Make Your Work What You Like and Your Hobbies What You Love

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  • July 31, 2014
  • Caitlin New

My husband looks at my sketchpad, drawing his brows together in dubious consideration. “It’s not quite ready to frame and hang on the wall, yet, but it was good practice,” he finally says. I look at my pastel drawing of my German Shepherd dog and prepare to be offended, but he was right. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. It’d been years since I’d practiced pastels, and I wanted to do something I used to enjoy.

I’m lucky. I’m in a career that fits me. I like what I do. Really like it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up every weekday and dread going to work. For those of us in the “9-5” workforce, we spend eight-to-10 hours every Monday through Friday at work, so a majority of our waking days between the ages of 21 to 65 (if you’re lucky) are spent at the office. We better like what we do or we may go crazy. However, I don’t believe we have to love what we do.

Think about how you would spend a Saturday afternoon if you had all of the free time in the world with nowhere to be and no one to please. Does work come to mind? For me, it doesn’t. I think of hobbies. I love to dabble in the arts in my free time. Working with my hands and creating things is a nice change from computer screens and meetings—I can actually feel a different part of my brain working when I’m drawing, painting, decorating or making things. I’d love to finish my woodworking art project that I plan to hang in a prominent location on our wall, much to my husband’s horror. I’d love to finally paint something on my blank canvas, because last I checked, dust wasn’t art. I’d love to write at least one of the book ideas I’ve jotted down over the years. Maybe I’ll bake my triple chocolate layer cake.

A few months ago, I made a handcrafted bouquet for my best friend’s wedding. I suppose it didn’t turn out completely horrible, because someone asked me if I’d considered making a living off of designing DIY crafts for weddings or events. My immediate reaction was “absolutely not.” I thought about why my initial reaction was so vehemently opposed to this idea, and I realized it’s because I didn’t want to complicate what I love by turning it into a business that I have to find a way to make profitable. Because let’s face it; I’m not confident people would actually pay money for my art, and as soon as I start stressing over how to make what I love to do profitable, it drains the fun out of it.

I’m not suggesting that you make your living doing something that doesn’t give you a warm feeling inside. I’ve made the decision to not turn everything I love to do into work. I need something left to love when I’ve given my all at work. Just as parents need alone time to remind themselves that they’re humans, workers need enjoyable pastimes that remind themselves that they have passions outside of work.

This is a concept I try to explain to younger Millennials who will listen to me. So many of my fellow Gen Y’ers are bent on finding the absolute perfect job—preferably one that changes the world, allows them to take ample vacation days and pays them a lot, in addition to curing cancer and ending world hunger. Awesome. I hope you get it. But if you can’t find that perfect mix, consider getting a nice, stable job that you really, really like, and save your world-changing prowess for volunteer activities that you really, really love.

Alright. I’ll put away my soapbox (that I made in woodshop) and let you get back to the work that you hopefully enjoy.