How to Stay Committed to a Hobby Until it’s Second Nature

  • Tom 
Artist creating intricate paintings of trees as a hobby

In a world vying for our attention at every turn, knowing how to commit to a hobby can feel like a challenge.

This article is about sticking to a new hobby, but it’s also a short guide on how to stick to any routine. You’ll need discipline just like any other venture.

 A bit of passion for the subject goes a long way. You need to figure out whether it’s something you love doing regularly.

But even when it’s a hobby you’re passionate about, other things can get in the way. Whether it’s your own crazy mind or external life events, it may feel like this hobby habit of yours is becoming less frequent.

Perhaps you’ve had the time to start a new hobby routine this year, but now you’re struggling to stay focused on it.

The key aim is turning these activities into lasting habits. That way, you can reach your ultimate goal without distraction.  But how do you do that? You start small and track your progress.

Here’s How to Stay Committed to a Hobby Until it’s Second Nature…

Set long-term goals

What do you want to get out of this hobby? Is this even something you want to do?

That’s the first thing that should be clear in your mind. Then you’ll know if it’s a hobby you can stick to. Check out some hobbies to do for further inspiration if you’re unsure.

Once you’ve figured that out, write down your long-term goals and when you want to achieve them by. Be realistic too. If, for example, you want to learn how to play guitar, saying “I want to be as good as Slash by this time next year” is a pretty high expectation to set for yourself. Maybe aim for learning one piece of music from start to finish first. 

Write down what you can realistically achieve and how long you expect it to take, then we can work towards getting there…

Break your hobby into bitesize pieces

Piece of delicious chocolate cake

Eating a full cake in one sitting isn’t easy. That’s why we eat an appropriately sized slice. So why do we make life hard by giving ourselves too much to do at once? If you eat too much cake, it makes you feel sick. It’s the same when you give yourself too much to do.

Hobbies are supposed to be enjoyable. There’s no rush to get it done. Don’t treat it like work when it’s just a bit of fun. And don’t be greedy by thinking that biting off more than you can chew will get you to your goals faster.

When I first started producing music, I always impatiently wanted to start and finish a track within the day. I was just so eager to achieve the reward without putting in the work!

I never got it. The results were either something terrible, generic, or incomplete.

That doesn’t exactly reinforce the desire to continue, does it? I was never hitting what I wanted because I was doing too much in a short amount of time. The results were sloppy.

The thing is, my degree depended on it. I took a step back and looked at my process.

To succeed, I had to break the production down into bitesize pieces (intro, chorus, etc.). Each piece was a milestone of completion that I could tick off the list.

Now, instead of the satisfaction only being to complete the track, I was happy every time I hit a new milestone. And, I was actually able to reach the reward for achieving something.

Assuming you now know your goals from step one, here’s how to break them down into achievable milestones:

  1. Pick one of your main goals. Remember to keep it realistic!
  2. Break your goal down into its composite parts (think intro, chorus, bridge, etc.)
  3. Prioritise the most important activities in that list
  4. Work on each part and tick it off when complete

Accept that results take time

The words "and breathe" glowing neon over leaves

Separate fact from fiction

No one becomes a pro overnight. It takes a lifetime of work to master an art, so don’t start something under the illusion you can waltz in and become a legend. These are just fantasies.

Don’t obsess over results

Compulsively testing yourself makes you feel like you’re going nowhere if you haven’t become a creative savant within two days. Instead, immerse yourself in your hobby without the expectation of fame or glory only two days later.

Do what makes you happy

If you love your hobby, you’ll want to do it because it brings you joy. When I talk about setting goals and so forth, it is not meant that you should treat it like work. Just take it easy, ride the wave, and see where it takes you. If it starts to feel too much like work, it’s okay to take a break.

You’ll want to feel some sense of progress, though. Maybe you dream that your hobby could become something more someday. If that’s the case, you should take the next points in this article with all seriousness.

Journal your progress

Sure, if your hobby is just drinking beer or watching TV, there’s not much point. But I’m talking about sticking to a productive hobby routine that gives you skills over time. Abilities that will make you flourish and could earn you money or recognition down the line. If nothing else, a hobby that’ll give you satisfaction and pride in yourself for achieving something.

I often feel like I’m not making progress with something. But if I write down all the tasks I’ve completed at the end of the week:

·         It turns out I’ve achieved much more than I thought.

·         It gives me a sense that progress has moved forward.

·         It motivates me to carry on doing what I’m doing.

If you get into the habit of journaling, you’ll start to frame your progress positively, and realise just how much you’ve accomplished as time goes on. That positive reinforcement makes it effortless to commit to your hobby.

I highly recommend keeping a journal. Personally, nothing beats pen and paper. Even in this age of 1001 note-taking productivity apps… Pen and paper just works. Better. Probably something to do with not having 100s of apps to distract you?

Success comes down to discipline.

Monk praying and looking towards the sky

“But I want results now!”

“Maybe I’ll just eat a tub of ice cream instead.”

Yeah, that’s a fast road to nowhere.

If you want to know how to stick to a hobby, you need discipline. It seems these days, people bounce between so many things that they never truly become great at anything. Maybe it’s always been that way, but technology and millions of distractions certainly don’t make it any easier.

Real discipline comes from experience, starting with small steps. That’s why I recommend setting small goals, breaking them down, and journaling your progress. It takes time to get better at a hobby, so it’s best to take satisfaction in the small steps you achieve rather than only being happy when you reach the “ultimate goal”.

Most importantly, do activites that fulfill you. Hobbies are something you do in your spare time, usually because it brings you happiness.

Even if you’re motivated by a financial incentive, it should be something you feel joy doing, and have no sense of desperation in getting results quickly. Just take it easy and enjoy the ride. Then a year or two down the line, you’ll be kicking ass at your hobby effortlessly, and maybe getting that reward you were hoping for at the beginning of your journey.