Diversifying Your Interests

October 15, 2014

By Website Programmer Ross Nelson

Work: it drives us, it provides for us and some of us thrive on it. In my personal experience, I moved from a job that simply payed the bills to a career that I love. As a programmer I can easily become engrossed in a problem or feature. I fully enjoy spending endless hours solving problems clients don’t know they have in a way most people would not understand. One may ask “What is wrong with that? It sounds like you have it great”. While that is true, with too much focus on one subject a person can lose their facets and become dull in both mind and body. Imagine attending a social function and having nothing to talk about but the new shipping calculator you just developed or animations you added to someones blog. It may be interesting to you, but completely out of everyone else’s wheel house. Being a one sided individual will alienate you from new social experiences and weaken your mental prowess.

The office environment can literally be a detriment to our health as well. How do you feel after 10 hours in an office chair? We would be hard pressed to find a single person who would answer, “great.“ Research by medicalbillingandcoding.org documents the effects of sitting. The study showed electrical activity in the leg muscles shuts down, calorie burning drops to 1 per minute, good cholesterol drops to 20%, and insulin effectiveness can drop to 24% after just a few hours of sitting.

So, what can help us in the search to become well rounded individuals? How about a hobby? Find something creative not associated with your job. Draw, paint, cook or learn an instrument. One study from the San Francisco State University proposed that a creative hobby could even help you to become more productive in your job. Subjects mentioned that their hobbies gave them the time needed to recover from the demands of their job. Some said they were allowed more self-expression and that it gave them an opportunity to discover more about themselves.

Many of us turn to different types of exercise to recover from our daily life. The results when working out can be similar to the reported benefits of practicing a hobby, if not more powerful. I recently found CrossFit and it has had a transformative effect within my own life. In 3 short months, I am running faster, lifting more and feeling like a kid again. The workouts are not just focused on getting fit. At its core, CrossFit trains your body and mind while providing a community full of encouragement and positive thinking. With this focus on progression, you begin to feel like anything is possible. You find yourself striving to develop mental attributes like patience, empathy and gratitude. This, all while facing your fears of what is possible and pushing your own limits. If you are looking for a restorative activity or personal growth, you can’t do much better than this.

Sometimes it may be required to "put in the hours” at the office. When the time is right, be sure to get out and clear your mind. It can be a relaxing day in the park or a grueling session of Tabata. Either way, the benefits are endless.

Sources: 1. http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/04/the-positive-effect-of-creative-hobbies-on-performance-at-work.php
2. http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/how-your-hobbies-effect-work-performance.html
3. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13558/why-crossfit-is-great-for-your-life-not-just-your-body.html
4. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/why-sitting-is-killing-you.html