Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Choosing a Hobby

By Christina VanGinkel

Hobbies are in abundance, almost as varied, as there are people. From astrology to model building, model trains, collecting postcards to pottery, knitting, crochet, painting, photography, and the list goes on.

With these and all the other many choices, one would think getting started in a hobby would be easy, especially with so many choices to pick from. Sometimes though, even when you know what it is, you would like to explore when it comes to choosing from the overabundance of choices, getting started just leaves you flustered, with no real sense of direction on where to begin. If this describes you, take a few steps back and consider what it is about the hobby itself that has attracted you, and consider some of the pros and cons of the hobby.

Ask yourself what it is that you think you will enjoy about the activity itself.
Ask yourself what you hope to gain by participating, i.e., pleasure, association with others, quiet time?
Is it a group activity or one that is mainly pursued in solitude?
Are you a group type of person, or happier on your own?
Are supplies readily available?
Can you afford it?
Are there any benefits beyond the obvious enjoyment factor, such as a possibility of it creating a secondary income, (Think writing, photography, buying and selling antiques, or selling handcrafts), or health benefits (think of the exercise you could get out geocaching!).

Once you have identified what hobbies attract you and why, if any happen to be group hobbies, such as geocaching, or one represented by any sort of organization, find out if there are any branches of the organizations or local groups close to you. Many groups that focus on a particular hobby often have guides available with tips on starting out, buying guides with information on what other members use or have found to be good or bad buys depending on the hobby itself, and if any sort of equipment is required to partake of the hobby, scuba diving for example, a group might even offer a list of members who have gently sued equipment for sale to other members. Most groups or organizations are a wealth of information to a newbie, always with the interest of expanding their hobby to other interested people.

If you find yourself drawn towards a hobby that is mainly one experienced in solitude, check out your local library or bookstore for any books that might be available on the subject. If a hobby exists, chances are there are at least a handful of titles available.

If numerous tools or supplies are needed to take part in a hobby, if possible, buy used until you know that the hobby is really for you. This can save you both money and frustration if you later decide it is not for you. If you find out you do enjoy whatever it is you are doing, you will most likely always be looking for new, better supplies anyways, so starting out with used equipment is a good excuse when it comes to upgrading!

If you discover that, a hobby you thought was perfect for you is not, join the crowd. It is common for people to delve into a hobby with tons of enthusiasm, only to find out that it is not something they enjoy. Because a hobby should be a stress reliever on at least some level, forcing yourself to participate in a hobby that you realize you do not like, just because you invested a few dollars in supplies, is not healthy. Gather up the items and sell them through one of the local groups that you discovered, or through eBay or some other resale place. If the hobby was crafting related, you could always gather it all up and donate it to a school or nursing home too. Most of these places are always eager to receive supplies related to just about any activity that students or residents might use.

Getting started in a hobby should be above all else, fun. If it is not, the hobby might be better left for someone more attuned to it. Not every hobby is going to be attractive to everyone, this being the reason there are so many hobbies in the first place.

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