This Is Why You Need To Be Great At Your Hobbies

Be The Best Go Kart - Alexander Andrews

Photo: Alexander Andrews

There are so many hobbies you can get good at in this world, with some of these things being outright outlandish.

Like, who even sets out to become the best ventriloquist in the world? How about dedicating your life to rock climbing? Even becoming a gaming superstar is a thing now.

No matter what niche you look at, there’ll be people who’ve already reached the pinnacle of their craft. People like Jeff Dunham, Alex Honnold, and Lee Sang-hyeok, to name a few.

The thing is though, is that before you become a Jane Austen, or a Tony Hawk, you’ll inevitably face resistance from the people around you. People who cannot comprehend your goals as well as you do.

Yes, writing might just be a hobby to you, or you might only go out for a run on the weekends, but even then, it’ll serve you well to do the best you can in these pursuits.

Why? Because it’s important for our growth (we’ll talk about this later, I promise). The thing is though, is that we tend to listen to others more than is good for us, and if you have a hobby you want to be good in but you’re self-conscious about pursuing it, then this article is for you.

The wrong audience

Let’s face it. Your life goals probably aren’t the easiest things in the world to achieve. And that’s good, because you won’t gain any sense of achievement by doing the easy things, will you?

But here’s the thing. What’s acceptably tough for you might not be the same for others. You might be able to tolerate long runs in the sweltering heat, but someone else might scoff at that thought. And maybe, for that person, a reasonable challenge might mean learning seven new languages at one go.

They’re not wrong to think that it’s silly to run when you can just relax at home, and neither are you for finding flash cards and grammar in a foreign language terribly mundane. It’s okay, because we’re all different.

“People say that you’re going the wrong way when it’s simply a way of your own.”

—Angelina Jolie

This is an important thing to remember, because when someone comes to you with an unconventional goal, it’d do you good to check yourself before you even think of dismissing their dreams.

Doing this will also give you the perspective of not listening to what other people say, because they don’t really know what they’re talking about when they try to discourage you from reaching that next level in your craft.

After all, many of humankind’s greatest achievements were built on the basis of doing the impossible—think the first four-minute mile, the first flight, the first climb on the Dawn Wall.

And ultimately, your goal should always be to do what you once thought was unachievable.

There’s a caveat to all this though. You can’t simply ‘just become’ great at anything. You have to love the thing enough to push you through the tough parts.

When you truly love something…

I bet you’re expecting a trite saying like ‘…you’ll never work a day in your life’, but no. Hard work is still hard work, and you have to put in the work to be good at anything.

Instead, what I was getting at was that if you truly love something, you’ll never want to take the easy way out.

Of course, we’re all seduced by the allure of tangible results from time to time. Who doesn’t want that brand new promotion? That shiny sports car? Those swole biceps?

Yet, we all have our thing that we love and care about. Our thing that gives us joy and purpose. And you’ll know that you’ve found your thing when the results don’t matter as much to you as mastering it does.

Maybe you’d love to have a Grandmaster ranking in chess, but if that involves having a computer play the games for you, then I’ll bet that that pursuit would leave you feeling nothing but a hollow thrill.

The real Grandmasters would instead study the ins and outs of every phase in the game. They’d cut their teeth in hundreds of tournaments, and they’d actually work on it for at least eight hours a day.

Doesn’t sound easy though, does it? And the only way you’re going to get through all that is by loving what you do. But passion doesn’t equate an easy journey.

So if you think that half-assed attempt at writing that novel marks you as a lazy person, then think again, because it’s not you that’s the problem. Maybe you just haven’t found your thing.

Smiling man climbing icy mountain.

You don’t need to smile through every obstacle, but you should be willing to go through them at the very least. Photo: Sheshan R

There are no shortcuts in life

We all know this, yet we’re always looking for that next hack to get what we want.

Take diets for example. Maintaining a healthy weight is all about making the right food choices, but we still tend to follow fads and miracle meals.

You want to know why? Because we want fast results. Ironically, we all know what it takes to look and feel good, and it’s as straightforward as eating less and moving more.

But judging from my Facebook feed, most people are more willing to drink nothing but juice for a week—with nothing to show for it—than to pick something like grilled chicken over their plates of nasi lemak and char kuey teow.

We put off good decisions one meal at a time before we realise we’re ten kilos overweight and that’s when we turn to shortcuts to undo our years of neglect.

And the shortcuts never work.

Get good at something

So what does all this have to do with the subject of mastering your passion?

Everything.

If you look at life from a bird’s-eye view, you’ll realise that there are more things in common than you think.

That choice you made to study another chess opening instead of watching Netflix? That’s exercising your self-discipline.

Waking up early to work on your novel? Going out for a run when you’re feeling lazy? Breaking out that canvas and painting instead of scrolling through Instagram? They all require you to work on something that’s hard.

And for that to happen, you’ll need to listen to no one but ourself, know what your thing is, and truly put in the effort it deserves.

“Strive to become, not attain.”

—Wes Watson

Never mind that your hobby could be seen as boring (sorry, my philately people), or that it’s stupidly dangerous (you do you, base jumping people).

The act of improving is what’s going to turn you into a better human being, and everybody should be allowed to pursue that in whatever way they choose.

Because in the end, it’s really not about collecting medals and winning the bragging rights, but about finding your best self by constantly pushing yourself to be the best you can ever be.


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42 thoughts on “This Is Why You Need To Be Great At Your Hobbies

  1. I wonder why we sometimes have resistance to putting the effort into doing the things we (think?) we want. For example, we’ll want to write a novel but don’t feel like putting in the time. Why do you think this is?

    • I’m pulling this out of my ass right now, but I feel it’s because we as humans love to conserve energy, from the days when food was scarce.

      And seeing how all good things require work, we’re averse to anything that’ll take a significant amount of effort to achieve. That includes mental energy (which I feel is more tiring than physical exertion).

      Maybe that’s why. Don’t quote me though, lol.

  2. This is so so good. In the end it’s “about finding your best self by constantly pushing yourself to be the best you can ever be.” I love that so much.
    Thanks for the awesome and motivating post.

    Also, I have come to learn that people can’t be separated from their Nasi Lemak! Lol

  3. It’s always about discovering the promising self. I strongly believe, Learning life by understanding not instructing. It doesn’t matter how long you take to bloom. Your post is much appreciated! Enjoyed reading it.

    • I agree. And ironically enough, if you only seek to understand, you’ll naturally be the one who’s asked for guidance anyway. The ones who try to ‘teach’ too early are easily seen through. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Great post! I love the ideas you bring up. The best way to happiness in work and hobbies and when you can enjoy the process and not worry over the result. And sometimes if it feels hard to do and you want to give up then it means you’re doing the right thing. This is an honest perspective you brought. Enjoyed the quotes, also. The first one is really good.

    • Yes! If things feel like they’re doable and they don’t challenge you, then perhaps you’re not pushing yourself enough. Beyond that wall of not wanting to do something lies the next level for you to climb and enjoy. Thanks for stopping by, Benjamin!

  5. This is on point! I relate so hard with what you said about doing what you love is still hard work. I used to think that I should find work that is like “play” to me simply because “I love it” but the reality is, if you really love something you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it. I had to learn that the hard way too. Anyway, well done! This was a great read! :)

    • I love it that you caught the exact point I wanted to put across. It’s not about finding something you enjoy, it’s being able to go through the less-enjoyable parts of whatever you’re doing. Thanks for stopping by, Fen! I appreciate it.

  6. Another great post Stuart. It can be really tough when something you love becomes work. Knowing this going in is such an important point–and pushing yourself to be the best –even through those not so fun times–is so worth it.

    • Yeah, even the thing that I enjoy the most (which seemingly doesn’t have any sucky parts, like gaming) also has its downsides, one that I have to power through if I want to get better. Thanks for dropping this lovely observation!

      • Thanks Stuart. I always enjoy “chatting” with you. You’re always so positive and optimistic–we need more of that in the world. Talk soon.

    • Controversial indeed, because I think certain people do have their gifts right from the womb, but I also think that the ratio of hard work to talent when it comes to predicting success is 90/10. Great discussion point!

  7. This post really makes you think! It’s a lot easier to start a new project when I find myself getting bored or intrigued by something new, but if I want to become great at anything I’ve got to use discipline.

    • The new thing will get old after a while, and that’s what’s been keeping me from collecting new hobbies, as much as I’m tempted to. I’ve dabbled in too many things to know that I’ll never feel as enthusiastic about something further down the line. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. In India, there is an olden saying, ” If you get something easily, trust me that something is problematic for you”. Nothing can compare hardwork, as it nourishes you, and brings out the best of you.

    • That’s so true. What we’re looking for is the work itself, and a lot of people tend to miss that because all they have their eyes on is the prize. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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