Having a hobby you enjoy keeps leisure time fulfilling.
As a kid, you probably had a handful of hobbies and participated in extracurricular activities. Playing sports or being part of a school club was a regular rite of passage.
But now that you’re an adult, your job likely consumes most of your week, and you might spend your free time scrolling through social media and watching TV shows you’ve already seen instead of trying new things.
There’s nothing wrong with turning off your brain when you want to relax. But finding hobbies like you did when you were younger could bring you more joy and help you learn new skills during leisure time.
Finding something you love to do — and sticking with it — takes curiosity and discipline. Here’s how to find a hobby as an adult.
Why are hobbies important?
Hobbies are more than just a way to spend your free time outside of work. And their benefits vary depending on what you decide to practice.
One study found that 75% of people who made art had lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, after doing so. Creative hobbies such as watercolor painting and knitting are excellent ways to make art, reduce cortisol, and lower stress. They bring your attention to the task at hand, allowing you to free your mind and stop worrying.
Besides the psychological benefits of being present and practicing creativity, hobbies positively affect your energy levels — particularly ones that involve exercise. One study found that those who participate in physical leisure activities are less susceptible to fatigue.
Going on walks or attending fitness classes could wake you up and help you resist tiredness. And exercise reduces blood pressure, builds muscle mass, and improves your heart and lungs, boosting your overall physical health.
Many hobbies also give you the chance to socialize, whether that’s hosting a weekly game night with family or making an effort to find new friends at social events. Human connection prevents loneliness, encourages resilience, and boosts your mental health, and hobbies that involve it give you the chance to build your social health.
Hobbies versus interests
Although different hobbies and interests contribute to your personality, their roles in your daily life differ.
An interest is a desire to learn something new. Unlike a hobby, an interest doesn’t require physical action. You may be interested in oil painting after viewing a gallery exhibition, or in cooking after visiting a great new restaurant. While interests are only intellectual, they give you a window into the types of hobbies you may want to try.
A hobby is an enjoyable leisure activity you take part in consistently when you’re free from other responsibilities. What differentiates a hobby from an interest is that it extends beyond an intellectual desire and helps you engage in a physical action to learn, create, or build something.
If ski competitions fascinate you — an interest — they might encourage you to take skiing lessons every weekend — a hobby.
How to find a hobby as an adult
Numerous factors drive adult learning, such as financial incentives and professional development opportunities. But even though these external factors do motivate you, learning a new skill needs to personally fulfill and interest you if you’re going to stick with it.
While most hobbies for adults do become activities that generate income or affect your career, their primary purpose is to create a sense of fulfillment.
When no external motivation drives you to try a particular hobby, it’s challenging to know what new things to try and where to start. Look at a list of hobbies and interests for inspiration, or follow one of these tips:
1. Think about what you enjoyed doing when you were little
As a child, there’s a good chance that curiosity and imagination dictated your interests. You likely tried new activities more often than you do as an adult and didn’t compare yourself to others quite as much as you might now.
Think back to the activities you loved as a child. You may unlock interesting hobbies you’ll enjoy today. They could be the subjects you enjoyed the most in school or the activities you participated in at home.
If you were a crafty child, artistic hobbies such as painting, sculpting, or textile art may appeal to you. If you loved performing skits for your family, you could try an improv group.
If you were athletic and involved in school sports, you could join an adult recreational sports team that meets outside of working hours. Childhood is a fantastic place to find inspiration, and you might heal your inner child in the process.
2. Consider your interests
The exciting thing about interests is that you don’t need to be an expert. Focus on them, no matter how small, and see if you can turn any into hobbies to do after work. You could try gardening and growing food if you’re passionate about botany or sustainability. Or if you’re interested in fashion, some hobby examples include sewing and jewelry making.
And watching someone else do an activity, either recreationally or for their career, and finding interest in their experience could indicate an activity you’d like to try. If you love watching Olympic figure skating, you could try taking a class. It doesn’t matter if you become an athlete. The process is the point.
3. Take an intro class
Fear of failure and perfectionism might create barriers to trying new activities. But if you overcome your worries, you might surprise yourself. All it takes is a little self-confidence to dive in and show yourself you can do it.
Intro classes are a great way to dip your toes in and see if something’s worth committing to. For activities requiring more extensive classes, many organizations offer your first one free or for a discount. If you’re unsure how to find one, try searching “classes” or “lessons” in your area. You’ll likely find everything from horseback riding to graphic design.
4. Take a quiz
Finding a hobby you like is personal. What your friends and family members enjoy doing in their free time might not be the same for you. If you’re really stuck on what interests you, personality quizzes and assessments could give you some ideas.
Taking a test to identify your personality type, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), shows you what hobbies (and even careers) could potentially suit you. The MBTI, for example, suggests that people who are ISFP are creative and curious, and ISFPs could start an artistic side hustle or make music to find fulfillment.
But you don’t need to take a quiz to find your passion. All it takes is a little introspection. If you’re an extrovert who enjoys caring for others, volunteering could help you flex your social skills and serve people in your community.
How do I find a hobby when nothing interests me?
You’re not alone if you aren’t sure what you enjoy. It’s frustrating when you don’t know what to do with your life or your free time.
But feeling stuck isn’t permanent. You just lack inspiration — and the best part about inspiration is that you can find it. Here are three ways to spark your curiosity:
1. Pay attention to the moments in your day that relax you
A hobby doesn’t need to be your biggest passion. Spend your leisure time doing any activity that makes you happy or relaxes you.
If your favorite part of the day is your cycling commute to work, biking in your free time to new destinations could be a great hobby. Or if you find yourself reading and writing, joining a book club or becoming a blogger are terrific creative outlets.
2. Join a friend
If you need motivation and moral support to step outside your comfort zone, spending time with friends while they participate in their favorite hobbies may help you find one you enjoy. You could ask them to bring you along to an activity they think you’ll like — or even surprise you with something out-of-the-box.
And if you and your friends are all unsure of what hobbies to try, choose an intro class to take together. You could also plan activity nights to explore new interests such as scrapbooking, board games, or fun DIY projects.
3. Try a hobby related to your work
If you enjoy your job, try something that connects to your career path. This is only a good option if doing work-related activities outside office hours serves as a form of excitement rather than exhaustion. Approach it with caution to avoid disrupting your work-life balance.
But this option is worth a shot if you have a job you love and want to continue exploring. If you work in the hospitality industry, taking cooking classes or learning to make wine are potential hobbies. And if you’re a programmer who loves problem-solving, hobbies such as video games, rock climbing, and jigsaw puzzles might fulfill you.
Find a hobby to unlock happiness
Hobbies have extensive benefits for your physical and mental health. And knowing how to find a hobby can help you make the most of your free time. Whether you’re looking for an activity to take your mind off work or an active pastime with health benefits, there are endless options to explore.