Book Review: Harmonizing Hobbies by Robert Wall
Harmonizing Hobbies is exactly what you need when you want to go minimalist, but don’t quite know where a hobby fits in the larger scheme of things. Robert Wall, author of the blog Untitled Minimalism, has written a short but to the point process for defining your hobby, assessing its value, and thinking about it from a minimalist point of view.
One of Robert’s readers pointed out that minimalist bloggers seem to have minimalist hobbies, such as reading and writing; Robert added yoga to the list, and I can add running and meditation. The reader wondered how a hobby such as golf, with equipment and expense, works when you don’t want too much stuff and don’t want unnecessary expenditures, either.
It’s a really good question, one that naturally arises when people do a deep decluttering of things like sports or photography equipment. Once upon a time, I had riding tack for English saddle, the boots and helmet, etc. I loved riding, but the time and the expense kept me from doing it as often as I wanted. Knowing that I was going to have even less time and money in the immediate future, I had to decide if it was indeed a hobby or something that had morphed into a rather large memento. The latter being the case, I sold the stuff. The process I went through is similar to what Robert has laid out in Harmonizing Hobbies, except his method cuts to the chase and spares one a lot of unnecessary angst. I wish I’d had this book back then.
There is a worksheet to print out to get the assessment going; you can use one worksheet for every hobby or potential hobby you wish to consider. It covers areas such as motivation, skill sets, cost, time, space, return on investment, and even poses some sticky wicket questions about the hobby’s place in your social life. Each section of the book fleshes out the questions, providing examples and angles to consider. By the end of the process you should have a good idea if what you have is a viable hobby, a bit of wishful thinking, or a money pit waiting to happen.
If the hobby passes assessment, Robert then presents the minimalist way of looking at it, which is basically a rationale for well-tempered spending and acquisition. This is where he really shines, and can make you think twice about rushing out to buy this, that, and the other thing in pursuit of excellence before you have the mastery to utilize it. It’s an approach that applies to just about any hobby you can think of, making this a really helpful little book!
Harmonizing Hobbies is available as a free download, with a request to consider a donation if you found value in it. I hope you will do so, to encourage the FreeBook model and to support the author’s overall work. If you’re not familiar with Untitled Minimalism, go check it out–it’s gentle minimalism, and Robert has a very engaging style.