They say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And it’s
true — hobbies make you more interesting and fun to
be around and keep your body and brain rested and renewed.
But your activity of choice also makes you better at business by
improving essential skills like memory, creative thinking, and overall job
Hobbies also help us keep learning. This is key as we tend to
stop learning as we get older.
suggests that by age 25 our brains tend to get “lazy.” It’s not
that our gray cells can no longer learn new things, but rather we
rely on a set number of neuro pathways to do our thinking. In
other words, we get stuck in a brain rut.
However, it’s possible to break free and become new learners and
hobbies can help. For instance, one study that
focused on 200 older adults found that learning a mentally
challenging skill can improve memory. In this case, the people
took up hobbies like photography and quilting that required them
to complete cognitive demanding and complex tasks.
Hobbies often can make you a more valuable worker. Another
suggested that people who spend time on hobbies tend to perform
better on the job. They also are more likely to come up with
creative solutions to problems at work and are more likely to
help their co-workers.
In addition to research, many top business leaders tout the value
of hobbies. Indian billionaire Anil Ambani is a serial marathon
runner, Richard Branson kite surfs, Marissa Mayer bakes cupcakes,
and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey hikes.
In fact, Mark
Zuckerberg believes he learned more from doing side projects
in college than from his classes. And both Warren Buffett and
Bill Gates are long-time bridge players and they have commented
how the game stimulates their strategic thinking. “In the stock
market, you don’t base your decisions on what the market is
doing, but on what you think is rational,” says Buffett. “Bridge
is about weighing gain/loss ratio. You’re doing calculations all
Hobbies can help improve your business and bottom line in other
ways too. For example, hobbies help you better structure your
you have to balance it with other aspects of your life. This can
help improve time management, and as the saying goes, “time is
money.” Yet most of all hobbies simply increase happiness, and
happy workers are more productive and dedicated.
Does it matter what hobby you take up? Research
has suggested that learning a new creative hobby, such as art,
music, gardening, or a language, offer more direct
business-related benefits as they stimulate your thinking and
problem-solving skills. I experienced this myself when I began
learning bass guitar as an adult. You don’t realize how hard it
can be to be an adult learner until you put yourself in the
position to be a beginner, to be vulnerable and sponge to
learning something new.
Sticking with something, even when you are not the best at it, is
hard but the outcome of realizing how to learn again is extremely
valuable for business. I have found my bass playing challenges me
to use different skills while improving my existing ones. And
many times when I’m stuck with a work problem, I can refer back
to how I learned a new riff on guitar, even when it was
challenging, and apply those learning skills back to work and
come back to the business situation with a new perspective.
However, what is most important is that you enjoy your hobby. It
should be something that excites you as well as helps you relax
and step away from the hustle and bustle of life for a while.
So what activities, hobbies, or interests excite you? Write them
down, pick one, and get going. Don’t worry if it doesn’t stick or
you find your enjoyment waning after a while of doing it. When
you need to find that joy again, simply choose another activity
to learn. Time devoted to yourself is always time well spent and
don’t be surprised if your new found hobby also teaches you how
to try new things in business and drive more innovation through
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