Why New Year resolutions are ruining your hobby

2018-01-03 Khaiell

Instead of ruining your hobby with feelings of pressure and guilt follow these 7 steps to total hobby enjoyment

Around this time every year a lot of people make New Year resolutions. Unfortunately this usually does not work in any aspects of life and it can be especially detrimental to a hobby.

Let's start with a disclaimer. In my professional life I've been successfully managing internet projects for almost 20 years. You know, like launching platforms used by millions of people. At work I live by the David Allen's book "Getting Things Done" and what's more important I have a reputation for getting things done.

This is not about getting things done at work. It is about maximising the beneficial effects of a hobby: from general fun and pure enjoyment to long term psychological and spiritual benefits.

Hobby is a crucial part of psychological hygiene

And this distinction between work and hobby is absolutely crucial. Crafting hobbies are among the top recommendations for psychological hygiene. They can help in preventing depression, fighting anxieties or sensory issues and many other brain malfunctions. Don't ruin their bountiful gifts by stumping them with feelings of pressure, guilt and this general looming feeling of the need to push yourself harder.

Don't get me wrong. I don't advise sitting all day on a couch and be all talk, no action — on the contrary. This is a crafting hobby and I think of it in terms of artefacts it produces. I just recommend switching how you approach your hobby and being more agile, relaxed and fresh about it.

1. Treat your collection of unpainted models as a backlog.

Don't feel bad about having a large one as in fact the larger the backlog is, the better it is! A huge backlog gives more chance to pick better hobby projects from it. It creates, in a way, a positive hobby Darwinism, where only the projects fittest to your desires get to consume your precious time. I ended with a lot of great projects done specifically because I neglected my plans.

2. Work in sprints.

This is a term from agile project management. Pick some models you can finish in a two week run. You have a good chance of finishing them before you get bored. Still, if you lose heart in the middle of it, throw it back to the backlog. Don't feel bad about it. It is not your work or chore. It is meant to give you the best hobby fun per hour possible! Nevertheless when you think of a two-week run it is often just a gentle touch rather than a push to get it past the finish line. At least in terms of a "minimal viable product" so a tabletop quality you can improve upon in a latter sprint.

3. Divide large projects into chunks you can wholly eat.

This is closely related to the idea of two-week sprints. If a project looks daunting, divide it into smaller parts. What works best is if those parts are what is called a "minimal viable product" so something that is usable after the sprint. For example fully paint a unit of 10 Space Marines rather than basecoating 10 units of them. When you work on a large model, paint it to the tabletop standard in the first sprint, varnish it and then in some future sprints pimp up the model step by step.

4. Cherish what you have achieved, not dwell on what you could have achieved.

The pleasure you get from a a finished project lingers for years after it's done. This significantly rises your total hobby fun per hour score. Don't throw it away and waste time dwelling on rejects. Remember that the unfinished hobby projects are not your failures but rejects you found not worthy pushing forward. The decision to abandon projects might have been done unconsciously and your body gave its assessment in the form of you feeling bored. That is OK. Enjoy the finished projects instead.

5. If you do a project for an event, focus on the fun the event will bring.

This works for tournaments, shows, Fate of Konor type campaigns etc. If the pain of finishing models is greater than the pleasure of the event, your body tells you the event is not worth it. Fortunately usually it is the other way around and you will end up with great projects done, your enthusiasm powered by the prospect of attending an event or campaign.

6. Find some new approach to rekindle the love.

Some project just need time to grow in your mind. So let them grow with you! Come back to them after a year looking through the lens of new experiences, ideas and game rules. Maybe you will discover that now you want to add a silly hat to a model or you have an idea for a rad freehand banner and this changes your attitude toward the project entirely!

7. Backlog is meant never to be empty.

Actually an empty backlog is a bad backlog. Many people make New Year resolutions to get everything painted. You will not and you must not have everything painted. This will ruin you backlog and the freedom of choice it gives you.

Accepting this is very liberating. You should try it!

See the pictures as separate pages: The 7 habits of successful hobby project management

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