By Braulio Giron, Jr. on January 24, 2019
Because work and other responsibilities should not always warrant compromising on the things that make you feel most alive
When we were children, most of us had the opportunity at discovery, be it new hobbies we tried, school subjects we found enjoyable, or talents we expanded into skills. These eventually led us to our passions and, being young, we had the time and energy to pursue one or many of these.
However, as time worn on, we’ve done so a little less. While a select few of us have passions and livelihoods which are one and the same, most have typically had to put our pursuits on pause, making room for work and other responsibilities, with some eventually shelving their passions permanently.
While that is seemingly the thing to do, we should try our best to not do away with our passions altogether, and instead insist on pursuing at least one despite a busy schedule. While adding another thing on a list that is likely already full doesn’t seem ideal, having a passion project can prove to be both personally and professionally beneficial.
Expand Your Horizons
Like you did when you were younger, pursuing something you’re keenly interested in will both lead to you learning something new and redefining who you are. If in the past you were an honor student who also became known for being skilled at cooking at a young age, then you can become an exceptional bank executive with an alter-ego as a weekend pastry-chef in training now.
The key is that you’ll be giving yourself a break from your common grind, but still being productive with your time, revisiting your other aspirations and unused skills that you want to use more and improve. It can be something modest like knitting a sweater, or a little more complex like investing in the stock market, but whichever it is, it is something that will add to who you are and your sense of fulfilment.
Enhance Your Energy
While it may initially feel like a chore just thinking about adding another thing on a to-do list that is likely already filled with work, errands, family, chores, and the like, a passion project may just be the key to make you feel more motivated to get up in the morning and go about your day.
As Oprah Winfrey is often credited as saying, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Getting that high from your passion project can carry over to everything else that you do, where you not only have the energy to do things better, but are also motivated to better manage your time and responsibilities in order to continue pursuing your passions and renewing that energy.
Extend Your Portfolio
While fulfillment and enjoyment should be the primary reasons to embark on a passion project, no one ever said it wasn’t allowed to also take the opportunity to expand your portfolio when you do. Depending on the nature of what you want to do, your passion project can also significantly add to your career, if not create one altogether.
For example, if you’ve always wanted to work in tech but your degree is not related to the industry, your passion project can be about getting certified in coding. Alternatively, if you are self-taught or already have the skills, you can showcase these strengths through a passion project like a mockup of a website made for your ideal client. These, and others, can be key additions to your portfolio, and help in getting you a new career or advancing your current one.
Create Your Own Opportunities
Although your passion project “is only a sideline”, it could also bear new opportunities for you and for others as you become proficient in it. Remember, gardeners cultivate, sculptors sculpt, and chefs cook first because they love it, but it’s their passion for their craft that led to masterful creations.
In the instance that your passion project also involves other people, you’ll be creating opportunities for them as well. After all, new products need to be marketed and sold, new websites need new designs, and written stories need accompanying illustrations. Whatever your passion project is, you’ll likely encounter people with common goals that can contribute greatly to what you want to do.
Increase Your Happiness
Positive psychologist Shawn Achor, PhD, explains in his book, The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life, that a way to increase happiness is to increase one’s sense of control over their life. Granted, not everything in life can be controlled, but if yours feels like it’s spinning a little out of it more than it should, a passion project can bring back some needed stability.
It’s your passion project, after all. It’s not a chore coming from your family, a school assignment required by your teacher, or a work request coming from your boss. You are in control of every aspect from what the project is, when you need to accomplish it, and what the measure of success is. This makes it a pressure-free and more enjoyable endeavor.
With that said, having fun is the first and foremost reason to have a passion project. Just about each one starts out with the thought that “that looks like it could be fun”, and when it’s your passion project, it should be. Sure, earning money or gaining notoriety for what you choose to do may be a possibility, but your passion project should uplift and inspire you and increase your motivation.
So whether it’s restoring an old car, building a portfolio as a financial advisor, developing websites for senior citizens who run small businesses, or developing by-products from your favorite indigenous fruit, try pursuing your own passion project. Enjoy having a reminder that you are not some cog in a machine just prodding away, but rather, someone with skills and thrives when enjoying what they do.
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