When thinking about goals and resolutions for the new year you might be reminded of all of the times you didn’t quite make it. All the times you started a new hobby, started doing something repetitively, just to end up stopping after a while due to burning out or mere forgetfulness. When thinking about these times that things didn’t go so well, you might stop to think about how you could improve in the future. How next time can be different. Luckily for you, I have the solution. You can keep up with a new hobby by adding some structure to it and setting some hobby projects for yourself to work on.
Whilst this post is geared at hobbies, you can apply it to any area of your life where you find you are unable to keep things going.
Using projects to maintain your motivation for your hobbies is an excellent idea but not a new one. It is based on the premise of working towards smaller goals. You’re just dressing it up in a different way and, hopefully, receiving tangible results each step of the way when completing your projects. An example of what I mean could be learning photography. Your overarching goal is to become a good photographer (let’s ignore the subjective nature of that for now). You might have smaller goals on the path to meeting that primary goal such as visiting a photo gallery, and learning how to do portrait photography. The first smaller goal as a project is possible but perhaps not immediately obvious – perhaps you could produce a piece of work on the gallery about what you experienced and learned, or try to mimic what you see there. The second is clearer, however. Why not start a project to do portrait photography of your close friends or family? In the process of doing so, you will learn how to become a good portrait photographer.
Several benefits come from using projects in your hobbies. Firstly, they provide an excellent way to stay motivated. Using the above example, taking portrait photography of your friends or family gives you a goal to work towards which can keep you engaged in the process. You can stay excited about learning your hobby by moving on to new projects one after the other as you improve your skills. You can look forward to starting, progressing, and completing these tasks. Little boosts of euphoria that can turn a new hobby into a love which you really want to do.
Another benefit is the tangible results you can receive from doing projects. In the portrait photography example, at the end of the project, you will potentially end up with a lovely collection of photos of your friends or family. This is something that you can carry forward and has multiple applications. In my own life, I sometimes print pictures I have taken onto canvas and give them as gifts. A personal and unique gift like a portrait is perhaps one of the best gifts you can give. Further, you’ll be able to look back in the future and have evidence of what you have achieved in your journey. In this example, they can even form part of a portfolio for use in other projects.
Avoiding burnout and recovering from it can be a key benefit of taking up a project in your hobby. You will be able to avoid burnout because you are more engaged in the project, as we talk about above. You can switch things up in your hobby and start a new project to recover from burnout as well. By changing things and starting something new you can reignite the spark of passion you had for the hobby, and hopefully continue to practice the hobby for a long time. Burnouts are common, and can be because of the repetition of a task. Projects (as long as they aren’t too large) avoid this but keep things new and interesting.
The possibilities when it comes to hobby projects are practically endless. Depending on what your hobby is, there is normally no limit but your imagination. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to thinking up hobby projects. Whilst my earlier example about portrait photography was simple enough, they don’t all have to be like that. It is worth noting, however, that making projects too large and complex might cause burnout in itself if there is too much repetition! Projects should be exciting, take less than a month to complete, and help to progress your hobby in some way.
Ideally, your projects should focus on an area of the skill you want to develop.
Here’s a list of some ideas, broken down by hobby, which will hopefully inspire you in your hobby projects:
Avoiding burnout is something we all want to do. Burnout is where you, essentially, just lose all motivation to continue whatever you were doing. Sometimes you might not even notice it happen at first. Maybe you’ve been learning a language every day and then missed a couple of days. Before you know it you’ve left it weeks since you last practiced. Once you realize you haven’t been doing it you come against the issue of not having the motivation to resume. Maybe that is because now you’ve not done it for a while you feel bad about it, or lost some kind of streak.
Being able to maintain your hobby in this way is great for you because having a hobby you enjoy and are motivated in can increase your productivity in other areas of your life, such as at work. Some companies like Google mandate that 20% of employees’ time at work should be spent pursuing activities they find fun, like hobbies. (https://lifehacker.com/why-creative-side-projects-are-good-for-you-1612792201) We can take from this that suffering from burnout, and not engaging with your hobbies, will lower your productivity. That’s not something that most people aspire to and should be avoided where possible!
There are many ways that you can help to avoid burnout, and one of those ways is with projects. The idea is that instead of something being open-ended, like learning a language every day, you have set end dates and goals. For example, you might aim to be able to go to a restaurant and order in French. This can be a project as it is made up of smaller steps, such as learning what you need to say, working on the pronunciation, practicing with it altogether, finding a suitable restaurant, and actually doing it. You might even want to find someone to go with you.
Because you stay focused on this project with smaller goals, you forget about the vastness of the primary goal which is learning French. This enables you to stay focused and motivated to complete the project. Once done, your next project and adventure awaits you.
Getting into the habit of creating projects for your hobbies to stay engaged and motivated means that you’ll not even need to think about keeping up with your hobbies. The only thing you’ll need to consider is what your project will be. Concepts like burnout will almost be a thing of the past, and occur much, much less. You’ll enjoy your hobbies and your life much more, and the bonuses to other areas of your life through increased productivity will be a boon to yourself.
Something that must not be ignored when looking at hobby projects is that they are fun. Ultimately it is this that helps reduce the likelihood of burnout and keeps you engaged with your hobby of choice. Your productivity will benefit and you may well end up with tangible results from your hobby project as well. I’m hopeful that you will be able to start a hobby project now and you’ll experience the benefits of them first hand. I know I personally love them!
Do you already have hobby projects on the go? Let me know what they are in the comments below!