On my way to the airport this morning, I was catching up on a few blogs on my phone and came across Carla’s Currently Lately post. In it, she talks about her desire to find a hobby, and raised some interesting points around defining hobbies. Does something count as a hobby if, like watching movies and reading books, it’s something everyone does? (Does everyone read books lately or has it been taken over by “screen time”? Maybe that is distinguishing after all.) If you’re going to talk about hobbies as part of who you are, shouldn’t they be distinctive and unique?
Sometimes, when people ask about my own hobbies, it’s hard to know what to say – because, like Carla, I think that a lot of the things I do are somewhat mundane. I like to read, and I’d say my annual goal of 100 books a year (even if I didn’t hit it last year and am not on track for it this year) means that I read more than most… but quantity doesn’t really make something interesting or noteworthy. Conversely, I like to cook, but I only get the opportunity to do that a few times a week and it’s usually something super simple (everything-in-the-crisper-drawer stir fry FTW!). I like to work out, but I’m not consistent about doing so lately. (My secret goal, which I confessed to Adam on Monday, is to get back to daily workouts… but it seemed boring to blog about that since how many times have I made that promise and then fallen off the wagon?) Really, when it comes down to it, my “hobbies” aren’t anything special and not anything to talk about.
So when I’m “networking” (great article on networking tips over at Full Contact) or meeting someone for the first time, how do I explain who I am and what I do? I’m incredibly happy with my life lately, but it’s not in ways that are measurable and explainable. I love the mundane day-to-day things I am doing, and while my goal for 2015 was to “engage” more in order to come up with a new big quest to go after (something like my original 50by25 goal), I’m thinking that this achievement-oriented girl is *for once* happy not going after something big… and just living my ordinary, suburban, non-jetsetter life.
Back in May, I auditioned for and was offered an amazing career opportunity: to serve in the high-profile orchestrator role for the “Discover program” that we offer as a reward to all of our newly-promoted senior associates. I went through the program myself a few years ago, and can honestly say it was life-changing – I wouldn’t be where I am today without the tools, coaching, and time for reflection that I received in my week at Discover. But now, as I work on my “Who Am I” story to introduce myself onstage to the new crop of seniors, I’m trying to figure out exactly how to put my happiness into words and describe what it is that I do outside of work.
After a lot of thought, I think the answer is that what I do doesn’t have to be all that unique, special, or impressive to anyone else. Who I am is a connector – I love to host gatherings and organize events that bring people together. I love to walk into a party where I don’t know anyone, and rather than relying on these funny ways to kill time when you’re at a party by yourself, I love going around the room and meeting everyone I can. Who I am is a runner and a dancer and a reader and a cook, even if I don’t get to do all of those things every day or even every week. And while they say that you shouldn’t talk about your job during introductions, a big part of who I am is that I’m currently loving my career and the awesome projects I get to work on. Who I am isn’t any one thing that I do that is particularly special; it’s the sum of all the things I do and how I’ve built my life.
They say that when meeting people for first time, you should talk about your passions. Lately, what I’m passionate about is trying to achieve happiness by living my perfect day more often – I’ve been thinking about that a lot! I’m incredibly proud of myself for moving across the country to live in the mountains that make me so happy, and I’m also proud of myself for having the discipline to save up enough over the years to be able to purchase my dream home, all by myself(!). The setting is in place for my perfect life; now, I just need to find the balance of taking care of the boring responsibilities I can’t avoid while maximizing my time for the activities I love. That’s a lot easier said than done, and I doubt I’ll ever actually live my perfect day every day, but as an end goal, it’s a pretty motivating one.
Striving to find daily happiness is something that I think a lot of people can relate to. However, I also don’t think it’s something many people consciously think about achieving. It’s a lot easier to just go with the flow and get through your day – as I frequently do myself! So maybe, what I should share at cocktail parties isn’t my “hobby” per se, but my passion for reading up on the “lifehacks” that give me more time and the social psychology for how to enjoy that extra time. I’m by no means successful at the implementation side of that all the time, but isn’t the definition of a hobby something you enjoy but aren’t a pro at? I’ll take it.