- Hobbies are not just a pastime – they support the development of soft skills that are beneficial to our careers.
- Creativity, the ability to see things from a different perspective, and confidence are just three of the key benefits we reap when we invest in our hobbies.
As we enjoy the summer months and – hopefully – prioritize some rest and relaxation as part of our routine, it’s an excellent time to focus on, or discover, our hobbies. Far from being ‘just a pastime’, hobbies can actually help us build some of the soft skills that are essential to our success in the workplace. As with most things leading to our overall well-being, our careers and businesses are beneficiaries of our own self-care. In fact, an article in the Harvard Business Review notes that three critical soft skills are supported by our hobbies:
- Creativity: This is perhaps the most obvious of the three, in terms of how hobbies can help us – especially (but not only) if our hobby is a traditionally creative pursuit like art or music. But how does this help us in business? LinkedIn reports that creativity is the most sought after soft skill in 2020. Creative thinkers can bring new perspectives to problems and challenge conventions (these skills are especially valuable during times of upheaval, when business as usual is not an option).
- The article sees perspective as something akin to empathy, or the ability to take the perspective of another person. The arts in particular can be helpful with this soft skills. Additionally, hobbies give us the perspective that comes with creating space between yourself and the everyday problems you may face during your workday. This space supports the ability to ‘zoom out’ and see things from a different, or most holistic, angle, enabling us to bring more strategic and long-term thinking to the situation. Perspective is also an important tool in stress management, enabling us to place our work stress into a broader context thus making it easier to manage.
- Confidence is a keystone habit. It enables us to build other skills – both hard and soft – that we may need to adapt to changing workplaces and changing times. Hobbies enable us to tackle challenge in a relatively safe and low stakes environment, helping us build our resilience muscles.
Although these three benefits of hobbies are particularly notable, just about every hobby can net us some soft skills benefits: reading, writing, and drama can support the development of our written and oral communication skills; technology hobbies can hone hard technical skills; puzzles of various types support mental acuity and problem solving; team sports and activities promote collaboration and leadership; volunteer work builds empathy. All hobbies give us a positive sense of humility and lifelong learning.
Regardless of whether you enjoy running, gardening, reading, coding, playing baseball, practicing yoga or tackling the crossword in the New York Times, your hobbies are a worthwhile investment.