Ever scroll through social media then see a friend sharing a painting they made or a cover they recorded? And, be honest, have you ever thought to yourself: I could do (something like) that? If you said yes to both questions, then congratulations. You’ve just expressed interest in a passion project.
“How would you define a passion project?” I remember my friend Ica asking me when I came in to interview her about her own project.
Ask people you know just what a passion project is, chances are you’ll get a bunch of related answers. An artist friend might tell you it’s the corporate full-timer’s creative hobby they indulge in after punching in eight hours. A business-minded workmate might say it’s someone’s way of earning on the side doing something they love. (Commissions, merch, the possibilities!).
No matter who you ask, you’ll find a common thread among people’s answers. But before we say exactly what a passion project is, we can take a closer look at how you have more to gain than lose by starting one.
A passion project keeps you curious
People talk about how trying new things makes us happier in the long run, and if you think about it, you don’t try new things unless you’ve got the curiosity to back it up. Even researchers and scientists are vouching that curiosity could be one of the keys to happiness not everybody knows about. (There’s even a book about the relationship between a curious lifestyle and a fulfilling life!)
When you start a passion project, part of what you do involves learning more about the craft. Someone who’s making a series of dance videos, for example, would not only have to learn new moves and choreography to include in their short films – they’d also be learning about actually shooting and editing actual videos.
I haven’t met a single person who’s started a passion project and wasn’t curious enough to see how they can get better at it. And if you’re worried you might not stick to the first idea you try, then that’s okay. The beauty in these passion projects is that there’s no legally binding contract that dictates you do it for the rest of your life. You might have to power through a couple trial and errors, but even that can be fun in itself.
When we try new things or restart old hobbies, we get this unexplicable joy. Imagine you’re a kid trying ice cream for the very first time – that’s how it feels to have a passion project.
There are practical benefits to having a passion project
Just in case passion projects being a personal happy pill doesn’t convince you to start one, these reasons might:
I tune into on Chris Guillebeau’s podcast Side Hustle School a lot, but I’ll never forget his first episode. He tells us about a man who made hundreds of dollars a month from an eyebrow-raising hobby – blogging about fish tanks. (Side note for my marketing-loving friends: it really pays to have a niche, after all.)
Lots of people have discovered that their passion projects eventually pave the way for a small side hustle. And side hustles rake in extra cash. And extra cash lets the cycle repeat itself – funding more passion projects along the way. Even better is that these people actually enjoy what they’re doing. They don’t need to be doing these projects for an entire day either. Just even ten minutes makes all the difference.
And even if you aren’t ready to turn your passion project into a money-making side hustle, there’s still a lot of value trying to get to that point. Just keep doing those projects, and you will get better. Not to mention all the other good stuff that happen when you really take the time to do things that interest you. Just to enumerate: meeting like-minded people and building a tribe, or even helping you get into a new career.
Trust me. It gets better.
Because passion projects give us a reason to wake up in the morning
Okay, slightly stretching it.
But I remember the days when I was just starting this website (my own personal passion project!). I literally went to bed excited to get up again because it’d be another day to see where this project goes. From designing the site top to bottom, learning HTML and CSS, planning every possible post, and even getting to #LaunchDay!
Sure, I had daytime responsibilities to take care of. But if anything, I got really productive (or, according to friends who know me well, extra more productive than usual), just so that I could devote more time to getting this project off the ground.
That’s why I can’t say it enough: start a passion project. And start one that means something to you.
Again, you might not find The One project right away, but trust me. Just like any great relationship: the chase is worth it. And if things don’t work, just make like you would in any love affair: call it quits and move on. No hard feelings. You’re investing in you, after all.
So maybe after everything said above, we can finally get to pinning down what passion projects really are. While they look like just another thing we can do whenever we have the time, they go even beyond that.
A passion project is something we create to enrich our lives. It keeps us creative, motivated – happy even. They’re more than projects. They’re an investment in ourselves.
Leave me a comment:
Have you started, or will you start a passion project? What kind?