Author Topic: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies  (Read 2188 times)

vagavince

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Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« on: February 03, 2020, 02:55:36 AM »
I'm FI, not RE yet. Working on developing new hobbies before I pull the trigger.

I noticed that I don't really want to work on anything difficult. For example, I thought programming could be a good hobby (and some extra part time income). While I find some of it interesting, I usually just give up on the complex stuff instead of powering through it to figure it out. Same thing with other hobbies that I'm exploring, running, maker space, swimming, working out, skiing etc.
  • I can't keep it consistent. I can't get myself into a routine. Sometime I'm too lazy to do it, other time things come up.
  • I don't feel motivated to put in the effort to get better and often give up when its gets difficult.
Reflecting on my life. I feel I never power through a difficult situation. I usually avoid them. Once in a while I get excited about something and tinker around with it a bit. But it usually don't last long. I usually give up and switch to some new shiny things. This pattern seems to be repeating it self in my work, relationship and personal life. I would characterize it as a few weeks/months of obsession while I put in 100%. Then I lose interest.

Now that I'm FI, I feel even less motivated to do anything. I'm trying to be more accepting of myself, maybe I'm just a lazy person. At the same time, I will try to work on my ability to stick with people and things. I heard about "Deep Work," where you need to put in enough effort to get good at something to enjoy it. I never really enjoy anything for a long period of time. Maybe its because I don't put in enough effort. I hope I can get there one day. My goal for FIRE is to regain child like excitement about life. But I feel I'm far from it right now.

Comment welcome. What keep you motivated and what do you enjoy now that you are FI/RE? Did you always enjoy your hobbies from the beginning or did you have to power through the difficult learning curve before you can enjoy it?
« Last Edit: February 03, 2020, 03:19:01 AM by vagavince »

former player

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Re: Deep hobby
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2020, 03:25:55 AM »
I think you underestimate yourself: anyone who has reached FI through their own efforts does not lack motivation and is not lazy.

I think you also underestimate the demands that working involves.  There is a tendency to think that all it takes up is the time spent at work.  But it also uses up a lot of other resources: physical energy, mental effort and even emotional effort.  When so much personal effort goes into work it is hard to do something equally demanding outside of work.  Work also has a strong institutionalising tendency which is hard to see fully when you are still inside it and which affects the way we interact with the world.

All of which means that you will be something of a different person if you retire, and that you will also need a period of decompression to find out who that person is.  It might not be a person who goes in for the grand project but instead has lots of smaller projects that suit them better and in the end add up to much the same thing.  I suspect you will manage to figure out what works for you, although it may take some time.

I'm 9 years into RE now.  There has been no one big project, although I have one in mind if I ever feel the need.  But there are half a dozen smaller "projects" that connect me to my community, provide purpose and enjoyment and companionship and (I hope) improve my part of a world a little.  It's a good life.

FreshlyFIREd

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2020, 04:24:08 AM »
I usually just give up on the complex stuff instead of powering through it to figure it out. Same thing with other hobbies that I'm exploring, running, maker space, swimming, working out, skiing etc.
  • I can't keep it consistent. I can't get myself into a routine. Sometime I'm too lazy to do it, other time things come up.
  • I don't feel motivated to put in the effort to get better and often give up when its gets difficult.

Comment welcome. What keep you motivated and what do you enjoy now that you are FI/RE? Did you always enjoy your hobbies from the beginning or did you have to power through the difficult learning curve before you can enjoy it?

I worked in both the software and the engineering field for 30+ years. Any complex task (problem) can be broken down to a smaller problem. Large complex problems are just a bunch of small problems (i.e. I cannot see the trees because of the forest - or - how do you eat an elephant? - you eat the elephant one bite at a time).

The only problem I see here is giving up, motivation, or the hobbies you listed aren't for you. The following activities are relative :running, maker space, swimming, working out, skiing etc. They are easy if you do not have high standards. If you expect to be a world class runner, well that's a lot harder than winning a local 5k race. And winning a local 5k race is a lot harder than just jogging a 5k.

Anyway, if you get bored - or you can't power through them, maybe that hobby isn't for you. On the other hand, if you seem to be bored with every hobby, then maybe it is time to force yourself to power through one of those hobbies. Pick a hobby, a time limit, and a reasonable goal that can be met. Do it!

My hobbies that are very fulfilling? running, swimming, working out, maker space, software development. Why are they fulfilling? Because you can never master them. There is always something to learn or master.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2020, 04:37:37 AM »
My hobbies sucked me in.  No need to expend effort trying to develop them.  The effort is spent trying to avoid falling deeper into the rabbit hole!

If you are having to consciously attempt to develop hobbies, I'd recommend dropping back to part time before ER and just see if something takes.  Sometimes the fatigue of full time work uses up your desire to attempt something more difficult.

DragonSlayer

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2020, 07:01:13 AM »
Read some of the work by Barbara Sher, especially Refuse to Choose. She coined a personality type called "Scanner" -- a person who goes shallow on a lot of things, rather than deep on one or two things. She talks about how to leverage that personality type for success and happiness. That book totally changed my outlook on life because I am scanner, too. Up to that point, I thought there was something wrong with me, but now I see my "scanning" as an asset, not a liability.

DaMa

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2020, 07:56:40 AM »
In the last years of working FT, I had very little energy for hobbies, even ones I had enjoyed for many years.  I had no energy after work for anything that required more than minimal mental or physical effort.  I used the weekends to do chores and family stuff and had little time for my hobbies.  I went to part-time and very quickly picked up things I had enjoyed before and started a couple of new hobbies.  I also engaged in group activities with friends that I had mostly avoided for several years. 

Since FIRE-ing, hobby activity goes in waves.  I'll be very engaged in one activity for a while, then shift to another.  But it's not like giving up, it's just setting it aside.  I'll come back to it eventually. 

My point is that, like others have said, your experience will change when you RE. 

asauer

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2020, 08:12:31 AM »
Read some of the work by Barbara Sher, especially Refuse to Choose. She coined a personality type called "Scanner" -- a person who goes shallow on a lot of things, rather than deep on one or two things. She talks about how to leverage that personality type for success and happiness. That book totally changed my outlook on life because I am scanner, too. Up to that point, I thought there was something wrong with me, but now I see my "scanning" as an asset, not a liability.

This book was huge for me.  I'm very much a scanner and her book gave me my permission slip to just dabble in things.  I love it.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2020, 12:38:40 PM »
Read some of the work by Barbara Sher, especially Refuse to Choose. She coined a personality type called "Scanner" -- a person who goes shallow on a lot of things, rather than deep on one or two things. She talks about how to leverage that personality type for success and happiness. That book totally changed my outlook on life because I am scanner, too. Up to that point, I thought there was something wrong with me, but now I see my "scanning" as an asset, not a liability.

Thanks!  This sounds a lot like me, so I reserved a copy at the library.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Deep hobby
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2020, 12:56:05 PM »
I think you underestimate yourself: anyone who has reached FI through their own efforts does not lack motivation and is not lazy.

I think you also underestimate the demands that working involves.  There is a tendency to think that all it takes up is the time spent at work.  But it also uses up a lot of other resources: physical energy, mental effort and even emotional effort.  When so much personal effort goes into work it is hard to do something equally demanding outside of work.  Work also has a strong institutionalising tendency which is hard to see fully when you are still inside it and which affects the way we interact with the world.

All of which means that you will be something of a different person if you retire, and that you will also need a period of decompression to find out who that person is.  It might not be a person who goes in for the grand project but instead has lots of smaller projects that suit them better and in the end add up to much the same thing.  I suspect you will manage to figure out what works for you, although it may take some time.

I'm 9 years into RE now.  There has been no one big project, although I have one in mind if I ever feel the need.  But there are half a dozen smaller "projects" that connect me to my community, provide purpose and enjoyment and companionship and (I hope) improve my part of a world a little.  It's a good life.

I hope you're right, but that isn't what I've found so far - although I'm only 9 months post-FIRE.  One of the big things I've noticed is that FIRE didn't change who I am at all.  I was lazy through school, then lazy at work, and I'm still basically lazy after FIRE.  Fortunately I was great at taking tests which got me through school and my skills were highly valued in our current economy so I was paid well.  I didn't spend much money so I pretty much coasted to FIRE. 

That's not too say I sit on the couch all the time, but it takes a lot of effort to get anything done.  I had hoped to learn a language, learn to play a musical instrument, hike, and do a lot of other things after FIRE, but most days I don't work on them at all. 

OP - I really hear a lot of myself in your post.  The hobbies that have stuck for me are ones that have a fixed schedule and that involve a commitment to other people I want to spend time with.  I'm on a sports team that plays every Monday and Thursday, and if I don't show up the team will be short one player.  That helps me stick with the commitment. I also tutor math once a week, and knowing that if I skip the kids won't have enough tutors that session gets me to go.  Each time I'm happy I went, but beforehand I generally don't want to go so the feeling of obligation really helps.  Can you join a running or skiing club?  Could you volunteer at the maker space?  Those approaches help me stick with things I want to do but lack the motivation for.

vagavince

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2020, 02:16:05 AM »
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. This is a really helpful community.

former player and FIRE 20/20. I think you guys are both right. The answer is probably some where in between. I did take the small steps to open an investment account, transfer the money, showed up for work for 10 years etc. All these little things I may have taken for granted, so I need to acknowledge that I did put in some effort.  At the same time, I also have been coasting on smart and luck and could have put in more effort in work and life. I should have a more realistic assessment and expectation of myself. Maybe I'm just average, not super lazy but not super hardworking either.

FIRE 20/20 I can relate to what you are saying. I haven't hard to work hard to get by. I have high aspiration and want to do so many things, but I don't get to most of them. Then I feel bad about not realizing my potential. Right now my thinking is to be more grateful that things work out well even though I had no plan. Also to be more accepting of myself and my flaws. I will try sign up for some group obligations to see if that help.

FreshlyFIREd You are right about expectation management. I feel I have high expectation of myself but at same time I'm not willing to put in the effort. Maybe that is one of the reason I give up on hobby. I should try to have more realistic expectation about progression and have a growth mindset.

dragonslayer thanks for the book recommendation. I thought I would need to build more depth in a subject to enjoy it more. But sounds like there is another approach. I will definitely take a look. If you can share some of your take away that will be great as well.

Also, quite a few mentioned experience may evolve after RE. I hope so too. I was kind of hoping to have some hobby to retire to before taking the leap to ease my anxiousness that I won't like retirement. But perhaps I just have to try it and see. I have been discussing part-time or taking 6 months off at work. They are not too excited about the ideas. So I may have to just do it the sink-swim way at some point.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2020, 05:15:55 AM by vagavince »

bobble

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2020, 06:08:20 AM »
These new hobbies sound pretty heavy. Like New Year resolutions. Stuff that takes discipline and lots of people fail at.

Is there anything that feels effortless? More like a guilty pleasure?

Feeding ducks and learning their breeds, making chocolate, ranking Hitchcock films from best to worst, fight club in a local parking lot?

Just to break the funk and get your mojo.

sui generis

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Re: Deep hobby / how do you develop new hobbies
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2020, 08:47:48 AM »
It sounds safe and smart to develop a hobby (or 5) to have to transition to right when you retire, but it's just not realistic sometimes, as referenced in this thread by several.  I definitely needed the time and space I didn't have while working to be able to even think about a new project like a significant hobby.  It's like I need about 3-4x the amount of free time I need for a hobby to actually implement it.  It's something about the mental space freed up that allows me to contemplate the hobby/project itself. 

Part of this is, I think, because I'm a lot like you and FIRE 20/20 described.  I have always only done things that I've been naturally good at and I get bored of things easily.  So I'm definitely not starting several hobbies at once just in an effort to fill up time.  It's not about filling up time.  Now that I'm RE I can give a potential hobby true attention and the space to persevere to see if it's something I can fall in love (or like) with slowly.  And I have time to do it for only a handful of hours per week, instead of a hundred per week for two weeks, then drop it like a hot potato.  What I love about early retirement is that I have decades (hopefully) to contemplate working on something and no rush or obligation to do it.  So I'm taking one or two things at a time to try to grow and do beyond my comfort levels and give a real chance to.

Oh and otherwise?  To fill up the rest of my time and mental energy?  I definitely use the strategy of external commitment devices.  My volunteer roles require my participation not to let others down.  Even a new Spanish class I'm working on setting up would be letting down a friend if I didn't execute.  It's an easy strategy to keep me on track with a few things that do give me pleasure overall but that I would risk quitting if I had to choose every time, 10 minutes before, whether I wanted to do it at that moment or not.  I have just enough of those to sort of keep me on track and meet some minimum socializing requirements for me, but not so much that I still don't have plenty of free time (ideally....still working on the balance for this).