jobs I hated and learning what I enjoyed most and what skills I could use to build my work hobby.

All of the above reasons are why I don’t feel bad when I can’t really list many hobbies. I just love my work. It’s the best hobby I’ve ever found.

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