One of my readers is working on self-exploration and getting to know herself better and wrote to me saying she’s really struggling to identify hobbies and interests. This is very common! Many of us lose track of what we like to do and what our interests are because were busy raising a family, working, or entrenched in our codependency and people-pleasing.

Hobbies are important because theyre a way of expressing who we are. They can also provide fun, self-care, a challenge, a sense of accomplishment in mastering something new, and an opportunity to connect with others.

If youre beginning a process of self-discovery, you can use my 26 Questions to Help You Know Yourself Better to get started. You may also find the following questions/ideas helpful in identifying possible hobbies.

  • What hobbies do your friends and family members enjoy?
  • What hobbies did you enjoy in the past? Sometimes we stop doing things for no particular reason or because we got busy or bored, but wed enjoy returning to these old hobbies. For example, I used to scrapbook regularly but then got out of the habit. Its something Id enjoy picking up again.
  • What were your hobbies as a child? Yes, youve probably outgrown many of your childhood pastimes, but there are some interests that stick with us throughout our lives. Many people continue to enjoy games, sports, and crafts that they began in childhood. Sometimes we need to make modifications like moving from an active participant to a coach or spectator or a modified version of the activity. For example, maybe you hung up your tap shoes long ago, but you still love dancing; perhaps ballroom dancing would be a fun alternative.
  • Whats your budget? Some hobbies get expensive, so its always good to be realistic about what you can afford.
  • What do you value? For example, recognizing that you value helping others, the arts, or animals can help you narrow down your interests.
  • Do you like to be active or do you prefer a sedentary activity?
  • Do you prefer to do things with an organized group or alone? Many solitary activities can also be done with a group or class, if you prefer to be more social.
  • Is there something you always wanted to try?
  • Whats happening in your neighborhood or community? Perhaps theres a hiking trail youve never used or a speakers series starting at the library.
  • What are you good at? What are your strengths? Often, were drawn to things were good at.
  • What are you interested in? Pay attention to the TV shows, podcasts, magazines, and websites you like. For example, if you enjoy reading food blogs, maybe taking a Chinese cooking class or providing meals to a homeless shelter would be fulfilling activities for you.

I surveyed my readers on my Facebook page and asked my friends to help me create the list of hobbies at the end of this article. Of course, we are all different and will like different things, but this list will give you a place to begin. Youll still need to sort through the list and experiment with some different hobbies to find whats right for you.

Trying something new can be hard.

If the thought of trying something new is a bit intimidating youre not alone. Many of us are afraid of embarrassing ourselves or feel socially awkward or shy.

These suggestions may make it easier to try a new hobby:

  • Bring a friend along. Having a friend in tow can increase the enjoyment and it also makes going somewhere new or trying something new less intimidating.
  • Commit to trying a new hobby at least three times. Not all pleasurable hobbies are fun right off the bat. Sometimes theres a learning curve or it just takes time to get used to the activity or environment. Try to give yourself a chance to adjust before deciding an activitys not for you.
  • Remember that you dont have to do it perfectly. Hobbies are supposed to be enjoyable. You dont have to do things expertly in order for them to be worthwhile or fun.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others. It tends to detract from our enjoyment.

Hobbies vary across age groups, geographic regions, socio-economic groups, genders, and of course there are trends among popular hobbies. When I surveyed people about their hobbies, a few things stood out.

Learning new things tended to increase peoples self-esteem and make them feel good about themselves. Many people spoke about the satisfaction they felt in meeting a challenge, accomplishing a goal, or developing physical and mental perseverance. Others valued hobbies that are relaxing and allow them to be more fully themselves.

Based on the list of suggested hobbies, it seems that the hobbies or interests that are especially meaningful or help build self-esteem include:

  • Learning something new
  • Connecting with nature
  • Creating something or expressing yourself creatively
  • Meeting a challenge or accomplishing a goal
  • Activities that help or benefit others
  • Activities that help you uncover your strengths
  • Activities that are relaxing
  • Connecting with others

I loosely organized these hobbies for adults into categories so theyre easier to sort through. But, of course, many fall into multiple categories, so dont worry too much about how I organized them. And as I noted earlier, many of these activities can be done alone or with a friend or in a group. I hope this list of hobbies will give you some ideas; its certainly not a comprehensive list.


  • Scrapbooking
  • Lettering
  • Beading
  • Rug hooking
  • Crocheting, knitting
  • Sewing
  • Quilting
  • Building models
  • Weaving, spinning, dyeing yarn
  • Coloring
  • Zentangle
  • Making holiday wreaths
  • Making things out of recycled/reusable materials
  • Making cards
  • Ceramics
  • Candle making
  • Soap making
  • Making herbal salves

Cooking and baking

  • Smoking meat and fish
  • Baking artisan bread
  • Trying every recipe in a cookbook
  • Canning, making jam (especially things grown in my own garden)
  • Barbequing
  • Taking cooking classes


  • Journaling
  • Writing poetry
  • Writing short stories


  • Hiking
  • Nature walks
  • Bird watching
  • Gardening
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Boating
  • Going to the beach
    • Walking on the beach
    • Collecting seashells or sea glass

Physical Activity

  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Running/walking 5K or 10K
  • Zumba
  • Yoga
  • Bowling
  • Badminton
  • Golfing
  • Skiing
  • Rollerblading
  • Lifting weights


  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Video games
  • Board games
    • Chess
    • Scrabble
  • Playing cards
  • Sudoku
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Pokmon Go
  • Legos
  • RC cars
  • Billiards
  • Dungeons and Dragons


  • Listening to music
  • Going to concerts
  • Playing guitar, piano, harmonica
  • Learning a new instrument
  • Singing
    • Singing in the church choir
    • Singing in a barbershop quartet
    • Singing in a community chorus


  • Book club (online or in-person)


  • Painting
  • Photography


  • Stamp collecting
  • Coin collecting
  • Going to yard sales

Pets & Animals

  • Walking my dog
  • Taking my dog to the dog park
  • Horse-back riding
  • Raising Monarch butterflies
  • Helping at a dog rescue (bathing, training, transporting the dogs)
  • Tending an aquarium

Personal Growth

  • Bible study group
  • Support groups
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Learning about energy medicine and spirituality
  • Meditating
  • Reading inspirational blogs
  • Attending talks given by my favorite authors or motivational speakers


  • Fixing things around the house
  • Fixing old computers
  • Woodworking


  • Growing African violets
  • Wine tasting, visiting wineries
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Community theater
  • Car club
  • Brewing beer
  • De-cluttering and organizing
  • Civil war re-enactment
  • Going to museums
  • Traveling
    • Road trips
  • Thrift shop shopping
  • HAM radio
  • Going to the shooting range
  • Going to movies, plays, sporting events
  • Sending homemade greeting cards
  • Volunteering
  • Going out to eat, trying new restaurants
  • Visiting with friends
  • Planning/hosting parties
  • Genealogy

You can download a PDF of this list of hobbies for adults HERE. Theres always room for more ideas, so if you have another hobby to suggest, please share it in the comments. Thanks!

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2018 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of