Last week we talked about carefully choosing new ideas from the “inspiration overload.” This week I want to bring the discussion around to the hobbies we’ve already chosen. Let’s just say that for the last few years I’ve had fun trying out lots of new hobbies, anything I was interested in, and recently I’ve been trying to focus in to the few I most enjoy. That means I’ve had to release a few old hobbies to make more room for how my life has changed.
A long time ago I mentioned how some people can feel compelled to finish watching a movie even when it’s lame. (I’m one of those people.) You might feel compelled to finish a craft project, even if you don’t care about it any more.
Guess what? Your project won’t have hurt feelings if you stop working on it and leave it unfinished. No one else will think less of you.
When you work on a hobby, it helps to know why you enjoy it so much.
- Am I doing it to learn a new skill?
- Am I doing it because I enjoy the process?
- Am I doing it because I enjoy the result?
A couple of years ago I loved making a garden on our apartment balcony, and I decided that since we were growing plants, why not grow something we could eat? I chose an orange tree. There’s a reason no one grows citrus trees in that part of our state, but I was undaunted.
For the next year we careful tended to that tree, bringing buckets of water to it in the hot summer, moving it inside in the winter. Worrying about it when all the leaves fell off. Giving it showers and compost and iron when it looked pitiful. Painstakingly taking care to remove scale organically, because who wants to eat an orange with pesticide on it? We waited and watched for our tree to bear fruit.
Finally the tree produced one beautiful, round orange. It grew bigger and turned from green to orange, and then on Christmas Day we picked it. We cut into that orange with anticipation of tasting that sweet, organic juice, but… it wasn’t that delicious, in fact, we didn’t even finish eating it.
A few days later Doug mentioned that he was glad we had the tree, but he thought it was time to see it go, and I agreed. The story ends when I listed it for free on Craigslist and within an hour received forty responses. A lady came and picked it up, and I hope she likes her new tree. That was the most expensive orange I ever had.
That experience was more about learning a new skill, and we liked how the tree enhanced our garden balcony. I think I’ll choose low-maintenance plants next time. I figured out that I was putting more into it than I was getting back.
When I evaluate my hobbies, I ask these questions:
1. Is this hobby giving back to me as much as I’m putting into it? (like my citrus tree)
2. Was I just interested in learning about it? Am I done now and ready to move on?
3. Am I more interested in the finished result than the process?
I feel this way about knitting. I like the idea of knitting, but mostly I just want a finished baby hat. Someone else who enjoys the process can make it, and I can buy it from them on Etsy.
4. And probably the most painful question: Is shopping for supplies more fun than the real hobby?
The lesson we learned last week was:
Just because I could, doesn’t mean I should.
This week’s lesson can be:
Just because you started it, you don’t have to finish it.