Flash Friday: How Important are Hobbies and Does their Role Change?

Today is Flash Friday – when a question is answered from both the 40-something and 20-something perspective. Joining me on this mission is Molly Ford of Smart Pretty and Awkward. Today’s question digs into the topic of how hobbies change from 20 to 40. Don’t hesitate to tell us what your hobby is and how it fits into your life. 

The 20-Something Perspective, by Molly Ford

Everyone needs a creative outlet to stay sane—something not tied to work that simply brings you joy. Taking the time to find and establish hobbies in your 20’s can lay down patterns of prioritizing relaxation and enjoyment into your life as you grow older.

Lauren, a 26-year-old wife and stay-at-home mom of two young children, is quite busy but always makes time for her hobby of cross-stitching.  Her grandmother taught her how to cross-stitch whens she was younger, and after her grandmother’s passing a few years ago, Lauren inherited all of her grandmother’s cross-stitch supplies.

Lauren loves her crafting hobby, and her advice to other 20-somethings looking for a hobby is to “find something small that you love to do and just start doing it!  If you find simple joy in stringing beads or making patterns, then head to a craft store and just walk up and down the jewelry supply aisles.  Something is bound to catch your eye!  Also, there are tons of resources on the Internet.  If you see something that looks fun or that you are just wanting more information about, start searching — websites, tutorials, forums — you never know what you might find.  It’s also good to get to know other people who share the same interests as you do.  Maybe they have a hobby that they wouldn’t mind teaching you how to do.”

For Holly, an almost twenty-something, her hobbies are reading and walking outside, especially in the fall. Reading seems to be a popular hobby, as Rebecca also likes to read, as well as blog, dance, do yoga and crafts. Isabella, a 20-something student, says she classifies a hobby as “anything that de-stresses you—for me, its running.”

And sometimes a fun new hobby can eventually become a gateway into a new career; imagine what you would want to do for work if money was no object. For me personally, that was writing, and over the past three years of “hobby-blogging” the blog has transitioned into paid work. Sometimes you can transition a hobby into a profession (like freelance writing or being a yoga trainer) over time.

Some other ideas for hobbies at any age: aerobics, volunteering, singing, playing or listening to musical instruments, blogging, swimming, beading, photography, collecting (antiques, vintage clothes, etc.), attending films, making films, and more.

What do 40-something’s do for fun, and did they start their hobbies in their 20’s?

The 40-something Perspective, by Christina Vuleta

Hobbies are important to 40-somethings for some of the same reasons that 20-somethings cite but for many they have gained in importance. Hobbies shift from the pursuit of happiness to the fulfillment of happiness, from career builders to careers and from connecting to new people to connecting to the people you love.

For this 40-something producer turned artist from California hobbies have become more important. She notes that many women turn their hobbies into a career. As for her, they have become instruments of happiness:

“In my 20’s I was more about exploration and gathering “material” or life’s experiences. Today — writing, photography, sailing, cooking, gardening, guitar, surfing, swimming –would you call those hobbies?  If so, these all play a very important role in the guide to my happiness.”

This 40-something PR executive no longer feels the need to use hobbies as a career builder:

“The only change is that when I was younger, I chose hobbies that would help with networking and meeting new people in order to get ahead in my career.  Now I choose hobbies that just make me happy.”

This 40-something financial advisor considers traveling her most treasured hobby. As she matures her taste in travel has too. She now seeks more internal than external rewards:

“I used to view travel as both a hobby and an escape. Fun beach towns were the ‘must see’ places in my 20s and early 30s.  St. Tropez was on top of that list but now I am interested in places with more history and depth.  Trips in my late 30s and early 40s ranged from Machu Picchu to Auschwitz and now Cuba and Petra are top on my list.   The need to explore and escape is still important – but it has evolved to incorporate many more layers and a greater desire to further explore the history, culture, food and nuances of places I visit.”

Similar to 20-something women, many 40-somethings seek connection from their hobbies. This 40-something consultant finds the only difference is that today it’s also about connecting with her spouse:

“My hobbies have remained the same.  I love sports – running, biking, tennis, swimming. I feel tremendously better after I exercise.  These hobbies are also important to me because they connect me with my spouse (and in the past friends). Before I had children, my husband and I did a lot of sports together.  Now whenever we have time, we usually do something athletic together. “

Hobbies can also provide a way to continually try new things. The 40-something woman above also loves traveling and cooking for just that reason:

“I like trying new things and cooking allows me to do that on a regular basis. I have to do it anyway and I might as well enjoy it than dread it.”

Lastly for this woman hobbies have woven a consistent thread throughout her life, connecting her both to herself and to her family.

 “You spend a lifetime cultivating hobbies which are a reflection of your interests.  Mine seem to be part of my DNA or influenced by my parents.

My mother is an interior designer and I spent the bulk of my career in fashion design and now collect vintage furniture. My parents were active in tennis and coaching football and in turn I too have been active.  While the outlet for my activity has changed from horseback riding and swimming to yoga and kickboxing, the interest remains the same.

My love of music and art have literally influenced my whole life, from what I listened to and looked like to where I went and who I hung out…ultimately leading me to a career in fashion in NYC.

I grew up in a home where cooking and eating as a family was part of our daily life and I have evolved into a person that loves to cook and entertain.  Many things can influence the evolution of your hobbies, but your interests you carry with you forever.”

Well said! Thank you Molly and to everyone who responded.

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