Kevin J. Chase (thegreyeminence) wrote,
Kevin J. Chase

Hobbyist's Guilt

Found elsewhere:

There's too much hobby shit going on in my life, and it's stressing me out.

It's possible to have too many hobbies in your life, so that none of them are fun any more. A couple years ago, I realized that I had too many, so I dropped some. I should probably drop more.

My big discovery was that, while money and time both limit how many projects I can work on at once, the main fun-killer is the number of things to do, not how much they cost or how long they take.

Hobbies are only fun when you're doing them. (A hobby you never do is not a hobby; it's shopping.) Adding projects to my to-do list, or even just the “I wanna” list, means each one gets less attention, time, and money, until there's not enough left to make it worthwhile.

But it's worse than that. Some of that fun time gets wasted deciding what to do next, and then more on prep work before I can get started. With too many options, the time wasted on decision-making and context-switching can consume the time available for making progress. If you've ever been with a group in a video store that took two hours to decide what to spend two hours watching, you know exactly how this works.

At my worst, I ran into a form of decision paralysis that I think of as “hobbyist's guilt”. Every time I decided to get to work on something, I was necessarily deciding to not do any of the other things I “should be doing”. Those un-done things each made me feel a little guilty. What was the point of owning all those [books | RPGs | computer games | more books | PDFs | minis | DVDs] if I wasn't using them? It was all just stuff taking up space in my house and on my to-do list.

So even getting something underway wasn't really fun, because:

  1. The fun-stuff-done to time-wasted-doing-it ratio was so bad.

  2. I'd kinda resent one hobby for getting in the way of another.

  3. None of the stuff earned its keep by getting used enough.

So my realization was that there is such a thing as “too much fun”. When the relaxing goodness of time spent on Project n is always less than the wasteful badness of putting off Projects 1 through n − 1, you can't really enjoy any of them.

Consider the opposite extreme: a guy whose one and only hobby is making mail armor. This is a legendary time sink (“it's not a project — it's a lifestyle”), but it's the only thing he does. He never has to schedule it around his hang-gliding lessons or his World of Warcraft raids. He never has to pull all the tools out of the closet or remember what he was working on, because he never put them away. It's always ready to go, and he can literally spend all his free time on it. I guarantee he gets more done than… well, than I do. He's probably better at it and enjoys it more, too.

This is why, even if I had the time and money, I would not become a Revolutionary War re-enactor, a model builder, a 3-D game programmer, a scuba diver, or an astronaut. I'd love to, but I'm having too much “fun” already.

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