By Lisa Hester, Senior Account Manager

We all want to be the best at our profession. We want not just to earn a paycheck, but to excel at what we do “for a living” and have an impact on who we work with and for. Honing our professional skills is critical, especially in this rapid-paced world we live in where change and advances are an everyday occurrence.

But equally as important as focusing on your profession is developing a hobby or hobbies outside of work. Think of it not as a pet project but as a “passion project” (although, if you’re like me, the passion project could involve pets, as well!).

Working on a project outside of work is likely going to build different skills and, through your enjoyment, give you energy. And having energy is half the battle in staying motivated.

Permit yourself to findthe time to cultivate an interest and take it to the next level…read about it, study it, then get your head and hands around it. It’s OK If you get dirty – or clean things up – in the process. The main point is that you delve right in and envelop yourself in your passion.

For me, it’s working with homeless and shelter pets. It’s tough, it’s emotional, but it’s also extremely rewarding…for me. My failures drive me to work harder….as do my successes. Those are the kinds of lessons you want to take from your home life – from your hobby or passion – into the work world. The creativity you develop to help you succeed at your free-time activities will boost your professional experiences,as well.

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Having a hobby you are passionate about often generates or improves:

  • Energy, exhilaration
  • Problem-solving – new ways to look at issues/challenges
  • Networking skills and opportunities and skill
  • Organizational skills
  • New perspectives – on life, on others and on what others like you are doing
  • Squishing that “procrastination bug”
  • New perspectives – on life, on others and on what others like you are doing
  • Motivation – especially to stay current on “the latest”
  • Goal-setting and achievement-setting
  • Work-life balance/harmony

While I’ve learned these things from experience, consider also the findings of this recent study:

Researchers from San Francisco State University looked at how creative activities like knitting, cooking, painting, photography, gardening or what-have-you affect work performance. In a two-part study the team of psychologists asked 341 professionals about their pastimes and also asked them to rate both their level of creativity at work and the level to which they support their colleagues. Another group of 92 Air Force Captains also gave information about their after hours pursuits and had their evaluations of job performance examined.

“We found that in general, the more you engage in creative activities, the better you’ll do,” said the study’s lead author Kevin Eschleman, an assistant professor of psychology at SFSU.

So jump right in to a new hobby this weekend. And bring back your “lessons learned” to the workplace. You’ll see and feel the difference at both work and home.