Do you feel awkward or even panicked when you meet someone new and they ask you what you do for fun? It doesn’t feel good to say, “I surf the internet and watch shows,” but sometimes it may feel like that’s all you do. And it can feel awkward when someone asks what your plans are for the weekend, and your only answer is, “nothing.”
Whether you’ve already given popular hobbies a try and not connected to them or don’t know where to start with hobbies, this article will help you figure out which hobbies may be for you. You will also get examples of hobbies based on your personality and needs.
How to find interests and hobbies
It can be challenging to pick up new hobbies when nothing feels interesting, and we don’t know where to start. You may have already read lists that are full of suggestions for hobbies you can pick up, but those can feel overwhelming. You definitely don’t want to make a sizable financial investment only to discover you’re not interested in that hobby after all.
These tips will help you figure out and narrow down which hobbies you may want to pursue, as well as advice on how to stick with hobbies and enjoy them more.
1. Look at how you spend your time
It’s easy to say, “I just do my basic life tasks, watch things, and spend time online.” But look closer and try to be as specific as possible. Do you play video games? That could be an interest in itself and one you can build on. By learning to code, for example, you could create simple games yourself. Or you may be interested in studying game storytelling or branching out to other types of games like board games.
You could also try to make the tasks you need to do more enjoyable. For example, if you cook food for yourself, your partner, or your family members, learning new things about cooking could keep it more interesting. You could experiment with cooking different cuisines or using unique ingredients. If you love learning random facts, you could join a local trivia event and even make up a quiz yourself.
2. Think back to your early childhood
Many people lose interest in things when they get older, but young children are usually full of curiosity, excitement, and joy. As children, we are still our authentic selves before we get too influenced by the expectations of society and adults around us. Kids tend to play with whatever they like rather than what they think they should.
Try to remember (or ask people who knew you back then) what you did as a young child to get inspiration for new hobbies you can develop.
For example, indoor or outdoor rock climbing may be worth a try now if you enjoyed climbing trees as a kid. If you were into Mortal Kombat, Power Rangers, or superhero movies, martial arts might be a direction to explore. If dressing up in costume was more your thing, learning color theory or how to sew could excite you today.
Start by listing everything you remember enjoying at one point in your life. Include everything you remember giving you joy, whether it’s seeing a movie in the theatre or throwing a ball against a wall. Let the list sit for a few days before returning to it. Look at the items on the list and try to remember and understand which aspects you particularly enjoyed (spending time with people? Feeling fancy?) and consider how you can bring those elements into your life today.
3. Adjust your expectations and go slow
People often give up on hobbies when they don’t feel passionate about them right away. This tendency is particularly prevalent in people with ADHD, who tend to get very excited about new projects and then drop them after a while.
Don’t force yourself to practice for an hour a day. Instead, set reasonable goals for yourself: doodling for ten minutes, watching a video tutorial, and so on. Overloading yourself is likely to lead to overwhelm.
4. Evaluate different areas of your life
Ideally, your different passions, interests, and hobbies would fill the various needs you have. For example, playing sports can help you stay physically active and healthy while engaging in art can help fulfill your need for creativity and emotional expression.
You may recognize some areas in your life that are currently lacking. Let’s say you feel you need to relax more. You can then look for more relaxing hobbies. Using coloring books may be more appropriate than rugby for this area of your life. But rugby may be perfect if you’re looking to meet new people and get active. This article on the best hobbies to meet new people can help.
5. Give yourself permission to quit a new hobby
You may be hesitating to try something new because you’re not sure if you’d enjoy it enough or have enough time or money to keep up with it regularly. Perhaps you feel embarrassed to let people know you’ve started and dropped another hobby.
It’s time for a perspective change. Try to look at this process (and life in general) as a game or playground where you get to try different things and discover who you are and what you like. Your hobbies are for yourself and not for anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with trying something else and finding out it’s not for you. There are endless things in the world still waiting to be discovered by you.
6. Let yourself be bad at a hobby
A typical barrier for people picking up new hobbies is giving up quickly. We build a fantasy in our head of, say, jamming on a stage in front of an audience. Then, picking up a guitar and seeing how slow progress is, realizing that it may take years of practice and hard work discourages us completely.
When you try something new, remember that it takes time to improve. In fact, you don’t ever even have to become the best at something to love doing it.
You don’t need to “be athletic” to benefit from an exercise class once in a while. It’s OK to go to a pole dancing class occasionally and be the worst person in a group full of passionate people who practice three times a week. Try to view a hobby as something that will help you develop yourself rather than something you have to accomplish.
Also, make sure you’re going to a class for beginners. By comparing yourself to people who have been doing this for years, you’re bound to feel frustrated.
7. Ask people you know for ideas
People usually love talking about their passions, interests, and hobbies. People around you may be looking for a chance to talk someone’s ear off about why kettlebells are the superior form of exercise or why TikTok and online streaming services have opened the door for a new chapter in storytelling.
Consider making a post on social media asking, “What’s the most interesting podcast you’ve listened to recently?” Or just post outright: “I’m looking to pick up a new hobby. Please comment with some things you’re currently into :)”
You might also find some inspiration in this article on what people do in their free time.
8. Tune in to your judgment
Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself about having hobbies. If you believe you’re boring or lazy because you don’t have hobbies, there will be much more pressure every time you try something new.
Imagine if someone was following you all day and criticizing everything you do. Exhausting, right? Except it’s what so many of us do to ourselves. If you put so much pressure on yourself, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Try to bring self-compassion into your daily life.
Volunteering can be a great way to fill up your time with interesting activities without having to find a “hobby.” Being of service to others can be a hobby and has a wonderful side effect of making both you and others feel good about yourself.
Whatever your skills are, there are probably ways you can use them to give back and contribute to causes you value.
And before you say you have no skills: that shouldn’t be a worry. There are volunteer tasks most people can do, such as reading stories to kids in daycare, walking dogs at a shelter, or cleaning cages at an animal rescue. Check with local organizations or Volunteer Match for opportunities.
10. Try some free or low-cost hobbies
Cost can be a barrier for many people as they buy expensive new hobby equipment, only to stop using them after several months. They are then more hesitant to try a new hobby and throw their money away.
Some free or low-cost hobbies you can try are writing, gardening (you can get started by saving seeds of some fruit and vegetables like chili and avocado, or regrow scraps), reading (if you have a local library), hiking, juggling, bird watching, origami, and hula hooping.
11. Remove the pressure
Ask yourself why it’s so important for you to have hobbies. Are you looking for things to enrich your life, or are you worried that you’ll be boring if you don’t have any? You can still be an interesting person without having lots of hobbies.
12. Try to find other people to try a new hobby with
You may already have friends who would want to try new things with you. But even if you have no friends, doing hobbies with others can be a great way to meet new people, plus it can incentivize you to continue with your hobby. It’s easier to get out of bed in the morning for a yoga class if you know there’s someone waiting for you.
You can also find people with similar interests by joining a club for adults.
Common reasons for not having hobbies
Many people have resistance to trying new things out of fear of failure. There’s also an increasing sense of needing to be productive at all times, so doing something with no purpose feels like a waste.
Although every person and story is individual, these are the most common reasons why someone may find themselves as an adult with no hobbies or passions.
Depression can rob a person of their ability to look forward to things, enjoy activities, or see the positive in life. It can feel impossible to be passionate about anything when you’re going through intense emotional pain or feeling nothing at all.
2. ADHD or complex trauma
People with ADHD tend to struggle with symptoms that make keeping up with hobbies difficult. For example, starting new tasks before finishing old ones and the inability to prioritize are listed as symptoms of ADHD in adults.
Complex trauma, which is trauma that occurs over time, often in childhood, can also look like ADHD. Along with symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, many children are taught to be people pleasers and, as a result, lose connection with their authentic selves and desires.
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3. Lack of time
Many adults today have so little leisure time between work, commuting, taking care of family, and general “life admin” stuff. The stress of daily life means that they are often too tired in their free time to learn something new. Instead, they will opt for easy activities such as scrolling through social media or watching TV.
4. Not knowing where to start
There are so many possible hobbies in the world, and it can feel overwhelming when you don’t feel a particular pull towards any specific one. It’s hard to know which hobby will hold your attention if none of them have your attention to begin with.
5. Financial reasons
Some hobbies require a certain initial investment to get started, which can feel impossible for someone living paycheck to paycheck. Luckily, there are many free and low-cost hobbies to choose from.
6. Dismissing interests as “not good enough”
Some people do have interests, passions, or hobbies, but they fail to recognize them as such. For example, reading books about self-development or playing word games are interests, but some may feel that they’re not “real” interests or hobbies as long as they’re not doing something more active like painting.
Is it normal not to have hobbies?
20% of respondents in a 2016 survey said they don’t have any hobbies, and an additional 24% said they only have one hobby. So it seems that not having hobbies is quite normal, due to cost, time, or just not finding the right hobbies yet.
What’s the difference between an interest and a hobby?
An interest is a topic you like to think about, read, or talk about. Say you listen to podcasts about space and the possibility of extraterrestrial life: that’s an interest. A hobby is an activity you enjoy doing, such as woodworking, birdwatching, or dancing.
Why do I have no interest in anything?
Not having an interest in anything can be a symptom of depression. If you regularly have a low or bad mood, low self-esteem, and generally feel like you don’t enjoy life, talk to a therapist or a doctor to figure out a treatment plan.