"Would being a swordsman make you a pro at dicing tomatoes?”, a thought came to my mind while I was making a salad. As silly as it seemed I felt that I was on to something here.

A lot of us in professional occupations have hobbies or a side hustle outside of office hours. In most cases, we choose something completely different from daily jobs to have a balanced life. People run marathons, play golf, and sign up for pottery classes among other things.

With that approach skills learned outside of office walls are seen as not linked or useful for the job. Contrary to this perception I observed the opposite. I like to compare it to the butterfly effect because of seemingly unrelated events set in motion a cascade of big changes in your career. It also makes it sound very cool – “Skills butterfly effect.”

You must be familiar with a moment in action movies when the main character suddenly discovers that he or she is an expert in martial arts, speaks a few exotic languages, and can drive a car on a suburban road like it’s a formula one race.

Recently I had my own action hero moment though I didn’t end up in a car chase. I was asked to write a document describing a technical process at work. While documentation writing may not be the most exciting topic I found myself enjoying interviewing people involved in the process to have a better understanding and seeing reality from another person's perspective. I completed writing this document much faster comparing to my past results with efficiency in organizing and running meetings. I also made sure that everyone’s voice was heard and details were captured accurately.

After some pondering, I realized that this improvement was hardly a coincidence. Last year I designed training on stress management, a topic that I am passionate about that involved me going through a similar process. I designed a survey to interview a few volunteers who helped me by sharing their experiences. I captured the details of their journeys then wrote about 100 pages of content. Around the same time, I became a regular blog writer and this is something that I really enjoy.

This did not stop there. Organizing and running meetings became a breeze after running workshops at a community center, developing a better understanding and ability to listen attentively came from learning playing drums and languages. After realizing that this is all connected I found other people who experienced this synergy. One of my workmates Ron works as a personal trainer at a gym in his spare time. He uses the same approach to motivate clients in his classes as he does it in the office just without wearing a pair of shorts and dance music.

Unlike with the butterfly effect where the theory suggests there is no possibility of predicting how a small event will affect the future you can use this to your advantage.

Firstly you can complement your career by choosing a hobby or a side hustle that may have a spillover effect in your daily occupation. Writing for a blog is one way but if writing is not your favorite spare time activity there is a lot of other fun things you can do. Kicking the ball in soccer will make you a better team player, learning guitar will help with time management, acquiring another language will increase memory, attention span and problem-solving skills.

Secondly using interests to develop skills may help you to land a job in the first place if you have an education but do not have relevant experience. This is a typical graduate scenario when you have a course completion certificate with the ink still drying up and passion to get your hands dirty but nobody gives you a chance.

My other workmate was a hiring manager for a support team at a large bank. Most of the candidates were fresh out of college without experience in troubleshooting tools specific to the financial sector.

He designed a series of generic questions such as, “you are making a cup of tea for a friend, describe to me how you would go about it step-by-step?” As the candidate was responding the interviewers would throw a couple of curveball questions for instance, “You seem to have only one teabag left, what can you do?” or “what if the kettle doesn’t turn on?” Answers to those questions gave an insight into how potential team members performed under pressure, processed information, and made decisions.

Those skills can be easily developed by picking an interest in your spare time from fencing to tea ceremonies. Lack of confidence and discipline – try martial arts. Want to develop your communication skills – acting classes can help. Looking to develop attention to detail and excellence – calligraphy could be your next hobby. Some career websites will even match your hobby with a potential professional field.

Thirdly this synergy is bi-directional. At some point in my corporate career, I was curious to find how my skills translated to a non-office life. It turned out that I acquired a solid list of valuable tools like being able to translate technical jargon to a non-specialist language, problem-solving, planning.

Your negotiation skills will save you money when shopping for a new car, decision making becomes useful when planning to go on holidays, ability to translate complex technical topic to a normal person are valuable when you teach your grandma on how to use Instagram.

It is easy to forget that we have those hard-earned assets when you use them daily similar to searching for your house keys sitting in your pocket.

Business skills translate to less corporate ways of making money and could be your sea change strategy. In some cases literally. A podcaster and a friend who helped me to develop my training was a software business analyst in her corporate career. She now lives next to the beach doing what she loves helping people around the world without leaving her house.

Take a quick inventory of your skills by writing down your daily activities. Knowing the content of your skills toolbox can use when applying for a role in a new industry or starting your own business. It also helps you to appreciate your main job more rather than seeing it as something that pays the bills.

Finally, after you have been practicing your hobby for a while you may find that some work-related activities you didn’t enjoy in the past are a new fun thing to do. And it isn’t working if you are having fun!

Numerous researches show that humans respond to positive encouragement in the learning process more that we do to punishment. As an added bonus you become better at that part of your job because of practicing it for so long with your brain flooded with “feel good” neurotransmitters.

Author's Bio: 

Jay Martynov helps busy professionals and business owners to manage stress and build a happy life filled with purpose. His coaching includes an understanding of behavioral patterns using enneagram, effective daily routines, and meditation. You can find more details on Jay’s website https://www.jaymartynov.com