Having a hobby that we enjoy and for which you have a passion can really bring out joy and improve our lives. It can give us something fun and enjoyable to do during our leisure time and provides us the opportunity to learn new skills. Over the past two decades, hobbies in general seem to have dropped off, whereas in the past they were seen as an essential part of a “balanced life”, between work and other things, having a hobby (no matter what that is) does not seem to be as important as it was in the past.
The best way to cultivate a new hobby is to try different hobbies until one “sticks”. Of course, all of us are unique and, therefore, our interests and hobbies vary. But once we find a hobby that we truly enjoy and are passionate about, we become hooked. It becomes a real part of our lives and captivates us in a very personal way. What matters the most is that you enjoy your hobby, and you are doing it for the right reasons, your own sense of enjoyment and not due to pressure from any other people.
Your hobbies are a part of you, no less than your family, job, friends, or any other part of you.
Is your hobby also your passion or has your passion become your hobby? Does it matter? What about interests, where do they fit in? A lot of people think that your hobby is your passion and that you must have a hobby you are passionate about; I disagree for several reasons.
What is the difference between a hobby and a passion? One definition I have heard is this: “A hobby is something you choose to do when you have a little spare time, but a passion is something that you consider fundamental to your life, something you make the time to be able to do on a regular basis”.
Expanding on this and relating it back to radios and me I have some thoughts this. A lot of people are involved in the radio hobby for several reasons. Some people have this as an extension of their professional work or volunteer work, for others it was a hobby passed on to them from family or friends. The main difference to me between a hobby, passions and interests is both how you feel about and how other people see it.
I first became involved in the radio hobby as a teenager listening to distant radio stations on the AM broadcast band of a night-time, as I grew older, I became involved in electronics at college and this grew to an interest in another radio related area which was radio scanning, this was about 25 years ago. Over the past 25 years while I have mostly been involved in radio scanning, I have a couple of times tried by hand at shortwave and medium wave listening with mixed success. In all these cases this was as an addition to the radio scanning hobby, now I have totally removed myself from the radio scanning hobby and I am concentrating on the broadcast bands, mostly medium wave Ultralight DXing.
The reason I decided to make this change after 20 years is based on a few things:
- The public perception of radio scanning is not as good as shortwave listening or AM BCB DXing, most people know nothing about radio scanning and when you try and explain it to them either they think it should be illegal or they look at you like you are some sort of weirdo. Radio scanning is not really the sort of hobby that you can talk to other people about easily. When I was involved in the radio scanning hobby, I was more interested in the technical / procedure details and less about the content which is different to most people who only care about finding out what was going on.
- The cost of equipment is less, and it is easier to source locally. Whereas a scanner can start at $150 and go up into the thousands, ultralight broadcast band receivers are much cheaper and unless you want to get very serious a basic $60 radio will do 95% of what you need.
- After 20 years the radio scanning hobby has to me lost some of the appeal, you can only hear so many taxi drivers calling for jobs or rubbish trucks talking about bin pickups before you get sick of it. As I work during the day my scanning time is limited to a night-time or of a weekend, while you can sometimes hear interesting things during these times most of the radio traffic, I am interested in happens during the day, while I am at work. As medium wave broadcasting is a 24/7 business at any time of the day or night, I can be comfortable that I will be able to pick up something of interest.
- I have recently become more active in the Ultralight DXing hobby and I am finding this to be a good match for my time, skills, and equipment. What you hear on a scanner can vary a lot based on your location; even 25km can make a huge difference. With the Ultralight DXing hobby you can hear something of interest no matter where you are. This is becoming a passion of mine.
Going back to my original question of the difference between a hobby, passion, and interest I have some thoughts, I will use fishing as an example, but this can be related back to almost anything.
If you go fishing a couple of times a year when you go away for a holiday, then this is an interest.
If you go fishing a couple of times a month and maybe read a magazine or two this is a hobby.
If you go fishing as often as you can, read magazines and books, maybe be a part of a club and plan things around fishing then this is a passion.
The second part of this is around other people and what they see of you from your interest, hobby, or passion. I work with computers as my job and while I enjoy the work it is not really a passion; it is what pays the bills. Some people I know work with computers but also play games, build websites, and build computers outside work, this then becomes a passion for them. Sometimes when I am talking to people, they are surprised to find I do not have a huge computer at home and that I do not play games much. A lot of people get defined by other people because of their work whereas in a lot of cases that is not all that is important to them. I would much rather talk about radios and radio DXing than computers for example.
Something to always be mindful of is that your interest, hobby, or passion does not become to the determent of your work, family, friends, or relationships. I have on more than one occasion seen how destructive a single focus can be to relationships. Balance is the key; however, you should not let somebody try and change you to suit what they perceive as being right or better.
This leads to an interesting question: “How Much Is Too Much to Spend on Your Hobbies?”
Recently my wife and I have taken on the "minimalism" lifestyle by making the choice to live happily with less.
The UltralightDX hobby is already focused on this, our radios are both small and cheap. As part of my research, I came across this article which I found very interesting, and which made me think: How much is too much to spend on a hobby?
Is this from a financial point of view? What about the value you get from it? Can you put a value on this? What is your time worth? Where does it fit in to your overall life?
To me it is all about value, if I spend $1000 on something and use it every day for three years then it costs me about 91c a day. Spending $100 on something I use only 10 times a year is not good value.
At the end of the day, we all need “something” to make life worth living, for me that is ultralight radio dxing.