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Feeling stressed, overworked or overwhelmed? There's a simple solution that can bring more happiness to your life and improve your working life:
Get a hobby.
Having a passion in life that is equal (if not greater) to your work can improve your professional life in an incredible number of ways. I say this from experience: In my own life, my photography hobby has been a lifesaver in terms of helping me attain balance in my career. Not only does switching gears to photography give me personal fulfillment, but it has also taught me creative and problem-solving skills that have actively helped me advance in my career. It's also provided a well-needed respite from the daily grind.
Here, I'll share a few ways that my photography hobby has made me better at my day job; these benefits are fairly universal to hobbies and careers of all sorts, though.
Related: When Your Home Life Is Stressful, Your Business Suffers
1. It makes you more interesting.
If you only care about work and nothing else, chances are you're not a dynamic individual who people love to network with -- you're probably just another boring workaholic.
A hobby can help you hold a conversation and connect with people on a level that goes beyond just business.
2. It can increase your creativity.
One of the biggest benefits of having a hobby is that it makes you more creative. This increased creativity can have a number of positive effects when it comes to your profession.
For example, if I take the time to go out into nature and take photographs, I have a whole new set of creative decisions to make. How should I crop that shot? What angle should I take it from? Having the ability to problem-solve in such a pleasurable way can bring a new perspective to my work, too, allowing me to creatively and constructively come up with solutions when necessary.
3. It can help you decompress.
Having a hobby lets you take your mind off of work. Believe it or not, more work isn't necessarily better. Constant email-checking doesn't actually make you better at your job, and sometimes a break is necessary to be able to constructively look at your work again and increase productivity. This dovetails nicely into the next point . . .
Related: Sleep In and Make Millions: Why You Don't Need to Wake Up at 5 A.M.
4. It allows you to reset.
How many times in life have you wished that you could have a "reset" button? Sadly, they don't exist (yet), but a hobby is the next best thing.
When I get lost in the minutiae involved of being an entrepreneur, then take a pause and devote some time to photography, I have the ability to truly let my work go for a short time. When I pick it back up, the projects that I was procrastinating on or maybe not doing my best work on seem a lot easier all of a sudden.
All it takes is some time off for that mental reset
5. It lets you stay true to yourself.
We might not all end up as the ballerinas, firemen or whatever else we dreamed of being as children. But, that doesn't mean that you can't still pursue things that you love.
As adults, we're not necessarily handed opportunities to find ourselves, so we need to take them. A hobby is a good opportunity for you to find the time and space you need to really connect with yourself and continue growing as a person.
6. It provides a bigger world view.
Even if you work in a big industry, your professional field is finite in its reach and views. Having a hobby can serve as a powerful reminder that there's a great big world out there.
I love my work. However, even when you love your work, it's common to feel trapped sometimes, to forget about the rest of the world still moving along. For me, photography allows me to reconnect with the world, with nature, with people and with something bigger than me. It helps me develop a bigger world view, and this keeps me from being boxed in professionally, both in terms of my thinking and my travel.
Related: 10 Habits That Will Dramatically Improve Your Life
7. It builds connections.
If your life revolves around work, things can get pretty lonely. A hobby can help you connect not only with yourself, but with others as well.
Hobbies allow you to create a community. For example, if you're a father, maybe your hobby is making model train sets with your son, which creates a deeper bond and connection. If you work alone, maybe making yoga your hobby can allow you to connect with others and make friends since you don't have a community of coworkers. Personally, I often photograph on trips I take with friends.
Connection is a powerful thing that enriches your life. A better quality of life means overall increased happiness, which will serve you well at work and beyond.
8. It motivates.
Maintaining motivation can be hard. As an entrepreneur, it can be particularly hard, simply given the level of self-motivation you need every single minute of every single day. It can be a lot of pressure, and you can't run on empty forever.
Photography is a way for me to escape the need for self-motivation for a short period. In a way, it helps fill my reserves, making me stronger emotionally and mentally. By taking the time to recharge, I can approach my work with a refreshed sense of motivation and clarity.
Having a hobby enriches your life, gives you vitality and gives you a sense of self and purpose. These things can have powerful ripple effects in your personal and professional life. By developing and cultivating hobbies that you care about, you can experience all of these benefits and more!