Sunday, December 31, 2006

Scaling Back the Hobby Plans

With the new year approaching, many people are coming up with ideas for how to work on their hobbies throughout 2007. I have written about this issue and have thought about it as well for my own hobbies. This morning I even sat down and worked out a list of what I want to do with my hobbies this year. Then I realized that it probably is in vain. After all, I would love to spend more time with my hobbies, but with a toddler and a baby due in January, it may not be realistic.

In fact, if you are like me, you know in the back of your mind that the list of things you would like to do will fall to the wayside, never to be used again. Instead of putting yourself in that situation, try scaling back what you want from your hobbies. Dare I suggest you go without a list? Some people simply enjoy their hobbies, and they may say that they would like to spend more time biking, but that is it. They do not set out anything more concrete. Those people probably will not spend much more time biking in 2007 than they did in 2006 because they did not prepare. Still those people will not enter 2008 thinking that they did not accomplish anything on their list for biking.

A better solution that cramming your want to list or not creating anything concrete is to have a goal for your hobby. You do not have to do this only at the new year. In fact, you should work on your goals frequently and change them when needed. I will share with you an example from my own life. Over the past three years, I have had some health problems that have led to a more sedentary life than before. Though my health problems are solved, I have not worked time into my life schedule to do more physical activity. That is one thing I want to change in 2007.

There was a time when I ran almost every day and really enjoyed it. I do not think I have the time (or the energy) for that right now, but I can still work to spend more time running. I have set my goal as participating in a 5K run that happens near us in October every year. While it is not a huge goal, it is one that I can work for throughout the year. I can come up with concrete plans for spending more time running, and I can reach a specific goal without overbooking myself.

You should look at your hobbies in the same way. Think about one small thing you can do with your hobby this year. Perhaps you want to get that ham radio that you purchased at a yard sale fixed. Perhaps you have a collection of political buttons from the twentieth century. You could endeavor to put them into marked display cases this year. You would not be committing yourself to a huge time to spend on your hobby, but you would give yourself a specific goal.

You can set a date for the goal or just do it as it comes. I would suggest setting a date only because we tend to put off things we enjoy for work when we are not on any time schedule. Most people work with deadlines, even ones they created themselves, much better than they do with no deadline.

The important point to remember is that you can get overwhelmed with your plans for your hobby. That overwhelming feeling can itself be defeating, and you may end up spending no time on your hobby because you wanted to do too much. Start out slowly and work your way up. If you set a goal for three months out, then you may have better luck. If you want to get back into painting, then try to set a goal to paint a set of three terra cotta pots by the end of March. Then at the end of March, you will know whether you have reached your goal. If not, re-evaluate. Why did you not get there? Can you do it by June? Should you set a different goal?

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