Jeremy Côté

Not Everything Has To Be A Business

When we find a hobby or a craft that energizes us, why is our first instinct to figure out a way to turn it into a money-generating activity?

Why can’t we simply enjoy the activity itself?

Think about how crazy this is. We decide to couple our enjoyment of an activity with the volatility of income.

Furthermore, it feels like our culture has suddenly shifted to thinking about all hobbies like this. It is not enough to do an activity because you get pleasure from it. Now, you need to enjoy it and have a plan for establishing a following, a brand, and eventually, a way to generate an income.

Just writing that gets me tired.

I get the motivation. We all want to find work which strikes the right balance of joy and satisfactory income. That is a noble pursuit, but it also means we sometimes lose sight of the other parts of life.

Making a living is important. I am not arguing with that. However, we do not need to turn everything into an economic opportunity.

This is why I have tried to veer so much against the pressure of making money with my pursuits. Sure, it would be fun to generate a little bit of extra income, but at what cost? Do I really want to feel like this work I do is something that needs to be done in order to make my living?

For myself, the answer is no.

I am in the fortunate position to have free time, which means I can practice activities because I enjoy them. I am not making an active effort to “align” them in the direction of income. I want to keep my enjoyment of these activities as far away from money as possible, at least for now.

I am reminded of something Austin Kleon said in an interview (unfortunately, I cannot remember the exact one). Paraphrasing, he said, “When did our passions all turn into side hustles?” He was pushing back against the idea of trying to make a living with each thing you do, and I think he was on to something.

It is great to be paid for the work you do. However, I think we sometimes forget that it is not as simple as charging people for your work. As soon as you go from free to paid, there is a shift in the work you do. There is an implicit shift in incentives. Instead of feeling like you get to do this work, it can quickly morph into you having to do the work.

I am not saying that charging for your work is bad. Rather, I am saying that we can simply have activities that we do for the pure enjoyment of them, without any other motive.

“I enjoy this” is a perfectly valid reason for you do a hobby.