2020 may be the year that you take up a new hobby. Many Americans have been stuck in quarantine for months with little to do but watch TV. Moreover, with operational limitations, and even outright closures, of restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, movie theaters, museums, recreation centers, and amusement parks, many people have canceled their summer vacation plans.
Without your typical entertainment options available, you might have the time to find a hobby that appeals to you and even master it. According to the VARK theory of learning styles, most people have a dominant style of learning that falls into one of four categories:
- Visual: These learners prefer to see a video, chart, or diagram to learn a new hobby.
- Auditory: Auditory learners pick up a new hobby by hearing it explained and asking questions.
- Reading/Writing: Learners with a reading/writing learning style can pick up a new hobby by reading text, highlighting words, or taking notes.
- Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learners “learn by doing,” such as participation in demonstrations.
Most people use a blend of styles to learn a new hobby. As a result, you may need to combine a few techniques to master your new hobby. Here are some ideas for finding and learning a new hobby this year:
Try It Out
If you see something you would like to learn, sometimes the best way to learn it is to try it out. One example of a hobby that is often learned through experience is cooking.
For example, the best way to recreate your favorite restaurant’s pepperoni pizza might be to understand the basics of baking, then experiment with the ingredients until you get exactly the results you want. Moreover, once you have some hands-on experience, you can make adjustments to make your recipe even better than the original.
Another example of a hobby that you can learn by doing is art. If you have an interest in sculpture, painting, or drawing, the best way to learn is to practice. Art is often in the eye of the beholder and you may find that your aesthetic sense and artistic skill improve only by finding a subject and sculpting, painting, or drawing it.
Also, keep in mind that art can open up other hobbies. If you see a sunset worth painting, you might need to photograph it, so you can recreate it later. This allows you to experiment with photography equipment and techniques, leading you into a hobby taking photographs.
When you try out a new hobby, such as art, be sure that you choose a good space in your home in which to practice it. You’ll want a space that is slightly secluded from other distractions in your home and that has plenty of room for any materials you need. If your house has a garage, try that out for your hobby. You may need to invest in garage door repair services, floor refinishing, or another type of improvement project in the garage before you can successfully work in there. Any work you put into the space, however, will only benefit your future hobby.
Read a Book
Although you may be spending a lot of time at home, the Internet and curbside delivery offered by many local libraries provide most Americans with access to books and magazines. Books and magazine articles have been written about almost any hobby, so a visit to your local bookseller’s or public library’s website might be the best way to find a hobby that interests you.
Just as importantly, hobby books and magazines often provide step-by-step instructions for beginning hobbyists, as well as advanced projects for more experienced enthusiasts.
For example, if your chosen hobby is to buy furniture from a local pawn shop or second hand store, then restore it, you will find many books about furniture restoration with simple instructions so beginners can strip and repaint the furniture. However, as your skills advance, you will also find many books about furniture repair or even how to build furniture from scratch.
Similarly, if your chosen hobby is fly tying, many books have been written with fly patterns for every skill level from beginner to expert. If you get a few different books, you will even be able to pull the best features from a few different patterns and begin to create your own custom patterns.
Find a Mentor
Sometimes, the best way to learn a new hobby is to find a teacher or mentor with more experience than you. For example, you may choose a hobby that your friend, neighbor, or work colleague engages in. Seeing both the enjoyment that someone else gets from a hobby, as well as the results of their hobby, can provide powerful encouragement to try something new.
One hobby that can definitely be better enjoyed, and learned more safely, with a mentor is hobbyist welding. Whether a hobbyist wants to learn oxy-acetylene gas welding or arc welding, the high temperatures combined with the risks of combustible fuel or high voltages can make welding a tricky hobby to master safely. By learning from a mentor, a hobbyist welder can learn safely.
Furthermore, welding, like any industrial process, has its tricks and techniques to achieving exactly the desired results. For example, many welders have learned through trial and error how to create a perfect joint without burning through the pieces being joined. This is a process that can be taught by a skilled welder much more effectively than an instructional video or book.
Take a Class
Even during the pandemic, classes to learn a new hobby are still available through virtual adult education programs, community colleges, retail stores, and private groups. Many of these classes are offered for free or for a minimal fee.
For example, computer stores, local educational institutions, and businesses that offer computer services might provide live or online classes to teach computer skills. Through these classes, you might learn how to edit videos, produce computer art, or even write computer software.
Classes offer a few benefits over learning on your own:
- Instructor: The instructor is often the most important resource you will gain from a class, since the instructor has experience in the hobby you are learning and in how to teach it. For learners who require an interactive process, being able to ask questions of an instructor can make a significant difference in their ability to master the hobby.
- Materials: Instructors will usually provide a list of books, videos, or other learning materials that they have found helpful in understanding and mastering the skills involved in the hobby.
- Syllabus: When learning a new hobby, many hobbyists struggle with even figuring out where to start. A syllabus provides the structure to approach a new hobby in an organized way. Moreover, a syllabus can minimize boredom and keep a hobbyist motivated to continue learning the hobby.
Observe a Master
If you cannot find a mentor or take a class, you can still learn a new hobby by observing a master at work. You can find a master anywhere, including businesses that use the same skills that you want to learn for your hobby.
For example, if you want to learn screen printing, you might seek out a T-shirt printing business and ask if you can observe their manufacturing floor. There, you can see the process of creating art, making a set of screens for each color, and imprinting the shirts with layers of ink. You can also observe a director such as Michael Palance.
A few things you should be aware of, however, if you go this route:
- Access: Some businesses might turn you down. This might be for safety reasons or because they use a proprietary process that is not open to the public. However, many businesses will be open to a request to watch their processes at work.
- Liability: You may be required to sign a liability disclaimer so that if you are injured while on the business’s property, you will not be able to sue.
- Instruction: You will be in a place of business. As a result, the workers might not have time to explain what they are doing. You may be limited to watching what happens as a visual aid to your other resources for learning about your new hobby.
Watch Online Videos
For many hobbyists, watching online videos is more useful than a live interaction. The reason is that many videos can be found from many different sources, providing many different viewpoints. Moreover, videos can be re-watched to understand points that might have been missed during an initial viewing.
The disadvantage of online videos is that you have no direct interaction with the teacher unless you are able to contact the teacher through the comments section or social media contact information. If anything in the video is unclear, you might end up going down a rabbit hole of online research to clear up your confusion.
Nevertheless, online videos are particularly useful to gain an introduction to a particular area of interest. For example, if you want to learn how diamonds are rated, you can search for introductory videos by diamond buyers who explain the “four Cs” of diamond ratings. In this case, a video would be particularly helpful because the videos would likely include visual aids so you can distinguish between diamond colors or learn to identify inclusions.
Attend a Community Event
Although COVID-19 has caused the cancellation of many community events, some events have moved online. For example, many community art shows have gone virtual, with digital photographs of the artwork and video or audio interviews with the artists.
Although these events have traditionally served a local community, going online has allowed these events to become available to a global audience. Thus, you should be able to access a community event in another state, or even another country, that appeals to your interest in a new hobby.
For example, if you have an interest in custom jewelry, you can seek out community events and the interviews that often accompany them from around the world. In some circumstances, the interviews might even be live streamed and allow audience interaction. In these cases, you might be able to ask questions of the jeweler.
This ability to interact with artisans from many different community events will give you a unique perspective that you might not get from only local events or events that you could travel to. For example, silver has been used in jewelry around the world for more than 6,000 years. Seeing how different cultures use silver and how different artisans work with silver can be valuable to learning a new hobby of customer jewelry-making.
Go to a Trade Show
Like community events, trade shows have largely moved online due to the pandemic. However, the benefit of this transition is that they are much more accessible than ever before.
For example, the largest RV trade show is in Pennsylvania every year. People who are unable to travel to Pennsylvania, even in ordinary times, would never be able to see the thousands of RVs for sale. With the pandemic, trade shows have had to adapt so that attendees can see the exhibits while minimizing crowds. As a result, the trade shows that have not been canceled have moved online to allow virtual attendance.
The primary benefit of trade shows for beginning hobbyists is that trade shows usually offer educational programs. Thus, a nascent camper might be able to learn about Dutch oven cooking, solar powered RVs, and possible destinations in just a few hours at an RV trade show.
One way to get a jump start on a new hobby is to volunteer with an organization that is involved with a hobby that interests you. Volunteers are usually provided with free training. In fact, your free training might even provide you with an education that is broader and more current than what you might get from a book or online video.
Thus, if your new hobby is exercise and you volunteer at a local health fair, you might learn about many other aspects of physical fitness, like nutrition, body sculpting, and meditation, that might also interest you. Not only might this training introduce you to unfamiliar areas relating to your hobby, but might provide you with more current information since you would be expected to be up to date with your knowledge.
Join a Club
Sometimes the best way to learn a new hobby is to spend time around other people with the same interests. You can find others in the same hobby in many ways including:
- Online forums: Whether you are looking for repair advice or trying to buy used Corvettes for sale, searching online forums can often lead you to exactly the information you need as well as other people who share the same interests.
- Clubs: Enthusiasts, regardless of the object of their enthusiasm, often form clubs and hold events. For example, Corvette owners might organize a car show and motorcycle clubs often schedule group rides to a local attraction.
- Conventions: Like trade shows, conventions often involve both exhibitor booths and educational programs. However, unlike trade shows, conventions are usually directed to consumers rather than businesses. For example, toy collectors often meet and exchange knowledge at toy conventions.
Once you meet others who have similar interests, you can stay in contact with them as you grow into a new hobby. These friends will provide information and companionship that will benefit everyone in the hobbyist community.
Picking up a new hobby can provide many benefits:
- Learn: You are never too old to learn a new skill or gain new knowledge.
- Be productive: No one likes to waste time. Engaging in a new hobby, whether it is fishing, jogging, or collecting shot glasses, allows you to use your time productively.
- Companionship: Many hobbies provide interaction with others who are also involved in the same hobby.
As you learn your new hobby, you will likely find many sources of information, including mentors, classes, books, and online videos. As you grow into a new hobby, you will even reach a level of mastery where you may pass along your knowledge to a new generation of hobbyists.
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