How Do Hobbies and Skills Contribute to Your Career and Transitions?

Meena Radhakrishnan, MD

Have you ever wondered how continuously updating your skillset will help with your personal and professional growth, in our fast-paced society? Personally, having an avocation has benefitted me a lot. Having a favorite pastime or learning new expertise has provided me and countless others and takes less effort and mental drive as we ease and train our brains to develop this mindset.

Among the numerous benefits of this new perspective, here are a few examples of why we should all try to continually participate in hobbies and develop new skills:

  1. Help us de-stress.
  2. Promote meeting like-minded individuals.
  3. Help us grow as people.
  4. Help us express our thoughts.
  5. Help us reach out to different opportunities (e.g. universities).
  6. Help us to be flexible.
  7. Develop passion.
  8. Can be a source of income.
  1. Helps us to de-stress –Hobbies help in the personal growth of an individual. Newly acquired skills also equip our minds with confidence. They all generate happy hormones such as endorphins, which in turn help us calm down. Research has shown that music and art are great influencers in generating positivity in an individual. Many skills like woodworking, crocheting, and bead-making have a positive influence on people’s lives in many ways. When I reflect on my life, painting and crafting have played a major role in redefining me. When my son got Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA) at the tender age of 1.5 years, I had to leave my promising career to be his full-time caretaker. I was able to navigate this tide due to my ability to express my feelings with art.
  1. Meet like-minded individuals –When you enroll yourself into programs close to your heart, it not only nurtures your mind but also brings us closer to like-minded individuals. People with similar interests get connected faster and can relate to the industry—through which, help each other, easing our respective burdens. Likeminded people may also understand you and your perspective better. When I decided to rake up my career plans after my kid went into remission, getting contacts in this alien (US) country was a Herculean task. But, with my painting and doodling, I was able to get a break.
  1. Helps you grow as a person –During career transitions or when you get laid off, leisure interest and professional training build up a person. He/she can find a new way to merge the skill with their job and be an asset to the employer. After being almost 14 years out of my field, it wasn’t easy to transition back. That’s when HMX Harvard helped me. I updated genetics and immunology with some courses online. It helped me grow.
  1. Helps you express your thoughts –Learning new skills and developing hobbies increases our confidence level and also encourages us to express ourselves. It gives everyone a medium to explain their thought process. This in turn boosts our confidence level. For example, art helped me to shake off my inhibitions and speak my mind. I also used art as a medium to explain my ideas for research.
  1. Help us reach out to different opportunities/ universities –When we are back to square one in life, our self-confidence is often low. Crafts and new techniques help us to stand up and reach out to different universities. New skills learnt on the way strengthen our knowledge and helps us to come up with a new and exciting plan that universities can relate to. When I had to submit my essay for HMX Harvard, I doodled my essay, and then felt confident and submitted it. It was a success as I got into my program.
  1. Helps us to be flexible –Alternative form of skills and our passion keeps us flexible. It trains us, educates us, and also teaches us humility. These skills allow us to take a break from a job and keep us refreshed. For example, crocheting personally helps me untwine my confusion and tiredness. I can keep working at it for long hours without feeling the pain. I feel cheerful even after a long day’s work due to my passion.
  1. Develops passion –The most important aspect of learning new things is that we develop a passion. Any art form will make our brain cells which were sleeping active and running. With creative juices flowing, one gets rejuvenated. When I joined an art class along with my then elementary school-aged son, I was very excited to spend an hour of my time every Friday. I often couldn’t wait until the next time. It ignited the same type of strong feelings as genetics, my core subject did.
  1. Can be a source of income –Surprisingly, a new skill can be a side hustle which can reap benefits. It can grow into a passive income. When I was searching for a light in the night to reach my goal, art helped me a lot in many ways—it even helped me earn a few bucks along the way. I am still growing, and my side hustle has proven to be useful to express my feeling and my passion: genetics.

In conclusion, someone’s favorite pastime and new abilities can be of immense help in one’s career and transitions. As I am transitioning into my Ph.D. program (as my son is in remission and joining the college of his passion), my art and crocheting helped me define what I am today. My perspective and inclusion of art and other activities have helped me on my journey towards enrolment into HMX, Harvard. Like me, millions of moms and adults continue to seek a career change. As an ardent believer in life-long education, I ask you all to take my example and follow your hobbies and skills to new, unexplored paths.

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