Over the summer, I completed a little experiment: I finally decided to tackle those “back-burner” ideas and projects I’d been mulling over for months.
You know what I’m talking about — those fun bonus projects that don’t directly relate to your job or business (or maybe they do!), but energize and excite you, nonetheless.
Those ideas that constantly get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list, but you tell yourself, “One day …”
When I found myself with a bit of extra time (summer tends to be a slower season for picking up new business), I turned my sights to three passion projects I’d put off for far too long.
What’s a passion project?
According to The Passion Co., passion projects are “creative side projects that are connected to your deeper meaning and they have tangible outcomes.”
Sounds fun, right? I bet you have a list of passion projects that you’d like to get to eventually, too.
Your passion project could be:
- Writing a book
- Taking up photography
- Pitching a story idea to a publication
- Starting a blog
- Opening a shop
- Creating a YouTube channel
- Learning to play an instrument
- Publishing an e-book
- Launching a podcast
In my case, my passion projects this summer included:
- Redesigning my website (Guess what! You’re looking at the completed project)
- Preparing to teach at Temple University for the fall semester.
- Developing a personal branding workshop.
Here’s why passion projects rock
We all have passion project ideas up our sleeves — and truthfully, it would serve us well to make these passion projects more of a priority because of the fulfillment they give us, which often transfers into our work and other tasks.
Need more convincing to dedicate time to your own passion project? Here are four compelling reasons to get a jump-start on one now.
1. Passion projects keep us excited and energized
It can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of your job, online business or your client work, and forget about what it was that got you excited about what you do in the first place.
When I started getting busier in my business, the first item removed from my to-do list was guest blogging.
Even though I write in some capacity every single day, a few years into running my business, I realized something important: I missed writing for fun. Something was lacking—my passion and excitement.
I know I’m not alone.
When you make time for projects that excite you, that passion naturally spreads into the other work you’re doing. Plus, it leaves you happier—and isn’t that a win for everyone?
2. They help us learn new skills
No doubt, you’re an expert in whatever it is that you do.
But could your passion project help you pick up new skills? My friend and fellow business owner Crystal Richard thinks so
PR pro turned shop owner Crystal says that starting another company in an industry completely foreign to her has helped her acquire skills that may turn out to be beneficial in other ways and with other companies or clients. For example, as a PR pro, Crystal regularly helps brands share their stories online to raise awareness or sell their product or services, but now as a shop owner, she can see firsthand the impact a well-placed media mention or killer social media post can have on the bottom line.
3. Passion projects allow us to flex our creativity in a new way
Many people start passion projects to satisfy a creative itch that may be lacking in their day job or business.
I turned to my friend and Her Philly blogger Emily Tharp to learn more: “I started my blog because I was looking for a resource for women like me about something that was new to me: Philadelphia. Now that I’m full-force in love with my city, I don’t want to stop sharing the things that make it special for each new Philly lady looking to make the city her home,” explains Emily Tharp, who works full-time in marketing and social media for a finance firm and runs the blog Her Philly as a side hustle and passion project.
Running Her Philly gives Emily the chance to exercise her creativity in a way that allows her to speak to a very different audience than who she aims to reach in her day job.
Let’s face it: The day-to-day of going to work or running a business can sometimes get repetitive, so finding a creative outlet can serve as a welcome reprieve, giving you something new to be excited about outside of your primary job.
4. They can actually help propel our businesses and brands forward
Best of all, passion projects can actually help our businesses, either directly or indirectly.
“While it’s tough to find time for things other than client work, it always feels good to share a new project with the world,” says freelance writer Susan Shain. “Passion projects have allowed me to stretch myself creatively and make products I’m proud of, as well as solve problems for my community and help build my brand.”
Here’s another way to think about it: Passion projects help switch things up in our daily routines. When we shift gears to a passion project, we can more easily prevent burnout, which can become prevalent when you’re so often working with the same subject.
Make time and clear space for your passion project
Do yourself a favor: Add your passion project to this week’s to-do list, even setting aside just 15 minutes to give your project the jump-start it deserves. You don’t have to wait until you lose a client or for a holiday or summer break to embrace the project you’re enthused about.
The best time to start? Right now.
Once your passion project is in motion, the benefits will become clear. You’ll find yourself more energized and excited, you’ll add to your ever-growing skillset, and you might even help boost your business or career.
And believe me, I get it. As a busy entrepreneur with a to-do list a mile long, or a writer with a backlog of assignments, it can feel selfish to set aside time to pursue a project that fills you with joy. I count myself lucky that I have extra time in this particular season, but I know that even when my business picks back up in the fall, I’m going to continue to nurture these passion projects.
Know that when you carve out time for your passion project, you’re improving yourself—and bringing a better, more refreshed, and creative version of you to your business or your job. Plus, you’re making things happen for yourself, and really, nothing feels more satisfying than that.
A version of this post originally appeared on the Craft Your Content blog.