Most people have two categories of activities: things that help with your personal growth but take energy, and things that don’t help with personal growth but are relaxing. Most people often search for a way to balance the two out. “I will spend 10 hours working, doing school work, and/or doing chores around the house. THEN I will spend 3-4 hours relaxing and watching TV.”
Not everything you do has to be a choice between the two, though. There are plenty of activities that are great for your personal growth and can be enjoyable and help with relaxation. In this post, I’ll go over my top picks for hobbies that serve to help with both aspects of life.
#1: Martial Arts Training
Let’s get the super-obvious, heavy-bias choice out of the way first…
I’ve been doing martial arts since I was in grade school. Did I always enjoy it? Absolutely not. As an adult, however, I can see the incredible benefits that come from making it a part of my daily routine (enough so that I dedicate a good majority of my time to teaching other people).
Of all the different activities I’ve tried, I just can’t find one that checks as many boxes as martial arts does. Exercise? Check. Meditation and stress management? Check. Keeping myself and my family safe? Check. Focusing on personal growth and gaining more knowledge about the world? Check.
If not for martial arts training, I would have to find all of these things in other places. I could definitely make it work if I had to, but it seems silly. Why spread my time and energy amongst 3-4 different activities when I can funnel that energy and focus into becoming the best I can be at one thing?
If you’ve ever thought about giving martial arts a try, I definitely recommend it (and can easily help you get started, too!)
A choice that I suspect will surprise no one, but that’s okay.
Reading is another activity that has many benefits to it. Not only does it tend to be calming, but there are many books out there that have terrific knowledge on personal growth (you can see some of our top picks here). Even if you’re more of a fiction person, it still helps expand your vocabulary and keep your mind sharp.
If I could force one habit on all of my students that would better their mind, it would be reading. Even if it was just for twenty minutes when they wake up or before bed. There’s a reason that books have managed to stick around this long when so many other things have come and gone.
#3: Video Games
This might shock some people (maybe not to those who know me), but I think video games are an amazing outlet for personal growth.
The caveat to this is its all about what you play. There are some games that are overly violent and made purely for entertainment purposes. Others, however, can teach a person a lot of skills that transfer into the real world:
- Resource management (not spending more than you make and saving for emergencies) is a staple in almost every strategy-based video game.
- Many historical video games are made to be accurate (I always tell my students how I aced my middle-school history class by playing video games).
- Many story-driven games are written in a way to help impart a certain lesson or concept on the player (being good vs. evil, persevering through tough times, learning to trust others, etc.)
I could sit here and ramble all day, but I think the point is clear. If the right game is chosen with the right intention in mind, I think there’s a ton to be gained from playing video games for an hour or two at a time.
#4: Skill-Based Hobbies
This is gonna be a catch-all for many different hobbies since I couldn’t pick just one.
Any hobby that requires you to learn and master a skill is great for personal growth. Extra benefit, most of the hobbies that fall into this category also allow us to create or share something with the world to better it:
- Musicians sharing their music with others
- Craftsmen creating something from wood, metal or other resources
- Artists painting, drawing or designing something on a computer.
All of these types of hobbies build fine-motor control, decision-making, creativity and time management. When done well enough, they can also be a reasonable source of extra income for those who may need it.
Socializing is a necessary part of life to staying sane and healthy, both emotionally and physically. Much like video games, however, this one can be a double-edged sword (which is why we didn’t include it in our health post last week).
There are two aspects to socializing that determine whether it is productive and good for growth, or just a time-killer.
The first factor is WHO I am spending my time with. There is a common saying along the lines of “you are the combination of the 5 people you spend the most time with” for a reason. If you spend your time with 5 millionaires, you will be the 6th. If you spend your time with 5 drug addicts, you will be the 6th. The habits of those you spend time with will eventually become your habits (despite how much you may attempt to fight it).
The second factor is WHAT that social time is spent on. Even a group of successful people aren’t going to achieve much if their night is spent bar-hopping and getting intoxicated. I’ve always been a fan of group activities that don’t involve a lot of extra noise, as well as activities that allow for the sharing of productive ideas. Board game nights? Great. A dinner at a quiet place or someone’s home? Awesome.
This is generally what I limit my “social” time to (it helps that I’m an introvert). I’m not suggesting that every social outing needs to be quiet and productive, but think about those types of options when you’re planning those things out. If everybody is on board, why not give it a go?
One of the first things I said in my post about productivity (link here) is that we only have 24 hours in a day to make life happen. While there’s no way to experience everything this world has to offer, we can make sure to get the most out of it by making sure our time is spent on multiple things at once. If you’re going to dedicate 20-25 hours a week to hobbies and relaxation time, why not choose something that will help your growth as a person?
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