What Happens When Your Hobby Becomes Your Work

This post title could just have easily had a question mark on the end, because I am nowhere near figuring this out. In fact, I’ve only just realised turning my blog into my business constitutes as such a thing, and has subsequently left a free-time activity vacuum in my life. The realisation came a few weeks ago, when after a busy week of calls, workshops and travelling I’d promised myself a Sunday off. Like, properly off, not even thinking about work, and absolutely none of my usual weekend tinkerings.

Close up of a steaming tea cup on a pile of books and a blanket

But when the Sunday arrived I had no idea what to do. In fact, I weirdly ended up spending around 2 hours researching hotels in Wales and Northern England, looking at the pictures and the restaurant menus – and we’re not even planning a trip. It was like I’d forgotten how to exist in the real world.

So because it’s me, that started a cycle of over-thinking. I’m also not sleeping particularly well (any advice enthusiastically welcomed), so I’d lie awake at night staring into the abyss thinking I had a lack of identity, and feeling somewhat hollow. I felt as though my Instagram feed is a theatre set, propped up with spindly pine struts and behind it is dark nothingness. In the cold light of day I am aware of how over-dramatic this is, but you know how your thoughts get at 2am.

Basket of foliage and greenery

Now before you click away thinking ‘screw you moaning about your dream life’, let me clarify that I know I am speaking from a privileged position here. Every day I am grateful that I am able to sit down and do something I love and not have to answer to anyone else, and that drives me to help others do the same through my coaching and content. But actually, not having anything else in my life besides this work, however meaningful, actually makes me bad at my job. Because I have nothing to write about.

Every week I dread sitting down to write this Slow Down Sunday post, because I never really have anything to say. There’s nothing particularly ‘lifestyle’ about my lifestyle, nothing I glean in my days that will add value to yours. And mostly I feel like a big fat fraud. I’m not practising what I preach, not making time for slowness, not living a whole and fulfilled life. And that’s something that’s really come to a head for me.

Tea on a book on a blanket on a windowsill

So if you’re wondering what happens when your hobby becomes your job, I think I’m in phase two. Phase one is Obliviousness: a total, ‘can’t believe my luck’, whole-hearted throwing of yourself into it. Phase two is Realisation. It’s noticing the great hole that appeared, the hobby vacancy in your life. And there also seems to be a whole lot of guilt and shame wrapped up in this phase too. Fun, right?!

So what’s phase three? Well I’m going to be really intentional about this and make my own phase three. And it’s going to be Reconciliation. Taking steps to fill in my free time void, but also give my work a damn break. I love it, and it’s ok that I love it and that it’s something I want to spend my time doing. I just need to tip the scales the other way a few grams and not have it be the only thing I enjoy. Just like you can’t have one person fulfil all your relationship needs, so one activity can’t fulfil all your joyful needs.

Take today, for example. It’s a bright and crisp Sunday. I took the dog for a walk in the morning and lingered a few extra minutes at the river bank with my eyes closed listening to the lap of the water. I went and got myself a frothy coffee and pastry, and then I sat down to write. Having had a morning of small decadences, I felt more invigorated to write a Slow Down Sunday post than I have in, well, months.

I feel light.

Row of Welsh stone cottages

So if you’re joining me in phase 3, or even just in regaining some balance or time for you, here’s an idea to help us stick to it. It’s actually an idea from @pandora_lotte who commented on one of my Instagram posts a week or so ago, and it stuck with me. She suggested keeping a weekly list of ‘things I did for myself’. I know that if I’d been keeping that list the last couple of weeks it would have been empty, apart from maybe a candlelit bath one night when I was really tired (hello again, fraudy feelings).

So from now on, I’m going to plan the things I want to be on that list and make sure I do them. And I’m saying this here because, as an Obliger, I’m more or less incapable of doing something without outside accountability (which is also one of the reasons my e-course won’t be launching in December 🙈). So I hope we can all hold each other accountable and cheer us all on.

Here are some of the things I’d like to do each week, starting small:

  • one yoga video a week
  • visit somewhere outside of the town
  • go out for lunch
  • read something that’s not on a screen
  • work on the craft project I started and abandoned
  • bake something

Feel free to use some of these, and add your own – I’d love to know what you’re doing. And hopefully by the new year they’ll have become such a part of my routine that you’ll be able to read about them here 😊.

Have you turned your hobby into work? How did you fill the void?

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What Happens When Your Hobby Becomes Your Work

  • Everything you’ve said in this post rang true with me. I turned my hobby into my work when I left my job to focus full-time on my blog and freelance writing. I absolutely love it – I look forward to it every day – but it does mean I find it impossible to switch off. I’ve had really bad insomnia over the last couple of months – to the extent where I literally don’t sleep at all some nights – and I’m always in work mode to a certain extent. I know it’s early days and I need to focus on finding some balance. I certainly wouldn’t change it for the world, though!

  • I’d love to turn my blog into my full time job but I can definitely see how there’s stage two the “what do I do with my day” now phase! X

  • Sarah Starling

    This is so interesting! Lots of food for thought.