However bleak the world can feel we can’t deny we’re living in exciting times. Thanks to the internet and social media we’re able to monetise our passions like never before. We can work in our pyjamas whilst selling our art online, our Instagram accounts can act as our rent free shop window and we can easily work with clients on the other side of the world. The online creative industry is a gift to us all. But there’s a catch. I’ve found monetising my passions of writing and photography to be a slippery slope. You see, these pastimes used to be how I unwound, relaxed and escaped from my 9-5. When your art becomes your work we swim into uncharted waters.
Photography and writing have always been great loves in my life. When I decided to start a blog, it was so I could dive deeper into what made me feel good and construct a home for my creations. I secretly hoped it might turn into something more but I felt so late to the game I was sure I’d missed the boat. I worked extra hard as a result of feeling left behind. I felt I had a lot of catching up to do and before I knew it, what was once my hobby had become my entire life. Switching off became more and more difficult and as this transformation progressed the escape I used to bask in diminished. I was no longer creating just for me, I had everyone else to think about.
When we’re making money from doing what we love it’s understandable to feel like it’s either too good to be true or it has to be hard to be honourable. To make up for the imposter syndrome that arises we can all too easily become addicted to our work, determined to prove ourselves. But there is no finish line in creative business. The to do list never ends and there is no boss to tell us we’ve done a great job and we can go home for a relaxing evening now. When we love doing what we do so much we forget that true happiness, the reason we used to indulge in our passion in the first place is achieved through balance. We need time off. We need rest. We need escape.
I’ve always kept one card up my sleeve. Horses. Riding horses has been the most consistent thing in my life and I’ve never been tempted to try and monetise this. When I noticed my work was keeping me hostage from my other great love, I had a choice to make. Fall into the trap of convincing myself I had no time for hobbies or hang onto the last no strings attached joy in my life. I chose to hang on. And I’m so glad I did.
During the week, when my brain is telling me all I should be doing is working, I make sure I get out and ride before I even open my laptop. I schedule this time into my days before I schedule anything work related to make sure it is prioritised. It can feel indulgent and I can feel riddled with guilt as the clock creeps up to mid-morning, but I know I need this creative time to myself. Riding is where I can escape and it’s meditative for me. It makes me happy, freshens my brain and I always return feeling more motivated to immerse myself in work. I’ve reaped so many benefits from this slice of life outside of work that if it wasn’t riding, I’d make sure it was something else.
As much as we love our creative businesses and all the joy they bring, we also need a life outside of them. We need rest, play and joy just as much as we need to feel fulfilled in our work. Through trial and error I’ve come to believe that this is as essential to us as our previously non-monetised passion used to be before our next meal depended on it. Whatever your creative passion is, I’m encouraging you to indulge in it – no strings attached.
I consider myself lucky to have a hobby I love so much because I know not everyone does. Here are some ideas if you’re looking for your own version of no strings attached joy outside of your creative business:
- Think about what you loved doing as a child as this can often show up the breadcrumbs you need to follow
- Remember you don’t have to be any good at this pursuit, you just have to enjoy it with nobody watching
- Pick something as least ‘Instagrammable’ as possible if you feel like you won’t be able to resist sharing how beautiful your hobby is in exchange for likes
- You don’t need as much time as you might think. You’ll be amazed how much just ten minutes a day will do for you
- Experiment until you find something that feels right. If you’re a creative something like painting, cooking, knitting might feel like a natural fit but don’t be afraid to explore something a little out of your comfort zone if that’s what your gut is telling you. The what doesn’t really matter. It’s the doing that counts.
- If there’s truly nothing else you’re interested in outside of your work and family life, remember you don’t have to have a hobby. Simply remembering to take dedicated time out of your work to live your life is more than enough.