Transforming a Hobby into a Purpose


When I first started designing patterns for Aroha Knits, I was doing so as a hobby. I would come home from my part-time job at the French bakery, and shut myself in my room and spend hours working up my latest cabled hat pattern.

When I moved to Japan, and Aroha Knits became a full-time business, I renamed my drive as a passion. I had to be passionate about what I was doing if I was going to deep dive into figuring out how to make a living from my work.

Now after much reflection and with the creation of the Fibre Muse Framework [LINK], I think of Aroha Knits as reflecting my purpose: knitting is a way for me to reconnect and learn about my cultural heritage, and contribute to the broader cultural movement of the Maori renaissance of art and crafts. As you can see, this is a very Seeker-esque type of statement. In my previous post [LINK], you can read about how these beginnings of Aroha Knits was an example of the Fibre Muse Framework, which I developed later down the line, in action.

What is a hobby?

Before we move onto answering the question on how we can turn a hobby into a purpose, we first need to dive into what these words mean.

The dictionary definition of a hobby is: an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure.

The primary goal of a hobby is solely for pleasure. Based on this definition, it seems to imply that a hobby doesn’t involve much growth or challenge. It’s easy, breezy and doesn’t take much thought.

How does a hobby upgrade to a passion then?

What is a passion?

I’ve been reading the book “Grit: Why Passion and Resilience are the Secrets to Success” by Angela Duckworth (in fact, this book is what sparked this blog post). I like how she defines a passion:

“Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.”

The first part, “a little bit of discovery” is what I would identify as the hobby. Once you start developing and deepening your hobby, then it upgrades to a passion. That’s because developing and deepening your hobby is challenging and requires some level of push. A hill to climb. A roadblock to overcome. It takes a lot of love for one’s hobby to grow. That’s why we call it growing pains. But the rewards to such are so very satisfying.

What is a purpose?

And lastly, we come to a purpose. Once again, I’m going to reference “Grit.” Angela Duckworth, the author, defines purpose as “the intention to contribute to the well-being of others.”

So how do we go from a hobby that is done in “one's leisure time for pleasure” to making the world a better place?

Transforming a hobby to a purpose

Thankfully the answer to this isn’t as intense or challenge as one might think. Angela Duckworth gives three recommendations on how to cultivate a sense of purpose. Her book is about jobs and careers, so I will be changing it up a bit to fit our context of knitting better.

Think how in small but meaningful ways, you can tweak your current passion for enhancing its connection to your core values

(For discovering your core values, read this blog post: Expressing Our Values Through Knitting). Doing so makes us more aware, engaged and mindful of how we craft, instead of doing it mindlessly for ourselves and begins the process of our “lifetime of deepening.”

Example: for a Seeker Fibre Muse with a core value as sustainability, you can be more mindful about the yarns you purchase. You can make sure to buy from brands that are transparent and practice sustainability themselves and don’t harm the environment.

Find inspiration in a role model.

This role model doesn’t have to be someone in the Fibre community. In fact, I recommend looking outside our tight-knit (ahem) circle to look for someone living out their purpose through their passion. Thinking outside the box is always an excellent way to come up with new ideas and think creatively.

Reflect on how the work you’re already doing can make a positive contribution to society.

With this mindset shift, you can already start reframing your passion as contributing to the betterment of everyone, even if you’re a self-based Fibre Muse (you knit for yourself).

Example: for a Mystic Fibre Muse with a core value of inner harmony, you practice knitting to bring peace and balance to yourself.  Knitting allows you the stability and comfort you need when you are working other jobs that require you to serve others.

Turning a hobby or passion into a purpose doesn’t have to be difficult, take a lot of time or even be huge or life-changing. Yes, a purpose is a lifelong deepening of our passion, but we don’t have to be at a certain level of our craft to discover our purpose. We can start today - all it takes is the way we view and engage with our art, and then act on it. To get started, I would love for you to write in the comments your reflections on how your knitting is already making a positive contribution to society, directly or indirectly. There are no right or wrong answers!