If you’re passionate about excelling to the top of your field, you probably spend a disproportionate amount of your time being more productive and skilled at your job. Of course, there’s nothing remotely wrong about that; we should all be doing everything we can to perform at our best. But when it comes to success, it turns out that optimizing our work performance isn’t all that matters. Today, a growing body of research suggests that pursuing hobbies outside of work might be equally important to long-term health, wealth, and happiness.
How Can Having a Passion Improve Your Work Performance?
It’s somewhat counterintuitive, but it turns out that placing a greater focus on your life and passions outside of work can result in a net benefit for your career. Here’s how:
- It can benefit your relationships with work colleagues. Without an outlet of some kind, work-related stress can grow to the point that it causes you to become irritable and impatient around your coworkers. This isn’t particularly healthy for your career. By taking the time outside of work to blow off steam and reduce stress (a practice such as mindfulness meditation can be particularly useful here), it will be much easier to remain in a calm and collaborative frame of mind while working with others.
- It will improve your physical and mental health. 80-hour workweeks can benefit your career in the short-term, but they can also have devastating health consequences in the long-term. Rather than focusing exclusively on your output, try to increase the amount of exercise and creative activity that you engage in weekly. Adding greater variety can have major health benefits, which in turn can result in a boost in creativity while you’re at the office.
- You’ll expand your network. When you pursue passions outside of work that involve meeting and cooperating with other people, you’ll have a much higher chance of meeting new and interesting people in your field. This can lead to professional opportunities and partnerships down the road.
- You’ll boost your brainpower. All new hobbies – whether it’s learning a new language, teaching yourself how to draw, or mastering a martial art – require learning. As has now been demonstrated by countless studies (such as this one), learning facilitates the organization of new pathways in the brain. Learning a new skill outside of work, in other words, can make you smarter.
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