Made By Mrs M

Don't turn your hobby into your job...

Business, WorkKate Marsden

It’s the dream isn’t it? Getting to do that thing you love doing in your spare time ALL of the time, and being paid for it. Chances are you’re pretty good at whatever this thing is, as you’ve been doing it for years. You might also be in the position I used to be in where you end up disliking your day job to such an extent, that you spend most of your waking hours dreaming of doing pretty much anything else if it will enable your escape.

In my case, the thing I was originally planning to do as my job ended up being my hobby – and I think this happens a lot to those who studied art subjects in particular. Jobs are hard to come by (and of course when I left college the internet didn’t exist…). I think if you can manage to avoid loosing sight of whatever it is you’re aiming to do, and you continue practicing with that aim, the “thing” doesn’t fall into the “hobby” category. In my case though it did, and quite quickly.

Back in the golden days of the day job (yes they did exist!), the hours weren’t too bad and the pay was reasonably good, so my hobbies were plentiful. This was also the time that I completed several short courses at Chelsea College of Art, ran 5ks, 10ks and even a half marathon and still had the time, energy (and cash) for nights out, festivals and holidays.

After the little man was born ALL of my hobbies went out of the window for quite a long time, before designing and making pretty much took over my life. Finally, I had the opportunity to do my “thing” and it was amazing. I ploughed on with this for the best part of three years before coming close to completely burning out last autumn.


I joined the gym at the beginning of December, with the aim of aiding the recovery of my bad back and just generally making myself more cheerful. I’m now nearly 3 months in, and despite Christmas, illness and school holidays getting in the way, it’s going really well. My first two aims have been met – my back isn’t better but it’s better than it’s been in a long time, I really enjoy going to the gym and look forward to being there (I’m quite ratty when I can’t go for whatever reason) and it’s made me realise something – I was missing having a hobby.

I would define a hobby as a thing you spend time doing, that you enjoy and which is absorbing and/or gives you that sense of flow… But most importantly, I think it needs to be something that you NEVER intend to turn into your job. When the job I’d originally planned to do became my hobby, and then my job, it lost it’s magic. That’s not to say that I don’t still love it (in fact having this realisation has in itself helped a lot!) but that there has to be something else.

Now lots of people dream of being yoga teachers or personal trainers as their second career as they love going to the gym and that’s fine too, but the same thing applies… what do you do when the thing you did to wind down becomes work?

Since joining the gym I’m working shorter hours (I go during the day when I have childcare) but I’m getting a lot more work done in less time. I’ve gone from a complete inspiration drought, to having so many ideas I have to try to prioritise and write multiple lists.

I think I’d forgotten just how much I loved being at a nice gym (mine is nice, I decided to invest – I’m one of those people who’s incentivised by a desire not to waste money so this makes me go as often as I possibly can), and just how good I feel once I’ve been going regularly for a few weeks. I think I was helped by the fact that I had no choice but to take it slowly to begin with because of my back – so there wasn’t any of that rushing in and injuring myself, or rushing in and then loosing my momentum.

I know that a lot of you are either in the process of turning that all absorbing hobby into your job (or dream of it), and many have already done so. The desire to do only that and nothing else (to start with at least) can be overwhelming, but finding time for a hobby of some kind is essential. Not only do I feel better for it but my work is benefitting too. Have you had to find a new hobby or did you always have lots?


A footnote…

Now this is not a fitness blog! But a few people have asked me what I’ve been getting up to down at the gym, so this is what it’s amounted to so far… when I joined my back was VERY bad and I was having physio, and under his guidance I started swimming several times a week and using the bike and cross trainer in the gym. I then progressed to BodyBalance classes just before Christmas (these were a firm favourite back in my running days as you’re basically stretching for the best part of an hour) and noticed a huge improvement in my back straight away. I’ve now added BodyPump as well (another old favourite!) and while I was worried this may hurt my back it’s actually made it feel great. I even had a go at a short run and used the rowing machine last week. Oh and an added bonus is that I’ve lost some weight – perhaps I should get myself a nice dress to aim to look nice in on my 40th birthday! No pressure though. After all it’s a hobby!

p.s. The tennis balls… the little man has recently started playing tennis at school so we’ve had a go at that too. I really enjoy playing tennis – rubbish at it of course – but it’s still fun!