We may be in the depths of winter, but before you blink, it’ll be spring. Then the long, balmy summer nights will be here, and suddenly—holy sh*t—it’s the holidays again.
When next winter arrives on your doorstep, how do you want to feel? More alive, inspired, and full? Do you want to feel more like who you really are, more connected to the inner you, and more fire in your spirit?
Well, there’s a shortcut to achieving that: setting aside at least four to six hours per week to do what you love. Block off chunks of time in your calendar like any other non-negotiable appointment.
Whether your dream is to make your hobby a priority during the busy workweek or to make your passion profitable by starting a side gig, there is no time like the present to begin using your natural talents to elevate your spirit (and maybe even your bank balance).
When you make your passions as important as your workouts, date nights, and undying commitment to Bravo, amazing things start to happen.
Here are just a few of the hobbies and side hustles my clients have picked up: singing part-time, creating beautiful aprons, starting a high-end matchmaking service, health coaching, creating organic skin-care products, customizing healthy family meal plans on a budget, designing custom bras, making travel plans, helping entrepreneurs create high-impact personal brands, and writing a novel. Phew. The options are truly unlimited and endless!
No matter your interest, pursuing it can revolutionize your life. When you make your passions as important as your workouts, date nights, and undying commitment to Bravo, amazing things start to happen. Here are three of them.
3 Happy Side Effects
1. You’ll be a better friend, partner, and relative.
Have you ever noticed that when someone is engaged in doing something they love—volunteering for a cause close to their heart, typing away at their blog, planning a travel adventure, knitting their new nephew a perfect beanie—they seem happier? There’s a glow, a beam, and a certain magic in people who are proactively doing something that matters to them.
And the beauty is that when we feel happier, we radiate this happiness no matter where we are. Our lives cannot be compartmentalized (work, sleep, eat, relationships), and no one is siloed off from others without overlap (me, my mom, my husband, my friends, my boss). Our existence is all part of one gorgeous, sometimes messy, complete whole. And when you are happier, every relationship and aspect of your life will improve and feel more connected.
2. You’ll alleviate sadness.
When I was in corporate sales, I thought I was pretty happy. The money was great, and I traveled and went out a lot. As an extrovert I was used to people commenting on my cheerful, upbeat attitude. But when Sundays rolled around, I’d start to feel down just thinking about the week ahead.
When I finally started to coach and write actively on the side (and started making great money doing it, which felt like the biggest bonus on the planet), I really felt the way I acted. People said I looked better. I felt lighter and led by a deeper sense of purpose. Every spare second in my life was allocated, without neglecting my valued meditation and downtime.
I replaced long boozy brunches (to alleviate my Sunday back-to-work blues) with penning articles and helping people work through their relationship and career struggles. This left no time for my own whimsical, often self-indulgent, depressive moods at the end of every weekend.
3. You’ll enjoy your day job more.
Win-win, right? If you think the only point of your job is a paycheck, living life with more purpose outside the office will help you care a lot less about being unsatisfied at work. In fact, when I was employed and coaching on the side, the money I was making took all financial pressure off my business, which, funnily enough, helped it grow so rapidly. I also loved jetting out of the office twice a week to meet clients and using my weekends more wisely. My life and work mattered.
The same goes for having a consistent, real hobby. I worked with an engineer who started attending improv classes twice a week and did stand-up around New York City every month—unpaid. This changed his attitude at work: He was not a complainer like a lot of the other people on his team. His passion gave him balance and more intentionality in his life, and, hey, he was having a ton of fun!
The Bottom Line
Why not make passion a priority this year? There’s no good reason to delay. Whether doing what you love garners extra cash or not, the benefits are awesome and unlimited. Some of the most impactful innovations were created on the side, such as Spanx (inventor Sara Blakely sold fax machines full-time while creating the game-changing hosiery) and Pitch Perfect (the author wrote the entire thing on the subway during her commute to work).
What would you like to make happen this year? You never know—it could be the start of not just your new calendar but your new story. How will yours begin?
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for her free weekly wellness tips on her website, and check back every Tuesday for her latest column!