When I was growing up, I had tons of hobbies.
I loved to draw, paint, and make things out of clay. I never played sports, but I was involved in gymnastics, ballet, and community theater. I was constantly finding joy in doing, creating, and learning something new.
As I grew older, most of those hobbies fell by the wayside. Recently, I find myself wondering—what changed?
I’m sure you can identify with this; while we may have a few hobbies we try to keep up on, spending time on hobbies is usually seen as a “luxury.” We think of them as something we’ll get back to once our schedules are a little more open, and our lives a little less crazy.
Realistically, it can be hard to rationalize taking time for hobbies. If you are starting a business, the idea of finding time to do something fun and creative can seem like quite a task—not to mention a huge waste of time.
Shouldn’t you be devoting every waking hour to thinking about, planning, and starting a new business?
While putting your nose to the proverbial grindstone is necessary, I’d argue that we should still make time for our hobbies. Not only is “all work and no play” incredibly draining, but it’s unlikely to foster much creativity, which is essential when it comes to successful entrepreneurship.
To get a sense of the hobbies of successful business leaders, I looked to the entrepreneurs of the Young Entrepreneur Council. They’ve offered up a list of 10 unique hobbies that inspire, challenge, and excite them. Not only that, but these hobbies are ones that have helped them run their businesses better and become more successful entrepreneurs.
10 hobbies of successful entrepreneurs
1. Competing in endurance events
Being an entrepreneur means you need to set goals and stick with them.
So, it’s a good idea to cultivate a habit of goal setting and self-improvement in other aspects of your life. “I set a goal and offset the hours I sit at the desk during the day,” says Peter Boyd of PaperStreet Web Design, who loves competing in endurance events. “Cycling, jogging, swimming, mud running, you name it. My favorite events have been BattleFrog and the Spartan Run, but I also enjoy just cycling in the morning, too.”
In addition to honing your athletic ability and encouraging you to meet and achieve your goals, you may find your new favorite way to blow off some steam. “Is exercising fun? You bet,” says Peter.
2. Playing video games
It’s important to have hobbies that you find relaxing, and that make your downtime entertaining. “I like to think that in addition to the downtime, there are many life lessons you can learn from video games,” says Douglas Hutchings of Picasolar.
“For example, if you’re encountering enemies, then you’re going the right direction.”
3. Scuba diving
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve already proven that you’re not adventure-adverse. After all, blazing your own trail and starting a business is one of the most adventurous leaps of faith you can take.
So, it makes sense that entrepreneurs gravitate toward exciting hobbies, like scuba diving. “I am an adventure scuba diver, having dived in every continent including Antarctica,” says Trevor Sumner of LocalVox. “I scuba-dived in the most shark-infested waters in the world (Cocos Island) and found peace and beauty in the most turbulent and dangerous underwater ecosystems.”
Trevor doesn’t just do it for the thrill of adventure, however. “It’s a startup metaphor,” he says. “If you can find perfect calmness face-to-face with a 12-foot hammerhead or 1,000-pound leopard seal, you’ve got startup-level grit.”
There is something deeply therapeutic about running; it’s a way to mentally check out, and unwind after even the craziest days. “I think all of our brains work a million miles a minute all day long, and there is something very stress-relieving about letting your body also move quickly,” says Laura Land of EMPIRE Cell Phone Accessories.
Laura uses running as a way to de-stress and problem solve, making it a great choice for any entrepreneur. “Running provides such a great outlet to let your mind wonder,” she explains. “Some of my biggest business problems have been solved while running.”
5. Practicing acro yoga
It might seem counterintuitive to pick a hobby that requires a lot of focus.
After all, since being an entrepreneur requires so much focused thought, wouldn’t it be a good idea to pick a hobby that doesn’t?
Entrepreneur Darrah Brustein doesn’t think so. “I recently got into AcroYoga, since it’s a great workout and requires so much focus that keeps me from stressing over my business,” she says.
Not only does it force Darrah to focus on something besides the stress of running a business, she says it’s just plain enjoyable. “It’s fun and teaches you a lot about communication and trust. I definitely recommend it!”
“While I can’t do it as much as I’d like, I love to travel and see new things,” says Jonathan Long of Market Domination Media. “Every year I try to cross at least one epic site off the list.”
There doesn’t have to be a business lesson here; for Jonathan, traveling is a time to explore and experience—no major business takeaways required. Sometimes, as an entrepreneur, it’s good to have a hobby where you can unplug completely.
“This year, I really want to get away to Hawaii and explore all of the amazing waterfalls,” he says. “It won’t be a successful year unless I have GoPro footage of me triple backflipping off Hawaiian waterfalls.”
7. Doing creative home projects
If you’re anything like me, you might have abandoned your more creative hobbies as you’ve gotten older. However, the next few entrepreneurs make a case for finding a creative outlet.
Nathalie Lussier of AmbitionAlly has been on what she termed a “home-decorating kick,” which has become her hobby of choice.
“It’s an amazing creative outlet that lets me explore art in different mediums (and colors!) and it helps me come back to my work feeling refreshed,” she says. “I never thought I’d be a DIYer, but it’s fun to try my hand at different crafty projects!”
8. Playing guitar and songwriting
In the same vein, Brittany Hodak of ZinePak focuses on her creative side, by taking weekly music lessons.
“I took guitar and songwriting lessons every week in 2015,” she says. “In addition to it being an awesome creative outlet (and giving me an excuse to leave the office at twice a week!), it helped expand my network with lots of amazing non-entrepreneurs whom I may never have crossed paths with otherwise.”
Her point is a good one; while it may be tempting to take on a hobby that will directly translate into your business life, it might be a good idea to branch out, and think outside the box. “I think every entrepreneur should take up a hobby that inspires him or her to be more creative and social,” says Brittany.
“I make it a habit of going go-karting weekly to burn some steam after a stressful day,” says Billy Ono of Kami Speed. “Sitting behind the wheel of an open kart racing 60mph, inches away from the ground, can be both exhilarating and calming.”
Billy believes that go-karting sets him up well to be successful as an entrepreneur. “The unexpected race to the finish with total strangers and familiar faces is something that I’m sure we all as entrepreneurs face daily,” he says. “It keeps me competitive and on my toes.”
When it comes to starting a business, it’s all about planting seeds and watching things grow. So, it’s no surprise that successful entrepreneurs turn to gardening as a hobby.
“Gardening is one fun activity that runs parallel to owning a business,” says Brett Farmiloe of Markitors. “You plant seeds and cultivate growth until your crop bears food. You tend the garden of weeds to clear it from distractions.”
And, as with running a business, sometimes you have to make tough choices and think about the big picture.
“Sometimes you have to grab a pair of shears and make the tough decision of cutting a branch off for the greater good of the tree,” says Brett. “It’s a great, inspiring outlet.”
What is your favorite hobby? Do you feel that it helps make you a better entrepreneur? Let me know in the comments, or @Bplans!