At times I struggle with the balance between the need to make enough money to pay my bills (and ideally set some extra cash aside each month) and the desire to have things in my life that are just for me, just for fun, just for growth and struggle and interestingness—not because they allow me to buy groceries or pay my power bill.
This can be tricky because there’s sometimes a natural progression built into the resources we use to learn about such things, which navigate us from beginner to adept to expert, with the expectation that we’ll integrate monetization into our routines at some point along the way; why wouldn’t we?
I personally think there’s value in having non-monetized things in our lives, just as it can sometimes be valuable (and rewarding on multiple levels) to convert a beloved hobby into some kind of side-hustle, or even a professional next-step.
It’s worth remembering, however, that earning money from something tends to change the nature of that thing in our lives: we prioritize different things, we optimize toward different standards, and it can become a source of stress (rather than stress-relief) because of those other people (the ones paying us) who are now involved.
I’ve found that subbing in new, non-monetized interests and pursuits when I accidentally or intentionally start making money from a previous one can help with this, as it ensures I still have that personal, doing-things-because-I-want-to, no-one-to-please-but-myself routine built into my schedule.
It’s a different sort of challenge and growth, and I think that’s valuable to have, even if it requires that I mentally and practically re-categorize what’s a hobby and what’s a business from time to time.
You can also make a good argument for holding firm on some hobbies and not making “smart” business decisions related to them, because sometimes the smarter choice (in terms of lifestyle metrics, if not money metrics) is paying your bills via some other means and keeping this practice sacred and economically untapped.
This piece does a good job of analyzing this concept through a specific hobby-turned-not-hobby.