We often think about how different our work is than our free-time hobbies—but have you ever noticed how they can be so similar? Sure, having an interest in hiking, knitting, and photography doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to working in analytics, producing marketing content, or renovating homes, (yes, young people knit) but that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of overlap. When thinking deeper, I realized how comparable hobbies and professions really can be. Here’s my story of how hobbies, like snowboarding, can motivate you to move forward in your career.
1. Your knees will be purple during your first season
Ah, I remember the first season I got to call myself a ‘snowboarder.’ It was beyond exciting and I was eager to become better with every single run. But you know what happened first? I fell every single time getting off the ski lift … to the point my friends didn’t want to ride with me because I would cling to them for balance. I fell so many times that my knees and tailbone changed colors for weeks. I’m also pretty sure my body took the shape of a scorpion each time I came down the mountain—how it happened, I have no idea.
But those events also sound a lot like me trying to develop my marketing automation skills. The first day (or even first few months) in my new role as an automated marketing specialist, I was unsettled. You can visualize all the cool future tricks that are possible, but you’ve merely logged in and crazy clicked on every tab within the new platform you’re supposed to manage. And yet somehow, your curiosity clicking turns into building processes which turns into hitting the big send button to thousands of people. Just because you don’t know how to do something, does not mean you can’t learn! That is a beautiful thing when it comes to learning a new skill—career changes included. With every run you stumble just a little bit less, your actions become streamlined, and you start to enjoy the ride.
And just like that, you can get off the ski lift by yourself.
2. Practice makes
Just because you get off the ski lift without taking a tumble doesn’t mean you’re going to the X-games next year, but it still feels great! We can’t forget to celebrate the little wins within our professional and personal lives—but those wins grab our attention and push us to do even more.
So you can get off the lift, what’s next? If you snowboard, it’s getting used to trusting yourself by using both your heel-side and toe-side edge to navigate down the mountain the way you intend (bombing the mountain does not count here, sorry!). The more you trust yourself, the more carving back and forth becomes natural. Then you do it again, and again, and again until you gain confidence in your skill. You soon realize you’re down the mountain without snow being jammed into your sleeves and collar from extra falls.
Trusting yourself can be hard—especially if it’s a new role or a new company (or both!), but thinking outside the norm is so important! My dad once told me that the only way you’ll stop sitting at the kids’ table is if you simply pull up a chair at the adult table. It applies to so many areas in the workplace as well. Have a great idea, process improvement, or dream? Speak up!
Prior to starting my marketing automation position at InfoTrust, I wrote communications for an optical brand. For a brief moment, I felt like I was the last person who should have big ideas and opinions because I was the new kid on the block; but then I pinched myself and remembered “Hello? This is why you were hired here!” Practice trusting yourself. Bring your ideas to life by choosing a seat at the table, bouncing ideas off your fellow team members, and doing the grunt work to make them official. Just because processes have always been one way, doesn’t mean that they don’t need innovating. Pull that chair up, shake off the nervous voice, and get ready to put your name on an awesome idea.
Your one trip or type-o will never outweigh the growth of sending it down the mountain.
3. From bunny hills to high altitude
The top-of-the-mountain views are a lot better when you’ve worked for them, right? Those nights you spent fixated on learning how to play a new song, watching YouTube videos on how to complete your biggest DIY project, or training for a new personal record—those accomplishments always feel the best. You put in the hours and you got the results.
This season, I finally hit the milestones I was working toward when snowboarding. I got there by taking chances, falling more times than I can count, getting up even when I was tired, and simply kept going. High altitude doesn’t happen overnight by any means—it’s quite literally taken me years. But every single time I ride, I learn something new and I use that knowledge to perfect my skill. When you have that beautiful run you’ve been working towards, remember the feeling you gained from your accomplishment and let that guide you to become the best version of yourself.
You guessed it—same goes for work! When preparing my first newsletter at InfoTrust I was apprehensive to hit the send button because it was my largest audience to date … even after I checked for type-os 1,497 times. But hitting send was also freeing because what I had created and worked toward came to life. The fears of open rates and clicks subsided and I realized I got this! I can manage this platform, I can create emails that get better each and every time, and most importantly, I can grow my skill set in something I enjoy doing. Something I think about all the time is a small quote that states, “If you aren’t growing, you’re dying.” That couldn’t hold more true for every single one of us because we have to cross the line of our comfort zones to get that perfect run in, on that perfect mountain, on that perfect day.
Yell to the mountains that you’ve got chutzpah!
Sure, you can go down the same hill every single run, you can make the same turns, and you can avoid every small bump possible to get down the mountain without snow in your hat. Or you can improve your agility by going higher or taking the path through the trees. Yes, you may end up with a sore knee here and there—but you could also end up with the best adventure yet!
When you take calculated risks, that’s where growth happens—from snowboarding to writing marketing emails. Next time you take a seat at the table, remember you were hired for a reason, your educated opinions matter (and share them!), and you can achieve goals you set. Every season, you will exceed your expectations—trust yourself.