I’ll admit – I’ve followed many a “what have you been up to?” with “ugh, working a lot.”
And, while it may be true, there are plenty of more interesting things I could mention. I’ve picked up quite a few new hobbies in the last year, read a bunch of books, and had meaningful things happen. That stock response about work ends most conversations pretty quickly because, really, others don’t want to hear you talk about work that much.
The same goes in business. The best sales meetings I’ve been on are ones where I can connect with people on a personal level. Talking about coverages and commission structures are important, but most of the time it’s your personality that sets you apart from the next gal walking through the door.
Let’s cut to it: these are the reasons you need hobbies outside of Insurance (believe it not, even our famously insurance obsessed Tony has outside interests):
1. It will improve your Business Meetings:
If you have joined a club, read a book, gone on some crazy hike, or have a pet, that gives you an edge on other people. There’s little chance that the people you’re meeting with have done the exact same thing, but the chances are high that you’ll be able to relate it in some way. For example, I like science fiction. If I’m meeting with someone that likes Romance novels, I can at least intelligently ask them about what authors they prefer, ask for their recommendations if I were to try the genre, and vice versa. It’s a common source of enjoyment, and that’s important regardless of specifics.
2. Hobbies Relieve Stress and Provide Balance:
Insurance can be a very stressful profession. There are budgets to hit, typically too much work to be done, and travelling. Whether you want to admit it or not, working over 50 hours a week decreases your productivity significantly. It’s hard to avoid that in certain positions, but it’s something to ask yourself when pulling late night hours. “Am I actually being productive, or would I be better served by going to do something else and returning in the morning?” That’s where hobbies can come in. Taking a break and doing something creative or mentally challenging can get you in a different headspace. When you return you’re more focused and excited about the change in activities.
3. You're Challenged to do Something Vastly Different from the Day to day:
Most insurance jobs will keep us doing similar things – yes, different accounts or situations, but the structure is generally similar. Qualifiers aside, between jobs, Netflix, and going out with friends, there aren’t typically chances to get out of your comfort zone or challenge yourself. That’s where hobbies come in. Doing something creative, like playing an instrument or cooking, gets you to tackle problems differently. It also provides a different area to grow yourself. For instance, I recently picked up boxing which is completely counter to my personality. To illustrate, I quit basketball when I was 11 because when a girl from the other team asked for the ball, I handed it to her happily. That’s my level of aggression, and you can imagine my coordination skills. In any case, when I picked up boxing, it was difficult. I almost quit because I hadn’t gotten myself into a situation where I felt legitimately terrible at something in a long time. But I stuck with it, and now I get to spar and am relatively coordinated. It was so far outside of my norm, but I tackled it and it gives me confidence. That’s what hobbies can do for you. If you feel like you’re failing in your job and that’s all you have, it can be very depressing. But if you have a hobby you can improve every week or day, you have something to remind yourself of when you feel down about your job.
4. You'll Meet People Outside of Your Bubble:
This is important from an insurance standpoint. By joining a club, you can network out of the norm, which can open doors that others won’t have by going to industry events alone. It can also potentially earn you business, depending on which area of insurance you’re in. There’s the added benefit of learning about different walks of life – check out the turn every conversation into an underwriting opportunity.
So go out there and find something to do! Try out different ones before settling, too. Most places will give you a week or month trial, or let you go to a few meetings prior to joining permanently. You’ll improve your work life drastically by challenging yourself outside of it.