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Tired of putting hobbies on hold? Start today

Thu Apr 12 06:00:00 EDT 2018

From swimming with sharks to visiting landmarks, we’ve all got something we’ve always wanted to try, but never found the time to make it happen. For example, one in five people would love to capitalise on a passion for pronunciation and learn a new language.

What is certainly true is that more people want that little bit more out of life. Recent Barclaycard data sheds more light on the growth of the ‘experience economy’. In February, the amount that UK consumers were spending on entertainment grew by an impressive 8.6%, compared to the same month the previous year. This was driven in large part by the release of the hit film Black Panther and the much-anticipated second release of Hamilton tickets. In short, the amount we’re spending on things we like doing is growing much quicker than the amount we spend on having things like household goods or clothes. And it seems that change in consumer behaviour could be making people happier. Those who spend 5 – 10 hours per week on a hobby have made on average 17 new friends through their activity.

Hop to it

We also know about the specific benefits of starting something new. For example, you can burn around 400 calories an hour if you decide to take up dancing. Recent research also found that dancing is not just good for your heart, but your head as well. Stamping your feet and shaking your hips can actually help keep your mind sharp, and this makes taking up dancing a no brainer… step forward Vivek Untawale who is a PMO Analyst from Pune, India. He’s going to test his devotion to dancing by taking up salsa lessons.

Vivek has a long-standing passion for performing arts, so salsa seemed like a natural next step. Vivek explains: ‘I’m an art lover and while I can sing well, I’ve always rued the fact that I can’t dance very well. Salsa is one of the few energy-driven dance forms and since seeing it on TV as a child, I’ve admired its grace and poise and have wanted to learn how to dance in this style.’

Making the most of today

To be fair, Vivek has had a pretty good reason for putting his passion on the back burner: ‘Family commitments have taken priority over the last few years, so I’ve sacrificed extracurricular aspirations. Now that my kids have grown up, I have some spare time to look back to my wish list and start something new.’

It will probably be a slow start, but the long term effects are obvious: ‘Salsa requires a lot of stamina, so it’ll definitely make me healthier, and it’s a social activity so it will broaden my art-loving circle. One day, I’d love to be able to teach others the salsa moves that I’ve learnt. Most importantly, getting to do what I’ve longed for will make me happier and more confident.’

Getting creative

We recently highlighted a raft of younger people who are making the most of their talents and monetising their hobbies. From art and design to photography, people aren’t just taking part in pastimes, they’re turning them into small businesses. But getting creative doesn’t mean heading up a burgeoning business empire… step forward Akua Hutchful who is a Small Business Credit Cards lead in Delaware, USA who is going to Start today, by learning to sew and make clothes.

It is a dream that Ukua has had for some time, but it took someone rather special to revive her passion: ‘One of my earliest childhood dreams was to be a fashion designer. Years later, that dream resurfaced thanks to my five-year-old daughter who’s already really into clothes. She’s constantly asking me to mend or alter her dresses.’

Rapid progress

As soon as Ukua got underway, it didn’t take her long until she started seeing results: ‘I always planned to learn to sew but never got around to enrolling in a class or learning until recently. An acquaintance noticed that I was talking a lot about learning to sew, so they put me in touch with a dressmaker who gives lessons. I made a skirt in my second class and have been hooked ever since.’

Have faith

Now Akua’s started, it’s not just her early success that’s helped things along, but the unerring, enduring belief that her children have in her: ‘I’m passionate about learning how to design and sew clothes so as not to disappoint my kids, who have a sweet but baseless belief in my dressmaking skills. It’s been extremely gratifying to see their excitement grow as I progress. I look forward to this being something for my daughter and I to work on together and really bond over.

‘I am now going to set up a sewing room at home to get some extra practice in away from class. One day I’d love to be good enough to design clothing for women and girls.’

Akua and Vivek aren’t the only people getting involved. Blogger, author and mum Giovanna Fletcher joined the Barclaycard 31 Day Challenge, where she started something new every single day. From learning the violin to cycling in the velodrome and even learning how to “upcycle”, check out how she got on here.