The Difference Between A Hobby And A Passion


Photo by Felpa_boy (Creative Commons)

It’s easy to get confused when deciding if something is a hobby or a passion.

Fear, doubts, excitement, and distraction take hold in our mind—then get jumbled together.

Make no mistake, this will require some soul searching and it is usually not a quick process with a specific timetable. 

But you can do it!

How? Let’s dig deeper.

A hobby often has the following characteristics:

  1. Something you stop doing altogether. For me, an example of this was collecting baseball cards and sports memorabilia.
  2. It’s easy. It isn’t very challenging or draining. You have no real expectations or goals for this either. There is no way to fail.
  3. Not scary at all. There wasn’t much fear involved, it’s rather just something you do and you don’t have anyone pushing against you.
  4. You keep quiet about it. Sure you might talk about it with others who are into the same hobby, but for the most part, it’s not something that will dominate conversation.

Hobbies are very important. You need hobbies to round out your life and to keep yourself balanced.

But what about a passion?

A passion will often include the following:

  1. It is something you can’t stop doing. You’ve started and stopped, but you come back to it and always start again.
  2. The work is hard but very rewarding. The work probably even scares you and overwhelms you. That’s alright. Those are signs the work is big and you are stretching yourself when you do it.
  3. Keeps you up in the middle of the night. When you can’t sleep, it’s because you are thinking about this or working on it.
  4. You can’t stop talking about it or reading about it. You simply can’t get enough of it. And you’ve been this way for extended period of time.

But what if the line isn’t so clear between the two?

Here is what I’ve learned:

If you start and stop something several times, it is likely a passion.

When you make money doing it, that can distort things as well. How would you feel about the work if you weren’t making a penny doing it?

A hobby can become a passion and vice-versa. Nothing is set in stone. Life is seasonal and don’t be too quick to put a label on something. Set aside time to reflect and to gauge where you are in life.

For example, a few years ago I repaired and sold guitars in my spare time. I was making some money doing it and honestly, that distorted things for me. It was fun, but I knew in my heart that it was not as fulfilling to me as pursuing other writing. The guitar is a hobby for me—it is not a passion. That’s not to say it won’t become my passion a year from now.

If you’re not sure, just take some time to experiment, and don’t even feel the need to put a label on it.  


If you have any questions please feel free to ask me in the comments or fire me an email. Do you know what your passion is? What about your hobbies? If not, what are you experimenting on?

  • Larry Carter

    I took mandolin lessons for a couple of years. It was a hobby. Writing and speaking is a passion. I can’t stop. Don’t want to stop. Want to take it to another level.

    • Jim Woods

      Nice! Mandolin is probably pretty hard to play, I’d imagine.

  • RenaBurgess

    My current hobby is collecting comic books. I enjoy it, but I’m not waiting in line outside the comic book store every Wednesday. My passion is writing…I can’t get away from it, and don’t want to. It’s what gets me up an hour and a half before the kids every day.

    • Jim Woods

      Love it Rena! What comics are your favorite to collect?

      • RenaBurgess

        Batgirl is my favorite. I’ve also been collecting Batman, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, and Star Wars.

        • Jim Woods

          Rena= AWESOME!

  • Jamie Kocur

    A couple years ago, I thought I should pursue photography. I even photographed a couple weddings. But I realized that as much as I love it, it doesn’t compare to the passion I have for music and writing. I hope that later in life, photography may turn into a passion. For now, it is my creative release from my other creative endeavors.

  • Ryan Bonaparte

    I just had a conversation with an old friend about the difference between hobbies and passions. He went as far as to distinguish them as activities and inner desires or beliefs.

    An example would be writing as a hobby and the passion would be sharing information with others. So to him, the activity is guided by the passion. I didn’t fully agree, but I thought it was an interesting way of looking at it and had me reevaluate some of my current passions.

    • Jim Woods

      That’s a very interesting thought Ryan. I looked it up and passion–the definition of the word–is strong and barely controllable emotion. I could see that being tied closely to inner desire/beliefs for sure.

  • Micah

    I played guitar when I was younger, still do now and then but I can go very long stretches (like years) without doing it. Writing, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. I tend not to talk about it much but it remains a non-negotiable activity. I just have to do it. Speaking of writing, this post put me in mind of something Stephen King once said on the same topic

    “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

    Like you say, I guess a passion is something you just can’t help but keep at.

  • Jesse Hoover

    Good post. I feel right there, trying to distinguish what I’m passionate about and what would be considered a hobby of sorts.

  • Heather

    Creative writing is my passion. It’s a love-hate relationship. Some days I hate it, other days I love it, but no matter my mood, I can’t keep my mind away from it for more than a few hours. Hobbies, on the other hand, would be quilting or crocheting, and most things WW1 or WW2 related.

  • David Johnston Art

    Passion: Photography
    Hobby: Taxidermy

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