Should It Be a Hobby or Business?

My path is quite different than most, but not all, in DA. Being on Social Security Disability limits the amount of money I can earn while receiving benefits. Further, I am convinced that, in part, my illness was caused by self-will run riot because I was obsessed with chasing fame and success. I worked a full-time, high-pressure job and on the side, kept banging my head against the wall trying to achieve in ways that clearly weren’t meant for me. So I was blindly throwing away money and time in a reckless pursuit of a dream that I couldn’t make happen.

There is a difference between persistence and delusion. I was far gone past the former and deep into the latter.

It took a year and a half for my PRG team to help me recognize my insanity around fame and success-seeking. For my entire adult life, I never had a hobby. I found some way to chase fame and financial success through whatever I did. My mind was a constant stream of ideas for how to get famous and successful doing something that I loved. Conversely, every new idea that passed by me drove my mind to think how I could find a way to become successful and famous at it.

The problem was, I ended up despising whatever I did. Or I got bored with it. Or I felt like I didn’t know enough about it. Or it didn’t happen right away and I became despondent. Or it was too much work. Or I didn’t have the money to do it right. Or I just didn’t know what to do.

Or, most of all, I didn’t feel a long-term passion for any of my projects, which is the key to success. Even those things I thought I loved were a chore when I had to do them to create the business I thought I wanted.

The truth is that I was a dilettante in all my ventures, but never worked to became an expert. Oh, I wanted fame and success, alright, but I wanted it to be easy.

In DA recovery, I discovered three important facts about myself with the help of my PRG team:

  1. I do not have the mindset of an entrepreneur. I do not multi-task very well and get distracted by minutiae too easily. I function far better working for someone else.
  2. The idea of starting a new money-making, fame venture is a very potent and dangerous drug for me that adversely affects my health.
  3. The pressure of producing to deadline now blocks my creativity.

Over the past year, for the first time in my life, I developed a hobby. I draw strange little pictures with markers in 3″ x 5″ journals. It has been incredibly healing for me and I draw nearly every day. It’s the first time I have done anything creative just for my own pleasure. And when I am very dizzy, it is soothing to my system.

I have a friend who is a different kind of artist. She, too, has been doing her art passionately as a hobby for years. We have both talked about looking at our respective art as a hobby and if some ever sold, it would be fine, but we needed to remember that the focus is on the passion of doing it.

When she had opportunities to sell her work, her creativity soared. Instead of feeling panicked, she came up with all kinds of new ideas for her art. She didn’t see preparing for a show as pressure at all. In fact, she used each experience to pick customers’ brains about what else to offer. Sales are still small, but she she focuses on creating more types of items to reach different audiences. With each small step she takes, it becomes clearer that she is on the right path to creating a real business with her passion.

My experience is the opposite. I recently had an opportunity to show my art in our township’s buildings and found myself starting to spin. Then there was a local art group that really liked my work and wanted me to join. My husband was encouraging me to take my art on the road and ask some stores to look at it. A framer wanted to put one of my pieces up for sale. As he said, “Oh, it will definitely sell. Someone will grab it for a gift at the last minute at Christmas.”

My adrenaline kicked up and suddenly, I have to be Picasso (or, more likely, Grandma Moses at my age). I need business cards and frames and and and and and…

The truth is, I have very limited funds and, aside from everything else, I don’t want to buy frames with my money. Plus, there is then the nightmare of ensuring I report my earnings properly to Social Security and watching that I don’t exceed the limit.

I don’t even know if I want to sell my art. The thought of someone “grabbing it” last minute was painful. Far better to give it to someone who would appreciate it. And I know that having my art displayed in office buildings is definitely not going to give me the high that I would be seeking by doing so.

Self-seeking is a big defect for me. Feeding that monster is not my path to recovery. So I told the township that I couldn’t get frames this year. And I told the framer that I wasn’t going to sell (or frame) my picture. And I have given some of my art to people who enjoy it.

So, the point of this story is that if you have a hobby you love and business flows from it, and you feel energized and more creative, go for it. But if you find that each step you take to turn it into a business is making you miserable, resentful, and blocked … maybe you shouldn’t.

There really aren’t that many things we do that make our heart sing, so when you find one, cherish it and know its true value is far greater than the price someone would pay for it.

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