10 Simple Steps to Finding the Perfect Hobby for You
Hobbies beat stress and keep your mind sharp, so get yourself one! Connect (or reconnect) with a pastime you're passionate about with these easy tips.
Commit to finding time for a hobby
Let's clear this up right away: Finding time for a hobby is totally worth it, especially if you feel busy or stressed. Losing yourself in a project you love gives your brain a break from whatever else is bugging you. And working hard on a project boosts self-worth. You feel proud of what you're doing and how you're spending your time. Passive activities, like watching TV or surfing the Web, don't offer the same benefits. Ideally, a hobby gives you escapism (like TV does), but also lets you pursue a passion and feel a sense of purpose. Most hobbies build your community, too, connecting you with friends, new and old, who share your interest.
Avoid fear of trying
Don't feel stuck if you don't know what your passion is right away. You'll get there! But you have to start with being open to trying new things—and have a willingness to fail. You wouldn't expect to ace a test, or a big project at work, without putting in some serious practice time and effort first, would you? Focus on "trying," says psychologist Sanam Hafeez, PsyD. "When you shop for a pair of shoes, you try them on before you buy them. They're new! You have to see if they are a fit. This is the same mindset to have when trying something new. You're gathering data. Look at this as your attempt at making progress on something you aren't good at... yet."
Look for inspiration from your past
How do you know what to try? One strategy is to let your memories be your guide. What hobbies did you enjoy as a kid? Did you play the piano, love drawing, enjoy woodworking, or riding a bike? Were you fascinated by your grandmother's crocheting or your grandfather's cooking? Did you look forward to summer camp so you could put on a play or go hiking in the woods? Looking backward may help you uncover a forgotten fondness, one that you could bring back into your life right now.
Ask around for hobby ideas
What do your friends, neighbors, even colleagues do for fun? Find out! If you're intrigued by someone's stamp collection, coffee-roasting prowess, or movie-going club, you have a ready-made guide to a new area of interest. Come up empty? Remember there's a blog or YouTube channel for every possible interest and skill out there. Browsing Pinterest is a good way to zero in on those bloggers and YouTube personalities who'll inspire you.
Look for inspiration in your daily life
Pay attention to what you enjoy. Maybe it's reading, trying new restaurants, or just catching up with friends on the phone. If you can't think of anything, ask friends or loved ones what they've noticed. You just need a tiny spark of an idea. Say that's "reading." It could lead you to whole range of hobby options, from starting a book club (real or virtual) to volunteering at a library to taking a writing class. (Speaking of inspiring: Don't miss these 10 books by female authors.)
Find a hobby by shopping for it
Troll the aisles of a craft store for inspiration. Pretend you had to spend $50 in the store. What would you buy? What materials, tools, or finished items are you drawn to? "Many craft-store projects are 90 percent done. Buy one and complete that final 10 percent," says Julie McGuffee, a TV host and designer who's been crafting for decades. "It's very satisfying to be able to say you've made something yourself." These project kits are a simple way to try something and see if you like it. If you do, you can make something else, taking on a little more of the work this time.
Go back to school to find a hobby
If you have an idea for an interest you'd like to pursue, look for a related class. If you don't, browse offerings to see what sounds fun. Taking a one-time class is an easy, and usually inexpensive, way to try something out. Consider:
- Community colleges
- Craft stores
- Specialty shops (like yarn stores for knitting and crocheting classes)
- Community centers
- Home improvement stores (for woodworking)
- Plant nurseries (for gardening)
- Kitchen-supply stores (for cooking and baking)
- Art museums
- Make-and-take art studios (these usually offer much more than painting)
- Libraries (many offer dozens of classes and lectures, plus lend tools and equipment)
Try a new hobby with a friend
When you've picked something to try, do it with a pal. "Buddy up!" says Dr. Hafeez. "You'll be more inclined to try something new with someone who also wants to try that same thing. If you've both never tried it before, it's something you can experience together." And if your friend does have some experience in the area, she can be your guide. Can't find a pal who's into what you're into? Browse the topics and options on Meetup, suggests Dr. Hafeez. "Meetup groups allow you to connect with people who have common interests and meet regularly. This leads to new friendships and the exchange of new ideas. You may find things like painting, cooking, or book clubs. When you share an interest with others, you are always encouraged to continue that hobby," she says.
Make a new-hobby plan
Once you have an idea in mind, set up a schedule for working on it, just like you would if you were starting a new exercise plan. Either sign up for a class, or plot out some specific dates and times for pursuing your new interest or learning your new skill. This helps you prioritize what you're doing, and gives you a chance to really see if it's right for you. Plus, it helps to tell others. "When you tell other people about your hobby, they will take an interest—which makes you feel good," says Dr. Hafeez. "If you also share that you're learning how to do something you're horrible at, people will cheer you on. They may even join you!"
Overcome fear of failure
Remember that you're already ahead of the game just by trying something new. "If you don't try, you've failed before you started," says Julie McGuffee. You don't have to show anyone your wood carving or the cake you decorated until you're ready to. But remember that bringing your own touch to what you're doing feels good. "When I taught painting classes, I would show a completed project as a demonstration," McGuffee says. "But then I would put it away so my students wouldn't compare their work to mine. You have to allow your work to be personal. You don't want it to look like the person next to you." (Try this: DIY paper flowers.)