Doesn’t everyone just dream that their passions and hobby could become their full time gig? I’ve talked to countless people who are working to make their work less disparate from what they actually enjoy doing- but what happens when you attain that goal and you actually make your side hobbies your day job?
Yesterday I was out walking my pug Ralph, pondering why I was feeling so off. I now am a full time social media and brand consultant who also blogs on three sites. I cannot tell you how awesome this is- granted, I am not rolling in the dough just yet, but I really love what I do. I get to work from home, walk my dog in the afternoons and really focus on what matters to me.
I can finally say that after moving to Chicago nearly two years ago, I am finally finding my footing as a young professional. I am doing less of what I loathe and more of what I love- a win-win, right? Well what do you do when you’ve cut out the crap you hate and get to do your hobby full time?
When you get to do your hobby full time, sometimes it can feel like you don’t know how to spend your “free” time. Work isn’t really work, and play isn’t really play. Talk about first world problems.
A little backstory: When I started blogging full time in January 2011 I was working a really unfulfilling job and I had just had the painful epiphany that my chosen career path in academia (that involved a graduate program I found horribly unfulfilling) had the bottom fall out of it. Blogging became my #1 hobby- not only because I was broke and it was cheap, but because it was helping me grapple my problems and it was a delightful challenge. As I began pouring myself into it, it opened up my scope of vision to see a way out of the hopeless situation I’d created for myself.
By October of 2011 I’d attending two blogging conferences, made a whole bunch of new friends and built something sustainable enough that I could walk away from a job that was sucking the life out of me and focus on my online ventures while finishing up my graduate program. Very quickly my hobby shifted to my source of income and my all-consuming passion.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that blogging has now taken center stage in my life. It has been able to open so many doors- personally and professionally it’s been life changing, so why have I been feeling so weird?
It hit me yesterday that ever since my hobby turned into my actual full-time work, that I really haven’t taken the time to find other activities to decompress, process and relax with. Blogging used to be my escape from the 9-5 and my life was rather compartmentalized: at work I could think about blogging- to mull things over, to turn off that switch and to let ideas simmer on the backburner.
When I was blogging, I could use it as a way to process my work life, what I wanted to change about it, and to get ideas on what work really should be like. Suddenly the compartments were gone and both my work life and my hobby life were one- no wonder I felt weird.
Additionally, since there were no “on times” and “off times” for my work, it meant for me that taking time to go play, explore and tune out for a bit felt uncomfortable. No longer did a time-clock dictate when I filled different roles in my life so choices as to when I should have fun and clock out were very unclear.
It seems odd that turning a hobby into a profession would make one uncomfortable, but it has that effect. I’ve decided I need to have new hobbies that are separate from my now hobby-day-job but still can be used in complement.
When you become a solopreneur you have to reconstruct how you spend your time, how you compartmentalize your life (if you do), and strike a new balance between the dirty work and stoking the creative fires. Both on-time and off-time are necessary to prevent burn-out but expect that you’ll have to find new hobbies to replace the ones you now make your living from.
That being said, the best fix I can find is to force myself to step away from the computer and focus on new endeavors that will help me decompress but still complement my creative works online. I’m going to focus on crafting again (something that’s been sitting on the backburner) and challenging myself to get out and cultivate my love for photography.
You may find as you transition from one line of work to another, or if you’ve been able to monetize your passions that you are happier than you’ve ever been and totally fulfilled, but yet something still remains “off,” and you can’t quite pin it. It may simply be that your ideas of “work” and “play” have changed and you have to re-evaluate how you can appropriate them…appropriately. (Ha, great sentence there!)
Have you ever experienced this weird shift when you switch jobs or your hobby takes more of a center stage position in your life?