Having a hobby that you enjoy—whether that’s crocheting a sweater for your bestie’s new baby, hitting the slopes to enjoy some fresh powder, or practicing pirouettes in ballet class—has all sorts of well-documented benefits, from lower levels of stress to an increased sense of belonging and purpose.
Clearly, hobbies can make a serious impact on your quality of life. But they can also improve your work performance. According to licensed professional counselor Rebecca Weiler, when you’re engaged and fulfilled in your life outside of work (like you are when you’re pursuing meaningful hobbies), that happiness spills over. It can make you more focused and enthusiastic when you’re on the job.
And depending on the hobby, the skills you gain as a result of your leisurely pursuits can also make you better at your job (and make you a more appealing candidate for potential employers). “For example, someone who performs in an improvisational group as a hobby could be attractive to an employer because they can think quickly on their feet and may also be more comfortable presenting in front of a group of people,” Weiler says.
So, having a hobby that you love can do good things for your life and your job. But what if you don’t actually have a hobby you enjoy? You’re not alone. According to Weiler, trying to find meaningful hobbies is one of the primary reasons her clients—especially young people—seek counseling.
Clearly, there are plenty of people out there who don’t have, or don’t know how to find, a hobby. But that doesn’t mean they can’t find one. It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 85 years old—it’s not too late to hop on board the hobby train! Here are a few strategies you can use to find a hobby you truly love.
1. Transform What You Already Enjoy Into a Hobby
Even if you don’t have something that you consider a hobby, there’s definitely some activity that you enjoy—and chances are, there’s a way to transform it into a full-fledged hobby. “I always ask people what it is they like to do for fun,” says Weiler. “It’s a good thing to explore—because things like ‘eating’ and ‘watching sports’ could easily be turned into hobbies such as ‘taking cooking classes’ or ‘joining a softball team.’”
Look at the ways you already enjoy spending your time and figure out how they can become hobbies. Have you watched every stand-up special on Netflix...twice? Try taking an improv class. Is your favorite part of the day playing with your dog? Try volunteering with a rescue organization. Love reading about random pop culture facts on the internet? Try joining a trivia team.
The point is, you’re already doing things you love. The easiest way to find hobbies that you truly enjoy—and that will make you a better, more well-rounded person and employee—is to figure out how to build off those things.
2. Reclaim Your Childhood Interests
Think about the hobbies you used to enjoy before work, life, and #adulting got in the way.
When you were a kid, what did you like to do? Did you spend hours finger-painting masterpieces to hang on the fridge? If so, you might want to explore taking an art class. Were you constantly getting dressed in costume and putting on shows for your friends? Then maybe you can check out a local acting troupe. Or maybe you spent the entire year looking forward to Field Day at school—in which case, you could explore joining an adult kickball or flag football league.
When you were a kid, you probably had hobbies you loved—so revisiting them as an adult can be a great way to get back into the groove.
3. Take an Assessment
The most fun hobby in the world for one person can be downright torturous for another—and vice versa. People tend to enjoy hobbies that appeal to their own unique strengths, interests, and personality characteristics.
According to Weiler, there are a number of personality assessments that can help you figure out which hobbies might be the right fit. Two of the most effective? The Strong Interest Inventory, which can help you identify key interests, and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which can give you deeper insight into your personality type. These assessments can help you figure out which hobbies are most aligned with who you are and offer insight into what you might enjoy.
So, for example, you might take the Myers-Briggs assessment and find out you’re an ENFJ. ENFJ’s tend to be social, passionate, and altruistic—so doing volunteer work for a charitable organization might feel like a meaningful hobby to pursue. Or maybe you’re an INTP, in which case you value logic above all else—so learning how to program and spending your free time writing computer software or games could be a great fit.
4. Start Trying Things (and See What Sticks)
The truth is, no matter how you approach finding a new hobby, it can be hit or miss. For example, you might think crafting is the perfect creative outlet—only to find it feels boring and monotonous. That’s OK! If you really want to find a hobby you love, you need to be willing to put yourself out there—and be just as willing to accept that not everything you try is going to be a slam dunk.
Think of anything you might find interesting—whether that’s kite surfing, macramé, or karate—and take a class. If you like it, great! Keep pursuing it. If not, cross it off the list and move on to the next potentially interesting thing.
“Join organizations, clubs, or groups where you can try things out. Websites such as Meetup.com are a great way to explore different interests which can then lead to hobbies and also allows people to test the waters at no or a low cost,” says Weiler. “Connecting with similarly minded people can also be important as it can teach us more about ourselves and what we like/dislike or want to make a commitment to.”
It might take a few attempts to find a hobby that you love, but the key is to not give up. Keep putting yourself out there, connecting with people, and exploring new things that feel exciting to you. Eventually, you’ll find a hobby that feels like the right fit—and you’ll learn a bunch of new things and meet cool people in the process!
Photo of people taking a cooking class courtesy of Mint Images/Getty Images.
Deanna deBara is a freelance writer living in Portland, OR. When she's not busy building her business or typing away at her keyboard, she enjoys spending time hiking in the Pacific Northwest, traveling with her soon-to-be husband, or doting on her dog, Bennett. You can follow her on Twitter (she's a newbie!) at @Deanna_deBara.More from this Author