There are hundreds if not thousands of hobbies in the world (see my Ultimate List of 1,000+ Hobbies). This creates a dilemma. If you have too few hobbies, you could be missing out on a lot of cool hobbies and the benefits they bring. On the other hand, if you have too many, you risk being burnt out or getting broke.
So, what is the appropriate number of hobbies to have?
In my opinion, you should have 2-5 core hobbies that you are super passionate about and a group of others that rotate in and out of your life.
Ideally, you want to have 5 types of hobbies that target the 5 major needs in your life.
- A fun or relaxing hobby. Examples: Gaming, Yoga, Listening to Music, Watching Movies, Bird Watching, and Reading.
- A career/ money-making hobby. Examples: Blogging, YouTube, Coding, Home Decoration, Graphic Design, and DIY.
- A health or fitness hobby. Examples: Running, Weight-training, Zumba, Calisthenics, and Aerobics.
- A social hobby. Examples: Dancing, Board/Card Games, Bowling, Special Interest Clubs, and Going Out.
- A creative hobby. Examples: Painting, Drawing, Crafting, Writing, Making Music, and Acting.
If having five hobbies seems overwhelming, you can have one or two hobbies that target multiple needs. For example, a birdwatching hobby can help you meet all the 5 needs above and more (see Is Birdwatching the Ultimate Hobby?).
There are many more types of hobbies you can start to fulfill your needs and goals. For more check out my article on the 20 Types of Hobbies Everyone Should Have.
For me, I have 10 core hobbies (Blogging, Walking, Cooking, Birding, Swimming, Yoga, Meditation, Photography, Graphic Design, and Watching Movies or Documentaries) that I engage in regularly and about 10+ other hobbies that are seasonal or rotate in and out of my life (see the FAQs).
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To you, this may seem excessive. The weird thing is, for a long time, I had two hobbies in total (watching movies and reading novels). And I was okay with it. However, at some point, I began to feel like I was missing out on a lot of things. I decided to start exploring other activities, and to my surprise, I grew to enjoy quite a number of hobbies.
But I had challenges in trying to acquire new hobbies. I discovered that certain factors (such as my health, finances, and personality) dictated how many hobbies I could have at one time.
These factors are unique to everyone and this makes it hard to recommend exactly how many hobbies you should have.
In this article, therefore, I will give you 12 questions that you can ask yourself to help you decide whether you need to increase your hobbies or cut some of them off.These are based on my experiences in trying to start new hobbies.
Also, don’t forget to check out the FAQ section where I discuss some common questions people ask about hobbies (like the dangers of having too many hobbies).
Here are the top questions you should ask yourself when deciding how many hobbies you should have.
1. Do You Enjoy Your Hobbies?
This seems like a no-brainer, but surprisingly, many people have hobbies that they don’t enjoy. There are several reasons for this:
- Peer pressure. You may get into a hobby to please your parents or impress your friends. For example, you may force yourself to work on cars simply because your dad loves it.
- You are no longer interested. You can fall out of love with hobbies for a variety of reasons and this is normal. But you may decide to stick to a hobby because of guilt or a feeling that you have already invested a lot into the hobby (a sunk cost fallacy).
- Wanting to fit in. You don’t want to seem like a weirdo because you don’t have any hobbies. You pretend to be interested in some activities just for show.
If you don’t enjoy your hobbies, even a few hobbies will seem like a chore (see Why You Have No Hobbies). On the other hand, if you enjoy your hobbies, you can have multiple hobbies and still feel energized.
What to do if you don’t enjoy your hobbies
If you don’t enjoy your hobbies or have to force yourself to engage in a hobby, here are some things you can do.
- Replace hobbies you don’t enjoy: Cut off hobbies you don’t like and bring in those that will bring you joy. If you are strategic in searching for new hobbies, you will find them (see How to Find Hobbies You Will Love).
- Let go of the desire to please or impress others. Don’t let others live your life through you. You only have one life to live so you need to spend it on things that give you joy. If you don’t do that, you may end up being resentful toward those you want to impress.
- Beware of the sunk cost fallacy. Treat today as the first day of the rest of your life. You don’t have to let the past dictate the future. If there are some things that you have outgrown, don’t feel guilty about letting them go.
2. Are There Particular Needs You Want to Meet in Your Life?
Hobbies can help you meet particular needs in your life; for example, you may want to:
- Relax or have fun after a week of hard work.
- Lose stubborn weight so you can have the body you have always wanted.
- Bring some adventure and variety into your boring life.
- Make friends with people who understand you.
The more needs you have, the more hobbies you may need, and vice versa.
If your hobbies don’t help you meet your needs or desires, you may find it hard to motivate yourself to stick to them. The trick to having multiple hobbies is to align them with our needs.
How to align your hobbies with your needs
Here are things you can do to ensure that the hobbies you choose to engage in meet your needs.
- Do an audit of your hobbies. Examine how each hobby you have contributes to making your life better. Try and remember why you started your hobbies. Based on your audit, you can remove low-value hobbies and replace them with hobbies that can better your life.
- Identify your unmet needs and look for a hobby to meet them. You have to be clear about what you crave in your life. For example, if your job does not pay you well, you could look for a hobby that can help you to earn money as a side hustle. If you are lonely, add a hobby that will make you meet people.
- Look for hobbies that can meet multiple needs. To reduce the number of hobbies you need, you can look at hobbies that meet several needs at once (such as financial, health, or social). Bird watching is a great example of such a hobby (see Is Bird Watching the Ultimate Hobby?).
Further reading: For more ideas on how you can align your hobbies to your needs, check out my article on the Types of Hobbies Everyone Needs.
3. Are Your Hobbies Detracting You from Important Priorities?
Hobbies require a lot of time, money, and effort. Therefore, there is an opportunity cost to engaging in hobbies because you have to move resources from other activities.
Here are examples of how hobbies can detract you from important priorities.
- You regularly skip class so that you can spend the entire day gaming.
- Your family rarely sees you because you are busy socializing with your friends.
- You get into credit card debt so you can spend on your hobbies.
What to do if hobbies are detracting you from important priorities
Here are some simple strategies you can use.
- Cut back on resource-intense hobbies. Some hobbies can take too much of your time, money, and mental energy so that you have nothing reserved for important things in your life. Identify these hobbies so that you can cut them off or scale them back.
- Align your hobbies with your priorities. Some hobbies can actually help you to meet your goals and priorities (see Productive Hobbies). For example, if getting a secure, well-paying job is your main priority, you can take up career-friendly hobbies that give you skills that are in high demand in the job market.
- Reduce time spent on unproductive hobbies. Hobbies that involve passive consumption (such as watching TV, gaming, or social media) can be notorious time wasters. You need to set a limit to how much time you spend on them so that you can free up time for other activities like learning new skills.
4. Do You Feel Stressed or Overwhelmed?
You can have as many hobbies as you want so long as you don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed. Hobbies are supposed to refresh you and make your life easier or more enjoyable.
When you start getting stressed or anxious because of your hobby, it defeats the purpose of having a hobby.
Here are ways that hobbies can stress you.
- Having too many hobbies. If you are always running from one hobby to the next, you may start to feel frazzled.
- Having demanding hobbies. Some hobbies, especially skill-based hobbies like coding or learning the piano can drain you mentally.
- Perfectionism. Frequently worrying about whether you are good enough at your hobby can lead to anxiety.
What to do if you feel stressed or overwhelmed because of your hobbies
Here are some strategies to use if you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
- Prioritize quality over quantity. It is better to have a few hobbies that you enjoy than many that you don’t care about. With fewer hobbies, you can go deep into the hobbies and unlock their benefits.
- Hit pause on the most stressful hobbies. Identify and pause hobbies that hog most of your time and energy. Pausing them allows you to reflect on their role in your life.
- Adopt a growth mindset. You can beat perfectionism by adopting a growth mindset where you adopt the attitude that you will get better with practice. Also, you need to separate your identity from your performance. The fact that you are struggling to be good at your hobby doesn’t mean you are a failure.
5. How Much Money Do You Have Available for Your Hobbies?
Let’s face it, hobbies can be expensive. Even for seemingly affordable hobbies, expenses can pile up because you may need to:
- Buy equipment and supplies.
- Find a place to store your hobby materials.
- Travel to particular places to engage in your hobby (for example, a national park).
- Take classes to improve your skills.
A 2021 survey by Lending Tree found that 53% of Americans got into debt to start hobbies during the pandemic, with roughly a quarter of them accumulating over $1,000 in debt.
These statistics show that if you are not careful, hobbies can lead you into financial distress.
What to do if you don’t have enough money for your hobbies
If you don’t have enough money, it would be unwise to take up too many hobbies, especially if those hobbies are expensive. You need to have enough financial resources to support your hobby long-term.
Here are some strategies you can use to get money for your hobby.
- Track your hobby costs. You need to know how much money you spend on your hobbies. If you are unaware of your expenses, you could end up spending too much.
- Make money from your hobbies. There are many ways you can earn an income from your hobby, for example, by offering services, selling products online, and teaching others about your hobby.
- Implement cost-cutting strategies. You can cut costs by buying used equipment, borrowing equipment, or reducing the amount of traveling you do for your hobby.
- Substitute high-cost hobbies. You can replace expensive hobbies with less expensive ones. For example, you can replace marble sculpting with clay sculpting.
6. How Much Time Do You Have Available for Your Hobbies?
How much time you have available for hobbies can limit the number of hobbies you can have. If you are juggling a career with being a parent or a student, you won’t have much time left over for hobbies.
You will often find that people who have ample time for hobbies tend to:
- Live alone and have no responsibilities apart from taking care of themselves.
- Have jobs that pay a decent salary with enough time off.
- Come from wealthy families, so they can afford to take extended time off work to focus on themselves.
So, if you have limited time for hobbies, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Having said that, you can still find time for hobbies even with a busy schedule. You only need to have the right strategies.
How to find time for your hobbies
Here are some tricks you can use to find time for your hobbies.
- Multitasking. You can create time for hobbies by combining your hobby with other tasks. For example, you can listen to audiobooks during your commute or when you do your chores at home. You can get a variety of high-quality and affordable audiobooks at Audible.
- Find complementary hobbies. You should find hobbies that go well with each other. For example, if you get into a hobby like bird watching, you can easily incorporate hobbies like hiking, photography, orienteering, 4X4 driving, and camping (see Is Birding The Ultimate Hobby?)
- Incorporating a mix of hobbies. You can combine low-effort hobbies (such as watching movies) with demanding hobbies (like coding or learning languages). If all your hobbies require a high level of commitment, you can easily get burnt out.
Further reading: To get more strategies for finding time to pursue multiple hobbies, see my article on How to Make Time for Your Hobbies.
7. What Kind of Personality Do You Have?
Your personality is crucial in determining how many hobbies you can handle. For example, if you are the kind of person who enjoys going deep into topics, then you can only engage in a few hobbies.
To get a basic understanding of your personality type, start by asking simple questions like:
- Are you a specialist, or are you a generalist?
- Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
- Do you like adventure, or are you a homebody?
- Are you organized, or do you go with the flow?
Understanding your personality will remove the guilt that you may feel for having too many or too few hobbies. Different personalities have different preferences, and that is okay.
Also, when you choose your hobbies according to your personality, you naturally gravitate towards your optimum number of hobbies.
How to choose the best hobbies for your personality
Here are some strategies you can use to choose hobbies that suit your personality.
- Do a personality assessment. There are several personality tests that you can take online (such as Myers-Briggs, Big 5, or Enneagram). Personality tests can be surprisingly accurate, especially if you understand their underlying psychology.
- Explore hobbies that match your personality. Once you have your assessment results, you can investigate hobbies that match your personality. Many of these tests also advise you on the types of hobbies or careers that suit your personality.
- Study people that have your personality type. You can observe people with personality types similar to yours to see how many hobbies they have, what kind of activities they enjoy, and how they go about their hobbies.
8. Are You Going Through A Transition In Your Life?
When you go through transitions in your life, you should expect significant changes in your life, and this will have an impact on the number of hobbies you can have.
Transitions present opportunities for taking up new hobbies, cutting off some hobbies, or changing the types of hobbies you have.
Examples of these transitions in your life are:
- You have graduated from school and have gotten your first job.
- You retire from your job and now have free time for hobbies.
- You lose your job, and you don’t have the resources to maintain many hobbies.
- You are a new parent, and you don’t have the time or energy for many of the hobbies you had.
What to do if you are going through transitions in your life
Here is how you can deal with transitions in your life.
- Accept new realities. You may have to give up some hobbies and interests due to changes in your life. For example, if you become a parent, you may have to let go of your dangerous hobbies because if you are injured or you die, your kids will suffer.
- Take advantage of the transitions. Transitions can be a wonderful opportunity to craft a new direction in your life, and hobbies can help facilitate that. For example, if you are recently retired, you can learn a new language and live in a different country.
- Tailor your hobbies to your new circumstances. Hobbies can help you as you transition into a new phase in your life. For example, if you have lost your job, you can choose hobbies that can help you make an income or learn skills that can give you an advantage in the job market (see Hobbies for Resume).
9. What Is Your Physical State?
Your physical state can limit how many hobbies you can engage in. Many hobbies require some degree of physicality, and if you have a disability or an ailment (such as back pain), many hobbies can be off-limits.
Also, many recreational centers are not friendly to people living with disabilities.
But this does not mean that you cannot enjoy a variety of fulfilling hobbies even with the limitations you face.
What to do if you are dealing with physical challenges
Here are strategies you can use if you are dealing with physical challenges.
- Change your hobbies. You may need to give up some hobbies entirely. For example, if you have severe back pain, you may need to give up weight lifting unless under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
- Turn lemons into lemonade. You can pick up hobbies that can help you solve your physical problems. For example, if you have a variety of ailments because you are overweight, you can pick up an active hobby like running or walking to help you lose weight.
- Tailor your hobbies to your physical limitations. There are ways you can still engage in a hobby you enjoy if you make some adjustments. For example, if you love writing but you suddenly get visually impaired, you can use speech-to-text software to do your writing.
For inspiration, see how Jon Morrow made millions from blogging despite being paralyzed from the neck down.
10. What Is Your Mental State?
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t bring yourself to be interested in activities or hobbies. Or you might find that your interests are limited.
If this is you, you might want to investigate what is happening internally. Mental issues can impact the number of interests or hobbies you have. Some of these include:
- Phobias and anxieties. If you suffer from social anxiety, you may eliminate all hobbies that involve social contact.
- Going through grief. Some events such as the loss of a loved one or a breakup can lead to loss of interest in activities.
- Self-esteem issues. How you perceive yourself can affect the kind of hobbies that you decide to go for.
How to deal with hobbies when struggling with mental issues
Here are things you can do to keep engaging in hobbies even when dealing with mental issues.
- Take time off to work on yourself. You may need to take a break from hobbies so that you can work on yourself. This may involve doing some shadow work or even seeking help from a therapist.
- Take up hobbies that can help. Some hobbies can help with mental health issues, for example, journaling, meditation, and yoga. Experiment with these hobbies and see how you feel.
- Cut off hobbies that make things worse. Some of your hobbies may contribute to your mental health issues (see Disadvantages of Hobbies). Examine your hobbies and eliminate those that add stress and anxiety to your life.
11. Are Your Hobbies Impacting Your Life Negatively?
Some hobbies hog all your time, money, and mental energy so you find it difficult to add other hobbies. In other cases, hobbies may negatively affect your physical and mental health (see my article on the Disadvantages of Hobbies).
Here are some common ways hobbies can impact you negatively.
- You get into addictions. For example, you spend hours playing video games and have no time for anything else.
- Your hobbies make you broke. For example, if you get into expensive hobbies that drain your money, you will have little left over for other potential interests.
- Your health gets worse. For example, if you have a hobby that involves too much sitting (such as coding), you may gain too much weight or start having back pain. These will make it difficult for you to pick up hobbies that involve lots of movement (such as sports).
What to do if hobbies are impacting your life negatively
If you suspect your hobbies are negatively affecting your life, you should.
- Assess the impact of hobbies in your life. Make a list of the negative effects your hobbies have in your life (see Disadvantages of Hobbies). Are there activities you would like to pick up but cannot because of these negative effects? Make a list of these activities.
- Replace negative hobbies. If a hobby impacts your life negatively, consider replacing it or reducing the amount of time you spend on it. For example, if you spend 15 hours a day coding and it’s hurting your back, you can reduce it to 8 hours and start a hobby that will keep you active (such as walking or dancing).
- Seek help. Consider getting professional help if the negative effects of the hobby are too serious (for example, gaming or gambling addiction). Once you overcome your addiction, you will have the time and mental bandwidth to add new hobbies.
12. Are You Disregarding Some Hobbies?
If you are worried that you have no hobbies (or too few), you should check to see if there are hobbies or interests that you may be disregarding.
Here are some situations where you may not consider an activity to be a hobby.
- You don’t engage in the hobby often. For example, you make wine only two or three times a year.
- You are not good at it. For example, you may enjoy drawing, but hide your drawings because you are afraid people may laugh at you.
- You don’t go deep enough. For example, you have many shallow interests that you dip in and out of.
Disregarding hobbies or interests will limit the number of hobbies you can have. In reality, you could increase your hobbies or interests by tweaking a few things.
What to do if you think you are disregarding some hobbies
Here are things you can do if you often disregard hobbies.
- Don’t be too strict in what you consider a hobby. If an activity gives you pleasure and enriches your life, then it is a hobby. This may include activities you are not good at or only do occasionally. Or they may be activities you enjoy at work.
- Deepen your knowledge and skills. If you have casual interests or skills that you are fairly good at, try and deepen them into hobbies. You can do this by learning more about them. Often, the more you immerse yourself in something, the more interest you develop and the better you get at it. This is especially true for intensive hobbies like coding or playing the piano.
- Increase the frequency. If there is a hobby that you do two or three times a year, why not increase the frequency to once a month? If you have a hobby you engage in infrequently, list reasons why you don’t do it more often.
Common Questions (FAQs) About the Number of Hobbies
In this section, I want to discuss some common questions regarding how many hobbies you can have.
#1. How many hobbies are there?
It is hard to know exactly how many hobbies there are because everyone has a slightly different interpretation of what a hobby is.
However, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of hobbies. I have been compiling a huge list of hobbies and interests, and I am currently at 1,007 hobbies and interests (see my Ultimate List of Hobbies and Interests).
I’m sure there are more hobbies than these, and I will keep adding to the list whenever I encounter new and unique hobbies.
#2. How many hobbies is normal? The average number of hobbies that people have
There isn’t any number of hobbies that is ‘normal’. The number of hobbies someone can handle without feeling burnt out varies from person to person.
A 2016 survey by Ask Your Target Market found that approximately 20% of people have no hobbies, 24% have one hobby, and 56% have multiple hobbies.
This is only one survey, so don’t read too much into it. However, it will give you a general idea of how many hobbies people have.
#3. Is it good to have multiple hobbies? The benefits of having multiple hobbies
There are definitely some advantages to having multiple hobbies, for example,
- You can meet multiple needs (see Types of Hobbies Everyone Must Have).
- You can build multiple skills and be knowledgeable in diverse fields.
- You can have a variety of interesting experiences.
- You can meet different kinds of people and create a variety of relationships.
If you are interested in diving deep into the benefits of hobbies, check out my article on the Importance of Hobbies.
#4. Is having too many hobbies bad? The disadvantages of multiple hobbies
Having too many hobbies can also come with some disadvantages. In fact, more does not necessarily mean better. For some, focusing on a handful of hobbies may be ideal.
Some of the disadvantages of having multiple hobbies include.
- You can easily get overwhelmed and burnt out.
- You will find it hard to go deep into your hobbies.
- You can easily become a jack of all trades but a master of none.
- You may end up with many unfinished projects, and this will reduce the impact you can have.
- You may spend too much time and money on hobbies and neglect important priorities in your life.
When you have multiple hobbies, you also compound the negative effects of hobbies. See The Disadvantages of Hobbies for more.
#5. How many hobbies is too many?
You can have a surprisingly large number of hobbies if you want to. However, as I have discussed in this article, there are several factors that can dictate how many hobbies you can handle at one time. These factors are unique to you as an individual.
For example, I have 20+ hobbies at any one time in my life with differing levels of commitment.
Here is a sample of some of my hobbies. Blogging/Writing, Coding, Birding, Graphic Design, Web design, Drawing, Walking, Yoga, Mapping, Swimming, Watching Movies/Documentaries, Coin Collecting, Photography, Reading, Teaching, Meditation, Calisthenics, Cooking, Chess, Scrabble, Travel, and Volunteering.
If you are interested in some of the strategies I use to have Multiple hobbies, check out my article on How to Make Time for Hobbies.
#6. What do you call a person with multiple hobbies?
A person with multiple hobbies or interests can be called a multipotentialite, polymath, or renaissance man/woman [source]. Examples of famous multipotentialites include Leonardo da Vinci and Pythagoras.
However, you have to be careful with the definition. If you have a lot of hobbies that you don’t go deep into, you are more of a dabbler or jack-of-all-trades than a multipotentialite. Dabblers may have a variety of hobbies, but they don’t stick with them for long. They often jump from hobby to hobby.
I hope these questions have given you insights into why there is no need to feel guilty or anxious about how many hobbies you have. The number of hobbies you can handle depends on several factors, some of which may be out of your control.
Tweak the number of hobbies you have until you reach a number that is optimum for you. The main thing is to ensure that your hobbies bring value and enjoyment into your life.
If you struggle to find enjoyable hobbies, the following articles will help you.