Why You Should Try New Things

Why you should try new things.
Bill Moseley, Ph.D.

A recent article in Research Digest, titled Spending More Time On Your Hobbies Can Boost Confidence At Work — If They Are Sufficiently Different From Your Job describes a research finding where people who tried hobbies that were qualitatively different than their main jobs experienced a boost in confidence which was also accompanied by increased performance at work. Sounds cool, right?

At first blush, one might assume that the difference was a result of the expansion of skills, the gaining of new abilities. However, if you read the research itself, you will discover that the increase in confidence (self-efficacy) was positively related to one of two conditions: Pursuits that were serious but unrelated to the main job, or not serious and related to the day job. The article doesn’t explain why these conditions both positively affect confidence, while serious and similar pursuits had the opposite effect, but I see something they do have in common.

In both cases, a person might be braver in taking risks with their new pursuit, being willing to risk failure to a higher degree.

If people are willing to risk failure, they try things – they go big, and they might even focus more on the task at hand, without worrying so much what people will think, or how the failure might make them look. The lessons here:

  1. Try something new. Make it different from your norm, but take it seriously. It will be good for you.
  2. Take a moment and reflect on your mindset when you are trying that new thing. How can you capture that, or at least part of it, and bring it back to your main thing? If you can master that, then your main thing can benefit from the same kind of bold action your new hobby did.

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