A great place to start when you’re thinking about your career direction is to consider the environments and activities that you naturally gravitate towards.
However, there’s one particular way this question of ‘what do I like?’ can be applied that actually isn’t helpful. I call this the hobby hoax.
The hobby hoax occurs when you have a passing interest in a particular topic. For example, you remember enjoying working through a book on calligraphy. Or you had a blast taking a tap dance class with a friend. You had fun!
But should you move into a career in one of these areas?
Here’s a quick litmus test to see if the hobby you enjoyed in passing will hold water as a career.
When you think about doing that particular activity are you thinking about it solely from the perspective of improving your own skills? Like becoming a better mime? Or finally becoming fluent in Chinese?
You’re probably on the wrong track if you’re envisioning a lot of investment in learning and improving yourself instead of contributing to others.
I’ve seen plenty of people go into hobby professions successfully. (A hobby profession is one where there are a select group of people who make their living in that field, and there are also many people who enjoy participating in that activity in an amateur or hobby-like way. Athletics, arts, lifestyle, and languages are all examples of these fields.)
What differentiates people who work in a hobby profession from those who enjoy doing the activity on the weekend is the level of investment and enthusiasm that they have for their topic. For them it’s the thing that they can’t not do. And their skill level is such that when they do their work they can be of benefit to others.
My point here is not to discourage you from going into a profession that relates to a hobby you enjoy. It’s just to make the subtle distinction that sometimes considering a fleeting interest as a career possibility can actually take you down an unfruitful path. Think about it. Spending time in a classroom environment bettering your skills at a hobby can actually be a way to hide from what you have to offer the world.
Instead, be bold, and show us what you’ve really got.
Have you ever gotten sidetracked by thinking a hobby-like interest could be a career? Leave a comment with your thoughts below!
I’ve also seen it the other way around. When somebody really loves a hobby, and they turn it into a business and then they hate it. They hate the business side of it, managing it, dealing with customers, or other things they are now REQUIRED to do in order to make money at it.
Interesting. I’ve heard of this phenomenon many times second hand, but have never witnessed it for myself. I’ve always wondered if it is the business side of things that turns people off or if it is a lack of knowledge of how to run a business well. I sort of suspect the latter…
Thanks for stopping by EW!
I think I am experiencing this kind of situation right now. I just graduated in college. It is related to my sort of hobby – arts, advertising, multimedia, etc. I am now working on a job related to it and I am not happy on what I am doing at all. I feel that I have been doing it ever since I was a kid, I want new things to do. I am just so confused right now on what I want to do in my life.
Sorry to hear that you’re having a tough time Yume. I’m not entirely sure of your situation from what you wrote, but I will say that I’ve seen a lot of people who feel less than thrilled with the transition from college to the working world. In fact, many people find it takes one to two years to get acclimated to the lifestyle change. Hang in there, and know that your first job out of school will not define your career for the rest of your life!
I feel that I am not enthusiastic on what I am doing. I am unmotivated and it feels that there is something lacking in myself right now. Sometimes I wonder, should a career be like this? Did I made a right choice? I remember what you wrote on this entry about, ‘their skill level is such that when they do their work they can be of benefit to others.’ Right now, I think I am working only for my self-satisfaction but not for others. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I am not happy on what I am doing right now. I want to work not for myself but for the sake of others.
Thank you Ms. Alison for this wonderful article and for replying to my comment. Sorry if I express my worries here. I just love your blog, it helps me get through tough times.
Thanks for your kinds words Yume!
I’m still wondering about the length of time you’ve been at your job. If you just graduated it couldn’t have been that long. There’s a learning curve at any job, and many entry level jobs are not the most thrilling. Nor do they have much direct interaction with clients.
Take a look at people who are farther along in their career in your industry/ company. Does what they’re doing look appealing and more in line with what you want to be doing? Ask them questions to get a clearer picture of what their day-to-day work is like. If what you see and hear sounds good, then you just need to hang in there a bit longer to get through the beginning stages of your career. If what you hear is not so great, then try to figure out if what you don’t like is company specific or industry specific and modify your career plan accordingly.