If there's one thing that we all know for certain about New Year's resolutions, it's this: They're hard to keep. In the weeks after we set our goals, it seems like that initial spark dissolves into the same familiar routines. But what if we've been going about this all wrong? Instead of focusing on what we should do to better ourselves, maybe we should focus on something we can try.
In a story published on The Cut, writer Susie Neilson makes a strong case for developing hobbies based on her experience at a South African dinner. She was asked what she does—a question most Americans would answer with their job titles—and found that others around her replied with activities outside of work.
"Some said they were surfers; others said they hiked, and many played music," Neilson writes. "Some people said they had been trying to improve their cooking skills. Others talked about their kids."
These types of answers aren't the typical American response to "What do you do?" since about half of those employed told a recent Pew survey that they identify most with their jobs. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it could also set us up for problems. Neilson found that when we identify with a few roles, such as "wife" and "worker," it's easier for larger portions of our self-worth to get derailed when those roles face challenges. So how can we keep that from happening? By taking up new hobbies.
"You're complex — that's what makes you human," she writes. "And the more you realize your own complexity, the happier you will be."
Hobbies allow us to see ourselves as dimensional people whose interests go beyond what we do for a paycheck. Sure, we all know that there's more to life than work, but devoting ourselves to a new project that's just for fun—whether it's learning ceramics or how to play tennis, for instance—can help us act on it. In the end, we'll feel more balanced and recharged.
So here's to starting a hobby in 2018, because it may just be the new healthy habit that sticks.
Need some hobby ideas? Try out these budget-friendly options.