Passion projects are like a breath of fresh air when all you’ve been breathing in is unventilated air in a stuffy room.
There are many reasons to start a passion project, the simplest one is that it just feels good to get immersed in a creative project of some sort.
-It feels good to embark on a new adventure and start a new project. Since the novelty wears off quickly, it’s ideal to limit the timeline for such projects to six months.
-After a lifetime of having our work judged and appraised by teachers and bosses, it’s liberating to work on something that won’t be critically evaluated by someone (sometimes our creative work does get judged and reviewed, but the main impact of such evaluations is on our ego and not our social/financial/professional positions – unless you post something really stupid that costs you your job, no sympathies for you there).
-A passion project can be added to your portfolio, but the beauty of it is it doesn’t have to be. You can just do something for the pleasure you derive from it. As Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Eat, Pray Love, “In this dark period of loss, did I need any justification for learning Italian other than that it was the only thing I could imagine bringing me any pleasure right now?”
-It feels great to make progress at something.
-It awakens traits you had as a child such as playfulness and curiosity.
-Sometimes passion projects turn into something bigger – think Human Of New York.
The most common passion projects nowadays are;
1) Building apps
4) Going on photowalks
6) Learning how to code
The internet is full of instructables and youtube videos that teach you to do whatever you want to. But you can’t learn how to swim by watching a youtube video. You have to jump into the pool. The main points to remember are;
Don’t fall into analysis paralysis. Pick something you’re slightly interested in, and start doing it. If you don’t like it, move on.
Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect. It’s easy to say; I’ll start when I have more free time/money…etc. But no, start where you are with what have and go from there.
Match your passion project to your energy level. After a long day at work, you might not feel like getting into anything that requires so much energy, so your after-work projects would be different from your weekend projects. I personally keep painting for low-energy days and writing for high-energy days because writing is quite a cognitively-taxing process.
Pour Your Heart Into It. Don’t do something just because you want to say, “I did so and so.” That’s not the point. The point is to immerse yourself into it so deeply that the sense of time disappears. Your passion project should act like fireworks to your otherwise ordinary, mundane personal landscape. Basically if you don’t enjoy your passion project, quit and choose something else.
Get a partner. Whether it’s a family member or friend, it’s easier to continue a passion project when you’re doing it with someone else. You tend to hold each other accountable. It’s also good for your relationship. In The End of Your Life Book Club, the author notes how reading and discussing books got him closer to his mother towards the end of her life.
So what passion project would you love to start? Tweet me @ahechoes with #passionproject.