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Define Hobby – What it Means to Me

define hobby

How do you define hobby? Interestingly, the concept of a hobby is very loosely defined. So I will take a crack at it. 

Most people and dictionaries define hobby as a regular activity done for enjoyment during leisure time. And while this is mostly true, it seems insufficient. Your hobby helps you define and explain yourself in a way that is quite different from your career or work. In many ways, what you do in your spare time may be much more interesting than your job. And while hobbies are supposed to be the opposite of work, they can be quite laborious.

A hobby is more than just your interests, because it results in regular actions rather than simply a passive curiosity. And many hobbies have aspects of professional behavior, even though practitioners are unpaid and not necessarily experts. Hobbies embrace all levels of skill and commitment.

So, how would I define hobby? Like this.

A hobby is comprised of:

  • A body of knowledge. Almost all hobbies have built up coherent knowledge of one or more subject areas, sometimes with a formal structure and grades of detail. Practitioners of a hobby acquire and often enhance this body of knowledge.
  • A community of interest. In most cases, hobbies are practiced in social groups that form around the hobby at local, national and global scope. Community members help you learn and grow within the hobby. Social interaction can reduce stress.
  • Acquisition and practice of skills. Almost all hobbies involve activities whose successful completion and enjoyment requires skill. These skills may be mental or physical and typically involve continuous improvement.
  • Individual commitment of time and effort. Most successful hobbyists get in their 10,000 hours. Typically, folks may dabble in a few hobbies, but only make a serious commitment to one.

Define Hobby – Amateur Radio as an Example

Whether you are into ham activities or shortwave listening, you should be able to see yourself clearly within this definition. You probably have several bookshelves with your body of knowledge. You belong to clubs and have friends who share the hobby. Your skills have improved over time and there are a few things you do really well – and mentor others. And, you probably spend 8-12 hours a week doing your hobby, depending on where you are in your life cycle. Finally, your job and your hobby probably have nothing to do with each other, although there may be some synergy once in a while.

There is a fifth criteria that applies to some hobbies: addition of institutional sanctions or recognition. For example, ham operators are licensed by the government. These licenses provide permission to use the radio spectrum. As another example, folks who teach swimming as a hobby can obtain accreditation.

Most hobbies have been around for a long time. But the maker and hacker movements demonstrate new hobbies that leverage new technologies or opportunities.

You might enjoy reading an essay on the future of hobby electronics recently published by Jameco, an industrial electronic supply company.

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