Recently I asked an executive I was coaching, "What hobbies do you have?" He paused, looked at me blankly, and then replied, "Actually, I don't really have any," followed by another long pause. As he reflected on this, it seemed to suddenly strike him that his life was way out of balance. He was living and breathing his work, which was his own company. The little free time he had, outside of his business, was spent driving his kids to their various activities and watching them play sports and take music lessons. While he loved spending time with his kids, he felt that something was missing in his life. He also reported that he often felt tense, stressed and was increasingly having difficulty controlling his temper.
Many of us can relate to this lifestyle. We have long given up on having any personal time in order to devote our energies to our work or families. But rarely do we give ourselves time for our own activities. Yet finding time for ourselves is key to our own sanity. It can actually improve all the other aspects of our lives. Having a hobby may be even more important to people who lead very full and busy lives.
Defining a hobby. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as a pursuit outside of one's regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation. It's not something you "have to do," but rather something you "want to do"_ because you love to do it. As a result, a hobby can take many forms, be it stamp collecting, gardening, woodworking, playing tennis or even traveling.
Research has shown that people who have hobbies are generally healthier, and have a lower risk of depression and dementia. Many executives that I have coached say a sport or physical fitness routine as a hobby keeps their blood pressure down, enables them to manage their anger and daily frustrations, and puts them in a much better frame of mind. Consequently, this impacts their quality of life, work and family time. Michael Brickey, author of "Defy Aging," says that an ideal hobby would be one that serves three purposes: a diversion (escape from daily life), a passion (engage in something you love) and a creation of a sense of purpose.