The Importance of Cultivating Hobbies

My father in law recently got his green card and has been staying with us the last 2 months.  He’s a great guy and always friendly and good-natured.  We love having him here, but he also acts as a living, breathing warning sign about what life might be like when we get older, especially if both my wife and I don’t make it to old age together.

The problem is that he spends large parts of the day doing nothing.  This can mean sharing funny memes from WhatsApp on his phone, watching movies on his iPad, or literally just sitting there.  He doesn’t have any hobbies or interests.  In his working life he focused on his time around the office.  In the weekends his wife (my late mother-in-law) was in charge of planning trips and parties, and he just followed her lead.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing in the moment, but it has left him less-whole than he could be now that he’s unexpectedly alone again.

I’ll stop picking on him now, but you get the idea.  When you retire, no matter if it’s at 35 or 65 you need something to do all day that’s not just staring blindly at your screens, scrolling through Facebook or YouTube.  I prefer having several things to do, several interests and hobbies.  This way, if you’re unable to do any one of them you’re not totally lost.

Here are some of mine:

This blog – This is a relatively new hobby as I’ve only got about a dozen posts so far, but I’ve enjoyed it thus far.  It fills my “contribute to society” bucket while still giving me tremendous flexibility to work on it when I have the time and the motivation.  As my readership increases I hope to use it to further increase my sense of community with others in the FIRE movement.

Skiing – Pretty much my favorite physical activity.  I ski at least once a week during the ski season.  It’s great exercise, I get to hang out in nature with beautiful winter views everywhere you look, and I’ve made some good “mid-week” friends that I get to spend time with all day on the chair lifts.

Gym – An inexpensive gym opened up nearby a few months ago and it’s really brought some structure to my days.  It’s close and convenient to get to, and since I hate wasting money (even though the price wasn’t bad) I plan that into my day most weekdays.  It gives me a great place to get physical exercise no matter what the weather is outside.  I’ve always been a reasonably fast runner and have gravitated toward cardio my whole life, but this time around I’m really focusing on strength training as well.  I get to learn a new skill, get stronger, and get healthier at the same time.

House Projects – I am not a skilled carpenter like Mr. Money Mustache but I enjoy making small to moderate improvements in my home.  I get a sense of pride when I think about how different my kitchen looked when we moved in..before I installed the butcher block countertops that I built, made a pot/pan rack and shelves along the once blank wall, put up a tile backsplash, etc.  We have repainted nearly every room in the house at this point, replaced the moldings in our finished basement, rejuvenated our once dying yard, and much more.  It can be scary at first but in this case YouTube actually is your friend, as pretty much every possible home project has already been attempted and videoed.  You just have to have the guts to attempt it yourself.

Woodworking – Similarly, I’ve taken to moderate woodworking projects as well.  So far I’ve built the aforementioned butcher block countertops, a matching coffee table/side table for our basement hangout area, and a shoe rack (my first project).

Reading – I’ll admit, I’d love to be more into reading books than I am.  I often read the first few pages of a book and can’t stay motivated to keep going when I don’t yet know the characters or premise.  When I DO get over that hump though, it really is a great way to spend some time.  When I find the right book I love getting away to another world for a little while (fiction) or learning a new concept much more in-depth than a blog post (non-fiction).

Mystery Shopping – Weird to call this one a hobby but it’s fun once in awhile to get a free meal (plus make a few bucks) and do some detective work to make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to at a given place of business…more on this another time!

Road Biking/Mountain Biking – In the Summer, skiing gets replaced by mountain biking for a similar thrill.  I am not nearly as skilled a mountain biker so I take it slow…but it’s great exercise and a fun and challenging way to spend time outdoors.

More : Hiking, Camping/Backpacking, Hanging with the dogs

Future Hobbies I hope to get into soon: Learn Spanish Through Duolingo, Build a new HTPC out of a Raspberry Pi

1 thought on “The Importance of Cultivating Hobbies

  • I definitely agree it is very important to have hobbies. My wife and I just had our first child, so I’m on paternity leave from my day job. While I’m still working my side job at CreditCage, I have a ton of free time at home right now while adjusting to the #dadlife. I’ve realized that I don’t really have any hobbies outside of work. I’ve gotten so accustomed to working almost 24/7 that I don’t know what to do with this free time. Definitely something I need to fix!

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