The Key to a Happy Life (After Graduation and Beyond)

Find 3 Hobbies


I’ve had some realizations about life recently.

First, I am not in this strange in-between period between semesters or even degrees. I have no current plans to return to school. I have my bachelor’s degree, which I am content with for the time being. This is a strange feeling since I have been in school for essentially my entire life. This is a hard concept for twentysomethings to grasp after graduating. I have been out of school for over a year now–But it is now just hitting me that I have the rest of my life to figure out. There was a post-graduation slump that most mid-twentysomethings hit after graduation. I am looking at this year with the point of view that it is spring. I am beginning to blossom, take form, become vibrant in my true colors– so to speak.


Secondly, my peers and I aren’t at the exact same stage in our life anymore. I am generalizing in the sense that during K-12, we were all about in the same place. In our college years, we deviated paths a little more. Now, we are all on our own journeys. For instance, some friends of mine went back to school (or are still finishing their undergraduate degrees). Others got a full-time job in their desired field and love it. A couple friends dropped everything and went to backpack in Europe for some soul-searching– You know who you are! Some people are married with children already with no intention on finding a career. Most people are somewhere between a career they love and just out of college with no idea where they’re going in life. My friends describe their horror dating stories from the previous nights, and somehow I just can’t relate anymore. I am happy in my relationship, and there’s no drama. It’s a refreshing feeling!


In that same vein, I feel like I am in the field that I want to be in and what I studied in college. I have a true passion for parks, recreation, tourism and event planning. I haven’t strayed from this umbrella and still don’t intend to anytime soon. While I definitely would like to advance to a higher position in my career, I understand there needs to be some patience on my part to gain more relevant experience– which is exactly what I am doing! While it’s not 100% perfect, I am content. Again, there’s not an extreme source of stress in that department.

For me, being content is unsettling. Then I started questioning, why am I unhappy with being happy?! It’s just insane! I brought my concerns of my insanity up with Brighton, and he simply said, “you need a hobby!” I agreed with him, but protested that my hiking is a hobby that I love. To which he said, “you need a variety of hobbies.” I believe that part of my issue that I was having is that I didn’t have something to challenge me. I want to continually grow as a person, and challenges force you to grow in different aspects of life.

While crawling the interwebs on Pinterest, I stumbled upon the idea that you need three hobbies: one to make money (for me, a career), one to stay fit (for me, hiking), and one to be creative (which is what I was missing). When I considered this idea, I believe that this is a simplistic and honest way to approach creating happiness in a person’s life. Side note: I definitely believe that people need to play a role in their happiness journey. It is your life, you need to control how you handle situations to be the best version of you.

My three hobbies:

Find one to make money. I define this one as a career. Careers can change at any point in my opinion, but currently I am enjoying working in the recreation/tourism/hospitality/event industry. My position is not set stone, but I am gaining a lot of relevant experience that keeps me content. I’d like to make my way back to events, or try out the tourism side of the industry at some point too. (I think being a tour guide would be fun for a while!) Who knows, anything is possible!


My family and me after my second year as a Race Director for the Paynes Prairie 5K in Gainesville, FL


Find one to stay fit. This is one that changes for me every couple years. Since I was a kid, I have switched my “sport” every few years. I have done soccer, dance, horseback riding, long distance running, triathlons, and currently hiking (in that order). I am really enjoying hiking because it’s combining my favorite things of spending time outdoors, exercise and photography– plus there have been many studies recently on how it improves mood and mental health!


This is me after the Seattle Rock n’ Roll Marathon – June 2010


Hiking in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Find one to be creative. I’ve found this one to be a difficult one for me. My mom would say that I am a great photographer and that’s creative– but that’s my mom, she’s bias! I do enjoy being a photographer and improving my skills. I also enjoy writing. In fact, I have had blogs/websites since I was in 4th grade. Nerd alert! I can blame my dad for that one. 🙂 What I’ve learned recently is that it’s not about the quality of what you are producing, it’s that you’re being creative and channeling that energy into a medium of your choice.


Maxpatch Mountain on the Appalachian Trail

Your job, your relationship, your workout routine, whatever your activity of choice is– all these things cannot be your whole life. It’s about a balance of everything and having outlets for all these aspects of life. So many people have one part of life as their focus and then they wonder why they aren’t happy.

I am working on having a balance of my career, relationships, hobbies, and exercise. In fact, I bought a coloring book as a stress reliever. It’s fun just to color again! I haven’t done this since elementary school. I like this book because I can stay within the lines and create something pretty even if I have no drawing talent whatsoever! I also watercolored with Brighton last night. My goal with that one is to create my own watercolor map of the world, kind of like the one below.

watercolor map example


Just for fun, take a moment and learn about the benefits of this new drug– Nature!

So what are your three hobbies that keep you happy and balanced? Do you have techniques to deal with stress and work-life balance?