Most of us are not lucky enough to have jobs that fulfill us creatively. Even those of us who work in creative fields often feel the urge to do something artistic in our downtime – but the time, money, and effort that go into these hobbies can be hard to justify. What if I told you, however, that your penchant for painting landscapes could actually make you a better accountant? Strumming a guitar after grading papers is not just a stellar way to unwind – it can also be a clever career development technique.
Here are nine ways that investing your energy in a creative hobby can benefit your regular job performance:
You Will Access Your Intuition
Most creative pursuits, by their very nature, put us in touch with our instincts. In business, it can be very advantageous to trust your gut – but we are often too scared to do so. Even if we do want to follow our intuition, we can become too far removed from it due to our heavy reliance on statistics, common practices, and advice from others. However, your gut instincts are usually correct. Learning to tap into your intuition when making a business decision, and developing the confidence to trust in its innate wisdom, can have a huge impact on your career.
You Will Become More Resilient
The struggles that come with creativity are known to build resilience, which is one of the most sought-after qualities in today’s tumultuous workplace. This is especially true in fields that are notoriously competitive and hard to succeed in, such as finance and marketing. As Dean Becker, the president and CEO of Adaptiv Learning Systems, said “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.” The perseverance and toughness you develop through your creative outlet can make you not only stronger, but happier and healthier, as well.
You Will Give Your Brain Room to Think
Will Ferrel used to run regularly when he worked on Saturday Night Live. “Whenever I’d run,” he said, “I’d get these great ideas. I love what running does for your mind.” Indeed, giving your brain a break from thinking about your work problems, or about anything at all really, can help to get you out of a mental rut. Creative hobbies in particular can give you a fresh perspective on events that are happening in your professional field.
You Can Continue to Be Productive on Your Off Time
Taking a break from work is not only necessary for your mental and emotional health, but has also been shown to improve work performance. Many high achievers, however, struggle with this because of their internal drive to be productive. Sitting in front of the TV for a break does not feel right because it doesn’t accomplish anything. Taking a break to draw a picture, however, or to write a song, can be less guilt-inducing. While a creative outlet gives you a mental break in the sense that it shifts your focus from work to something more enjoyable, it also gives you something to show for your time.
Your Confidence will Follow You to Work
Why do so many of us put our children’s artwork on our refrigerators? Because it makes them feel good about themselves. The feeling of satisfaction that comes from creating something out of nothing is hard to beat. It gives a boost to our self-esteem and self-image that makes us less likely to underestimate ourselves and more likely to take on new challenges. As an adult, having this mindset at work can make you more confident, capable, and assertive.
You Will Keep Your Brain Healthy
Just like healthy people need to exercise to stay in shape, mentally sharp people must work out their minds in order to keep them fresh and ready for action. Even if you have a job that engages you mentally, a creative pursuit is still beneficial because it challenges your mind in an entirely different way. You wouldn’t stay healthy from working out just one part of your body – so why do we think this strategy will work for our brains? Art can help to stimulate your brain in a way that your job just doesn’t. Flexing your mental muscles will keep them in good working condition and, by extension, fight premature aging of the brain.
You Will Become Engaged in Life
Each of us dreams of growing up to do what we love. Sadly, though, only 13% of employees worldwide feel happy and engaged at work. Without a mental challenge to stimulate us, we can very easily become robotic drones, mindlessly floating from one day to the next. A creative hobby brings your mind back to life in the most colorful, beautiful way. This is thought to be one of the most important reasons that people who have creative outlets outside of the workplace are shown to perform better at their jobs. The engagement and creativity happening outside of work hours energizes you and reinforces these same habits when you return to the office. “You almost kind of spiral in a positive direction,”says Kevin Eschleman, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State who studied this phenomenon.
You Will Strengthen Your Creative Problem Solving Skills
How many times has your boss urged you to “think outside the box”? Engaging in a creative hobby can help you to do this more easily. Studies have shown that practicing music, in particular, can help your brain to work in new ways and give you a different viewpoint. Once your mind starts regularly changing up the beat that it marches to, new ideas and perspectives will flow more naturally in all areas of your life.
You Will Discover a Passion
Most people don’t want to spend their entire lives working for another person’s dream. Pursuing a creative interest could help you develop a passion that might one day even turn into your own business. Businesses based on a personal hobby are shown to have staying power, and to ultimately turn a better profit than those that are not. If you put your time and energy into your creative passion during your off-hours, you may someday find yourself able to quit your nine-to-five and pursue your dream full time. Open a dance school, start a catering business, become a travel writer, or capture the important moments in peoples’ lives on film. The opportunities are endless!
Finding a creative outlet is simple if you follow your natural inclinations. Do you doodle in the margins of your notes? Buy a sketchbook and some high-quality pencils. Find yourself tapping your foot and bopping along to the elevator music? Take a dance class, or start a band! As Howard Thurman famously said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”