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How to cope when your job and hobby overlap

How do you separate your professional and personal life when your hobby and profession merge? Share your opinion in our poll.
Man listening to music while he works

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How do you separate your professional and personal life when your hobby and profession merge?

142 votes tallied
Find a new job
6 votes
Find a new career
2 votes
Find a new hobby
13 votes
I talk to my boss to find a solution for my issues
8 votes
Nothing; I'm happy this way
68 votes
Nothing, and I wish I could find a solution
40 votes
Something else
5 votes

Do you dream of turning your hobby into a profession so that you can earn a living while doing work you enjoy? At first glance, this seems desirable. You work 40 hours a week (sometimes even a little more). Work takes up a large part of your life. It's nice to fill this time with an activity that gives you pleasure, like your favorite hobby. For example, if you enjoy building and maintaining your media server on your home network, you might want to translate that into a career as a sysadmin.

Unfortunately, work is not always fun. While you may quickly forget one or two bad days, more prolonged, fun-free phases can be pretty exhausting, lower your mood, and spoil the joy of practicing your hobby because it's also your job.

If you turn your hobby into a profession, the line between work and personal time quickly gets blurred. There is the danger of taking work with you into your relaxing time or not being able to switch off and really clear your mind because you can't direct your thoughts to anything else. Instead, you continue to be on the job at home (possibly unconsciously) trying to find a solution to a workplace problem. This is a problem for many reasons, including that you don't get paid extra for this work at home, and you might become sick or experience burnout if you can't switch off and get some rest.

What do you do when it's too late and you've practiced your hobby as a profession for years? I can think of three possible solutions:

  1. Change your employer
  2. Change your profession
  3. Change your hobby

You can consider the first point, depending on the job market. But you shouldn't be too quick to throw in the towel because the grass usually looks greener on the other side of the fence. Once you have crossed it and realize that weeds also grow there, it's too late.

Whether you decide to pursue the second or third points may depend on how important your job and your hobby are to you.

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In my opinion, you would be well advised to find a new hobby. This way, you can draw strength to better master professional challenges and have something enjoyable that takes you away from work. If things are going well at work and you're enjoying your job again, then you can deal with similar topics in your spare time without falling back into old habits.

My fallback hobby is reading. I can immerse myself in another world and relax with a good book.

How do you cope? Have you had similar experiences? If so, how do you deal with it? How do you separate your professional and personal life when your hobby and profession merge? Share your opinion in the poll at the top of the page.

Photo of a lit match on fire
Burnout can be a huge problem in high-intensity careers like system administration. Here's how to recognize when it's happening to you and others, along with what to do in order to recover and avoid the problem in the future.
Topics:   Career   Poll  
Author’s photo

Jörg Kastning

Jörg has been a Sysadmin for over ten years now. His fields of operation include Virtualization (VMware), Linux System Administration and Automation (RHEL), Firewalling (Forcepoint), and Loadbalancing (F5). More about me

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