Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to disengage from their businesses and nurture their personal lives. If this feels familiar, consider this: not taking time for relaxation and recreation harms not only your personal life, but also your business.
In other words, having hobbies is healthy for both your body and your business.
Imagine this: you've spent decades building a business, sacrificing almost everything to make it a success. You have family and friends, but you haven't seen as much of them as you wanted over the years, and because you had to stay focused on business, you've grown somewhat distant from them. Your health has suffered too--you felt like you couldn't afford the time to exercise or cook healthy meals, so you've put on weight, your blood pressure is high, and you feel sluggish and exhausted at the end of the day. But there's good news! You've been approached to sell your company at an exorbitant price! You can finally cash in on all those years of hard work! But... what will you do next? What on earth are you going to do to occupy your time after you sell your business?
Hobbies are important to our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our productivity, focus, and general interesting-ness as a person. When we pursue our hobbies, we meet new people, expand our horizons, give our brains a break, and come back to the office refreshed and rejuvenated.
But what do you do when you've been working so hard that you've forgotten what you LIKE to do for fun?
Let me guess, you always remember how much you like to ski when it's summer and in the winter, you dream of the beach. When we first moved to the mountains, we missed the whole first summer of kayaking, tubing, swimming under waterfalls, and horseback riding. Why? Well, we were busy unpacking and working, but we also didn't have a plan for fun activities. Since we didn't know what to do, we reinstated one of my favorite reminders: an activities board. We put up a dry erase board in our kitchen and every time we think of something fun to do (or someone says "you have to go to ____"), we write it on the board. This way when we have time off, we don't have to search for an activity--we just pick something off the board. (You can also create an idea jar: write activities on slips of paper and pull one out on your day off.)
Now that you know how to organize and plan your fun-time activities with minimal effort, let's look at what you actually might want to do with your leisure time. As I mentioned originally, having hobbies outside of work is critical to living a balanced life. So what are the best hobbies for business owners and why?
1. Spend time outdoors.
Depending on where you live there are a wide variety of potential outdoor hobbies you can pursue. Walking, hiking, skiing, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, surfing, bird-watching, golfing, and joining a local amateur sports league are all good examples. Not only do most outdoor activities require you to move your body in one way or another (contributing to physical health and fitness), looking at and being in nature has been shown to reduce your blood pressure and help reduce the physiological and psychological effects of stress. In other words, being outside is good for your insides!
2. Support causes that matter.
Nowadays, social activism is practically required in business. Mazda is doing a whole Christmas campaign about how they'll give back if you buy their cars. Consumers want to do business with people who care about something other than making money, so when you pursue something you care about, not only are you helping the community (children, animals, the environment, etc.), you're also benefitting your brand.
I recently spoke with Ron Lampert, a VP at Thresholds (a company that "provides healthcare, housing, and hope for thousands of persons with mental illnesses") and one of the reasons he credited them being named one of the Chicago Tribune's Top 100 Workplaces of 2014 was how much everyone in the company--from management to staff--cares about what they do in their community.
Find a cause that YOU care about and pursue it. You'll most likely connect with potential new friends, colleagues, and clients, and even if you don't, you'll feel good about helping others.
3. Engage in creative pursuits.
Creativity is the mother of innovation, so if you want to come up with new ideas for your products and services, you need to flex your creativity muscle. The type of creative activities doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that you're pursuing them. Color in a coloring book, take up a new arts and crafts project, paint a room in your house, learn ballroom dancing, sing or learn a musical instrument, arrange flowers, build a table (or a bird house), play chess, garden, restore an old car, journal/ write poetry, take photographs, homebrew a craft beer, hone your baking skills, or become an amateur chef. Any activity that helps you think differently in life can help you think creatively in business!
Bonus Tip: Still not sure? Become a connoisseur! Choose something you really like (beer/ wine, books, art, etc.) and learn more about it. You never know, your extracurricular passions could help your business in ways you've never even imagined!
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