Hobbies aren't just for the idle. Research has time and again proven that pursuing your passions in a hobby can help an individual in various aspects of his or her life.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, says that he learnt more from a hobby than he did at Harvard. In fact, he has made learning about a candidate's hobby outside of their job a common interview question at Facebook, which he explains is a reflection of a person's passion and leadership.
While you may pursue hobbies out of your workplace, these passions can also build core skills, grow your network, give you different perspectives, improve your health, re-energise you, and so much more, which all lend towards becoming a better and more productive employee.
Here are hobbies you can consider pursuing in the new year, that can also build up key skills that may improve various facets of your professional life.
Whether you work as a project manager, teacher, engineer or even a freelancer, you are required to communicate with people to do your job well. Although most of us don't physically jot down notes anymore, writing remains an essential skill regardless of your job scope.
While it is not going to be explicitly stated on your job description, everyone has to communicate clearly on emails or other work-related applications with colleagues, customers and suppliers in a professional manner. More importantly, what you want to communicate has to be clear and concise to provide instructions or make your thoughts known.
Journaling, blogging, or writing anything, are great ways to start honing your literary skills. As you continue to write, you will understand the power of words as well as its limitations as a mode of communications. While words can encourage teamwork and get suppliers and customers to be more empathetic, it can also create miscommunication and ambiguity if not done well. Worse, if you do not have good grammar, you may not be taken seriously in a professional environment.
Besides that, writing also expands your creativity, allowing you to see problems from multiple points of view – with first person, second person and third person perspectives to storytelling. The more you practice writing, the more articulate you will become as you search for words, and the easier you will find it to express your thoughts in words.
This can help you confidently craft proposals at work, express your professional thoughts on LinkedIn or embark on a project like writing a book that you may have always wanted to do.
Many people shy away from the thought of photography as a hobby because it may seem rather expensive and technical with all the equipment that one needs to purchase before being able to start.
However, with today's high-powered smartphones, you really don't need to spend an exorbitant amount to "indulge" in photography. In addition, being a skilled photographer can make you the "go-to" guy in the office on many occasions, such as team building, company outings and even on ad-hoc company projects, deepening your relationships with colleagues in the company.
Even simple things such as putting up a good picture of yourself or to showcase your company with a well-taken picture on LinkedIn can make a big difference.
Photography can help you look at the world from different angles and capture moments that matter. You will also be forced to become more observant of everything in your surroundings – lines, colours, lights, things that are out of place or want to fit into your frame – which trains your mind to look at your work from different approaches.
Each picture you take presents a new opportunity to practice everything you've learned. When you take a picture of a child, you will realise that rather than taking it from where you are standing, you can also take it from the child's perspective – from his or her height – and these are the things that can set you apart in the way you approach your challenges at work.
Most people in Singapore grew up playing the recorder in school. However, even if you didn't use that initial starting point to grow your appreciation in learning to play other musical instruments, it's not too late to start today.
Having the interest and talent to play a musical instrument can have great benefits such as improving your memory and fine-tuning your reasoning skills. If you're ready to break into song and dance, there are also advantages such as learning teamwork and collaboration in forming a group and choreographing the performance. Being talented is often insufficient, as you are still required to put in hard work and have the discipline to rehearse.
While doing this, you are leaning towards the left side of your brain to think creatively and outside the box, about rhythm, beats and words to create something unique that others will appreciate.
Being part of a choir, band or dance group requires you to not just perfect your part, but also understand the bigger picture of how other people's roles add to the entire performance, and how they complement your part.
There's nothing like reading a good book, burning through the pages right to the last word. In school, we were taught that reading is fun, easy and allows you to learn.
It's all true.
Reading today has become even more accessible thanks to e-books and e-libraries such as Overdrive and even borrowing books from the Singapore Library. With such an extensive reading list at your fingertip, you will definitely be able to find a book on the entrepreneurs that inspire you, the stories that captivate you or subjects that teach you.
These are books that can improve your success in work, be it through working better and smarter or even starting your own business or pushing to learn new skills and expand domain knowledge to stay at the forefront of your industry. You will also start looking the part of a knowledgeable employee with broad worldview in conversations with your managers, bosses and even potential future bosses.
Even the most successful entrepreneurs devote time to regularly reading. Just "google" for what Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk are reading, and you will find numerous articles on their reading lists.
You eat at least three meals a day, so why not enjoy the process of cooking for yourself and your loved ones. The benefits that come along with preparing homecooked meals are innumerable to help you improve skills that will help you stand out at the workplace too!
For one, cooking requires you to be focused and to multi-task. You need to pay attention to how much you need to cook, how long ingredients need to cook, and how to present dishes so your guests will enjoy it best. You have to be equally focused on the dozens of other ingredients that need to be prepared at the same time.
You also need to plan your meals – finding out you don't have certain crucial ingredients in the midst of cooking is not an option. You need to make a list of groceries to shop for, ingredients to prepare in a particular order in many instances, and the kitchenware you need to cook and plate it in.
That's not all. You have to persevere in handling missteps and have creative flexibility in modifying the dish to suit you and your guests' tastes and dietary restrictions.
As an added benefit of being able to cook well – you also get to choose to be healthier by preparing lunches for the week ahead.
Doing better for yourself
As you strive to achieve better for your career, don't neglect your health. With AIA Vitality, you can mix certain passions with healthier outcomes for yourself, including cooking healthier with an online nutritional assessment and 20% cashback on HealthyFoodTM ingredients at over 50 Cold Storage, Jasons and Market Place stores.
In addition, you can leverage on our enhanced AIA Vitality with improved lifestyle rewards including GrabFood.
Find out more about how you can plan for the future, live healthier and experience the best life has to offer here.