Self Improvement 26: Make a List of Interests You Have
What are your interests?
This seems like a simple question but as you try to list all things you are interested in you will see that there are many more items than you thought possible.
Your interests vary in intensity.
Some may be fresh, and you are actively engaged with them daily, others are a distant echo from the past.
Your interests fall into different categories ranging from family to career and from entertainment to fitness. Listing the things you are interested in will help you choose what to focus on when planning different parts of your life. When you create the list, you will also find the items that no longer interest you. Letting go of those will give you more time to for the rest. Every time you take up something new you will have to drop something else and making conscious choices in this area will free some of your mental resources.
How much time you have for your hobbies?
The reality is that if you follow the advice in this blog and other sites, then you try to get at least 8 hour of sleep every day. If you have a day job, another 8 hours go there.
You are left with 8 hours of “free” time. The numbers above should make it blindingly obvious why you would need to work a job that you are interested in and really love to do.
Making money is a hobby that will complement any other hobbies you have, beautifully. ~~Scott Alexander
This 16-hour block of waking time is your budget for having fun and interesting stuff to do.
So choose carefully.
How good do you want to be at it
Another aspect to consider is that to be any good at anything you need to spend several thousand hours at it. However, you can play poker with friends once a month for a few hours and have a great time and say that you are seriously interested in poker. You might not win any tournaments, but you would choose that activity over other options.
I spend 2 to 3 weeks every year snowboarding. My time on the board may be somewhere around 50 to 80 hours per year and snowboarding is my favorite winter activity. If I wanted to get really good at snowboarding, I would need to increase my time on the board tenfold (and accept broken bones now and then).
So, make a choice what do you want to do for fun every once in a while and if there’s something you would like to get pretty good at.
Make a list of interests and hobbies
Take some time, 40 minutes to an hour should be enough and create your list of interests. Decide what you want to spend more time on and what you should cross off and mark “someday.”
To give you something to start from here is an incomplete list of interest with some examples:
Health and fitness
Your health is the most important value you have to preserve. We can prepare for almost any problem we might encounter as long as we can work on it. When you lose your ability to work and burn through your cash reserves, then you are in trouble. There aren’t many people who can foot the bill for a major health problem without outside help.
To be healthy is pretty simple just walk 40 minutes every day and do some body-weight exercises. Moving around and not sitting the whole day are the key.
When you go more extreme, then you might have setbacks that create health problems. Running injuries, breaking bones while snowboarding, etc.
- Hiking and camping
If you can keep your body running smoothly then next, you need some food for thought. Read and learn about whatever makes you happy and engaged. But like exercise, it shouldn’t be easy. You have to exert yourself. Mental chewing gum like watching TV will not make you more resilient and resourceful.
- Modern art
Now it’s time for rest. What do you want to do with your free time? With your family, your friends, sometimes alone just to wind off. Of course, there may be entertainment value in your exercise and the topics you learn about, but find something that lets you relax completely.
- Metal music
Here I list some specific goals that I want to improve in myself. But these are not one time things that change every week. Here are some of the activities that I think I need to keep up for the rest of my life. The skills and attributes you list here should help you get better in many other areas of your life.
- Life hacks
- Building willpower
Business and career
What do you like in business or your work? Interesting work is one of the most important things in life you can achieve. If you work on something that you want to do and really excites you, then you are far ahead of most people. If your work or business is also your hobby, then you have a much happier life.
- Public speaking
Having a good relationship at home is one of the foundations of your success. Sometimes you may have problems at home. Relationships take work. Do that work. If you are not into relationship advice, then get into it. Find out how to better understand your spouse and kids. How to create peak moments that you can remember for decades to come. Even if it’s not something, you do now. Start doing it, and it’ll grow on you.
- Home improvement
Above is my hobbies list where I collected some of my most important interests and.
As you can see they are interconnected. Willpower is something that enables most other activities. Writing is the skill that helps me achieve the work goals that in turn let me focus on the other things I love to do.
But sometimes you may start something completely different that helps you break out from established roles. Take up knitting or yoga or something else that is far away from your current experience.
Add something that you have always wanted to do and take one month to learn the basics. It only takes 20 hours to get the feel for a new hobby.
The list should go on and on, but many items on it are just a fleeting interest that may be gone when you revise your interests in a year or so. When I was writing this post and going through my list from a year ago, I found many things that I need to cross off. Yes, these things are really interesting, but I just do not have the time to get anywhere with those. I would rather free the mental slot allocated to that activity and have less clutter in my mind.
Why are you interested in this?
After you have completed your list of interests, take some time to understand the reasons behind them.
You may be interested in chemistry because your father was a chemist. You have been so long in the environment where chemistry is an important topic that now you think it’s your choice.
Your family may run a business where all generations are expected to participate. But is it really something you want to do?
Do you like to travel? Your spouse likes beaches and sun. You love snow and sun. Is traveling to 95F (35C) heat your interest?
- How did I become interested in this?
- Is it something I do out of habit?
- How much time and money does it take?
- Would I miss it if I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life?
- Is there something I would like to do instead of this?
Cycle through all your interests and answer these questions. All interests take time and resources; when you want to do more of something, then you have to give up in other areas.
Always look for ways where you can turn your working time into hobby time. Working on the things that interest and excite you will improve your life tremendously.
Your goal in this exercise is to maximize the value you get from your time.
Now, sit down and write your list of interests.
Cover Image: Cortina d’Ampezzo, Rifugio Pomedes 2018 by Priit Kallas
Image: Money by Andrew Magill