This is a guest post from Liz McGowen.
It goes a bit like this: a guru shows you how to start a blog.
This blog is going to lead to untold wealth and soon vacations can become weekly events.
Thank God. At last!
They tell you to go with what you know and like, so by dinnertime on Saturday you’ve decided that your niche will be your passion. Bowling. Watercress. Pole dancing. The perfect brownie
It doesn’t matter. With enough research and enough hope, anything can become a prospective niche.
You are excited. The future is bright and shiny. Aruba, here we come!
Now, flash forward a week.
You have a blog. You have written no less than 20 articles on said topic, and you have set up every social media account known to mankind.
You are now driving down the street in a car emblazoned with your handle – “Watercress Wizard” — on the side.
But deep in your heart something has changed.
The problem is that now, instead of loving watercress, you can’t stand it. You’ve written a whole cookbook on it (yep, that’s your opt-in, baby!), detailed its history, and know all the intimate details about growing and cooking with it to perfection.
You are starting to hate those little green leaves with a passion.
You secretly think you might go screaming from Whole Foods if you even see watercress again. Wouldn’t that be a sight? I can picture a bright green Watercress Wizard wagon (or perhaps a Nova?) zooming out of the Whole Foods parking lot, wheels squealing around the turn…
Oh, sweetie, somebody forgot to tell you one crucial thing: You don’t start a prospective business based on your interest. That’s what a hobby is for, and having hobbies is important.
Now, if this scenario sounds familiar to you and you are a kindred spirit to our friend the Watercress Wizard, I’d bet that hobbies are seriously missing from your life.
It’s likely that you’ve killed them all.
Every. Single. One.
It’s a little like wanting to date your best friend. Either way it goes, you miss out on something special. If you date them, and it does work out, you’re now short a best friend with whom you can dish about the person you’re dating.
On the other hand, if you date them and it doesn’t work out, there goes both the best friend and any hope of romance, so it’s back to square one on both accounts.
If you base a business on short-term interests — which, my friend, you have to write about and focus on every single day for a long, long time before those tickets to Aruba will be in your hand — you’ll suck all the fun out of it in no time flat.
But let’s say you keep your love of watercress as a hobby. This allows you to develop your interest, letting it wax and wane. You can be first in line when the latest copy of “Watercress Today” hits the newsstands. You can eat, talk about, and generally revel in your life-long love ofwatercress forever and ever. You can be excited, with no expectations or pressures, about the next watercress convention. You can implement the latest watercress-oriented technology as you plan your backyard garden. You can treat your friends and family to new watercress-based foods whenever they are lucky enough to be guests in your home.
You can even blog about it, tweet it, and be all over Facebook about it.
As a hobbyist.
If you wish.
And if you don’t wish, it will be okay. The health of your bank account will have little to do with it (assuming the prices of watercress remain stable, you know, and you don’t over-extend yourself in some crazy watercress MLM scheme).
And if you naturally become the Watercress Wizard through your continued pursuit of this hobby and start connecting with tons of people online to share your passion, and if one day (after your kids are safely out of the house so they have no fear of being seen in your presence) you do decide to drive a watercress-themed car, that is fine. If one day your Watercress Wizard Cookbook hits the Amazon Bestseller List, fabulous.
But, maybe by then, your passion may meld into other herbs. Cilantro. Dill. I hear there are several varieties of parsley.
Or, maybe, you’ll discover that you wish to explore long-distance basket weaving. Or, maybe those earlier fascinations with the perfect brownie pan.
There are millions of hobbies.
You need them.
Having hobbies is a sign you have a life. You need to have the freedom of a four-year-old to explore, change, and grow in those outside interests. These bring you new knowledge, new friends, and take you to places you never thought of. They expand your world.
So, please, expand as much as you can. Explore whatever strikes your fancy and develop a life that is passionate in many areas. It will make the sustained focus required to create a successful business that much more possible.
Just beware of dating your hobby.
Liz McGowen is a life balance coach for entrepreneurs. Just for the record, she is kind of lukewarm about watercress.
Image by HealthAliciousNess