Find a New(-to-You) Hobby as a Grown-Up

September 25, 2018

Every day you go to work, you come home, you cook dinner, you watch Netflix, you go to bed. Or you go to work, you go to happy hour, you come home, you order Seamless, you watch Netflix, you go to bed. Or you go to work, you pick up the kids, you cook dinner, you put the kids to bed, you turn on Netflix, and you pass out. Whatever your daily routine looks like, chances are there’s not a lot of creative “me time” scheduled into your days.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend the bulk of their five daily hours of leisure time watching television (nearly three hours per day), and less than 20 minutes each on other activities, like reading, socializing, exercising, and old fashioned relaxing—and women spend significantly less time on leisure than men. But making the most of this time and developing hobbies are important: They feed parts of ourselves that work and domestic duties don’t, from fostering social connections to expanding knowledge, and have been scientifically proven to improve your mood and decrease stress. Not to mention, hobbies—whether a long-term project or a few hours of diversion—are fun.

So how do you find a hobby, especially as an adult?

Consult Your Inner Child

What did you love to do as a kid? Maybe you had the most fun riding your bike or coloring in coloring books or playing Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, people change...but not really, and odds are the things that brought you pleasure as a child will still be a good time. Try returning to those hobbies, or try the grown-up versions of childhood favorites. If you loved animals as a kid, see if your local animal shelter has any volunteer opportunities; if you liked to run, see if there are any half marathons or running clubs in your area. The activities that made you happy once will likely make you happy again.

Test It Out

Give yourself time to explore the idea of your new hobby before you throw yourself (and your money) into it. If you’re thinking about joining a sports league but aren’t ready to commit, head to the park and watch a game—do you feel like you want to join in? If you’re thinking about getting into bread baking, go to your local bookstore or library and take a look at some bread cookbooks—do you feeling excited reading the recipes? If you’re wanting to try painting, buy a small watercolor palette before investing in an expensive set of oil paints. Dip your toe into a new hobby, and if you find that it’s not right for you, move on to another idea.


Take a look around your home (or in your Etsy shopping history) at the things you like to buy for yourself. Could you make these things yourself? If your home is overflowing with plants, consider taking a pottery class and making your own planters. If you can’t stop buying scented candles, try making your own (and then gifting them to your friends, who will be super impressed). If you’re drinking a beer while you're reading this, why not start brewing your own? A hobby can be a long-term investment, but it doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment—a simple project can be lots of fun, and will often lead to more.

Phone a Friend

Getting motivated to make time for a new hobby can be hard, but it’s easier when you have a friend to hold you accountable—and often more fun to do things with another person. If there’s a dance class you’ve been wanting to try but have been feeling too shy to go on your own, get a buddy to sign up with you. If you’ve been wanting to take more hikes but feel nervous going into the woods on your own because you’re a reasonable person who doesn’t head off into the woods by herself, plan a day trip with a pal. If you’ve been wanting to learn a new language but don’t want to be the oldest person in class, bring a friend—you can be the oldest people in class together. The best part of doing a hobby with someone else is that you get the share the pleasure of the activity, and maybe a drink afterwards, too.

Join the Food52 Cookbook Club!
Join the Food52 Baking Club!

Hobby with a Purpose

Some hobbies are just for fun, but some hobbies can serve another purpose, too. Maybe you want to get stronger arms, or maybe you want to find inner peace. Maybe you want to develop your attention to detail, or maybe you want to release all your pent-up energy. Or maybe you want to spend your free time giving back to your community in some way. There’s a hobby for that...and any part of yourself that you want to work on. From kickboxing to gardening, jigsaw puzzles to volunteering, there are plenty of ways to spend 45 minutes a day making yourself a little better.

Try Your Hand at the "World's Best Cake"

What do you do for a hobby? Let us know in the comments!

Listen Now

On our new weekly podcast, two friends separated by the Atlantic take questions and compare notes on everything from charcuterie trends to scone etiquette.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • alisha5050
  • Kimberly Hunter Soltero
    Kimberly Hunter Soltero
  • dotv
  • M
  • tia
Bunny Schulman

Written by: Bunny Schulman


alisha5050 July 20, 2020
Thank you so much for sharing the details about "Find a New Hobby as a Grown-Up"
Kimberly H. September 26, 2018
I recently took a stained glass class and loved it! Could totally do it at home, too, with some minimal investment in tools, once I take a few more classes.
dotv September 25, 2018
And beyond the lists of things we all sort of think of (yoga, dancing, hiking) anything can become a hobby if it interests you and destresses you. For example, you can become a picnic ninja. Plan interesting menus, hit up vintage shops and collect great picnic wares from different eras, bring your friends and family on all sorts of odd picnic adventures. Also a good way to save money by not eating out but still ‘doing something’.

I also love the idea of taking up a hobby people would not normally expect from you. Upend stereotypes of masculine/feminine hobbies and stretch ourselves against our own conditioning.
M September 25, 2018
"Test out" hobbies during tv time. It's a great way to build interest without creating a lack that the hobby needs to live up to.
tia September 25, 2018
If you like watching TV but want it to be more social, you could try starting a discussion group. I recently started a book club using Slack (we're not all local) and was pleasantly surprised by how much it added to my beloved hobby of reading.

One of my other hobbies is knitting; I'm pretty sure it has stuck around because it's portable, unlike sewing or kayaking (two OTHER things I'd like to do more of). It's great for casual get-togethers and we have a standing craft lunch at work two days a week. Plus I really enjoy how tactile it is and that I can see actual progress. Most of my work is very long term so having projects that I can finish as a hobby feels really good.
Bevi September 25, 2018
I grow birdhouse gourds and paint them. It's a great indoor pastime.
SusanKP September 25, 2018
I learned to knit after my knee surgery. It's been a great community and a wonderful way to create a sock collection.