It's a rare occurrence to hear someone say that they are fulfilled by work and work alone. Everyone has some sort of hobby or special interest that's separate and apart from their professional life.
But, depending on their position, not everyone is able to commit a reasonable amount of time to these "passion projects."
That may seem inconsequential, but it actually has some serious adverse affects on employees and productivity. And if you're noticing some low morale or engagement from your team, this might be a contributing factor.
What Is a Passion Project?
These are the projects that stem purely from personal interest and investment. They're a bit more grand than your general hobbies, like collecting or painting.
Passion projects are often big picture. They act as a silo for creativity and discovery, allowing you to fully explore something that interests you at your own pace and in your own way.
Some projects are purely for creative expression or self-indulgence, while others can actually lead to some sort of commission or revenue.
4 Benefits of Personal Projects
Having a passion project can help improve your day to day life, giving you something to look forward to and work toward. They can break up the monotony of your week and bring some diversity into your activities.
You can gain a lot from a personal project in a variety of ways, but there are four core benefits to having one.
1. Creative Exploration
A side project is meant to challenge your brain and test your skills in new ways outside of your normal routine. You're able to dig deeper and in different directions than you may have been allowed in a controlled, professional setting.
Your limitations with a passion project are only the ones that you make for yourself. This sort of freedom can be liberating and promote the development of new skills and new perspectives.
2. Personal Growth
As you explore your personal interests further, you may discover new parts of yourself that you wouldn't have been able to uncover otherwise.
It's important for individuals to take the time to learn more about themselves. A personal project can help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations.
3. Professional Development
Most of the skills you'll develop or refine while working on personal projects can be used in your professional life as well. Transferrable skills are invaluable and can be a great way to step up your game.
4. Control Over Time Management
How often do you feel like your schedule is running you and not the other way around?
Passion projects can offer the opportunity to have a bit more autonomy over your agenda. You can dedicate time in your week to slow down and get lost in a creative endeavor, rather than looking for the next work task or project to try and burn through.
How to Find Your Passion Project
Where do you start though? How do you know what to commit to or find what inspires and motivates you?
There's not as much pressure involved as you may think.
1. List Out Ideas That Interest You.
Most people have varied interests, so it's an unfair assumption to think that you can come up with the project for you off the top of your head.
Create a list of project ideas, or even just general interests, that appeal to you. Make sure that you're coming up with ideas that will keep your attention and actually engage you.
Running with a project that's going to eventually bore you or become a chore is a waste of time, resources, and can actually feel pretty demoralizing.
Pick one that you feel you can actually commit to, finish, and take pride in when you have a finished product.
2. Consider Your Capacity.
All too often, people pick a project that's a bit out of scope for them. They underestimate the commitment and wind up not being able to dedicate the necessary amount of time or resources to it.
Examine your lifestyle and factor in if you can reasonably schedule in project work time. Will the project require a budget? Can you afford it?
If the answer is no to either of those questions, that doesn't mean you should abandon the concept. You may just need to downsize the project or pick a smaller one.
3. Build Time in Your Schedule for Them.
This is actually pretty important. Life can get busy, but that's not your fault. Not everyone can afford to put their passion projects at the top of their priority list.
But the whole point of having one is to give yourself a break and work on something that inspires you.
Try to stick to a regular schedule of carved out time dedicated to working on the project. Whether it's thirty minutes a day before your morning commute or several hours on the weekend, make it work in a way that suits your lifestyle.
Don't forget to be flexible. You might miss a day or find extra time over a holiday to spend on it. That's ok! As long as you continue making progress, you're on the right track.
4. Work Toward Tangible Results.
Everybody finds value and satisfaction in their own unique way, but it's pretty common to need a tangible result to stay motivated.
There's something incredibly satisfying to see something you've been working on for a while actually develop before your eyes.
Aim toward a finished product that you can behold in front of you. In today's digital age, it may not always be possible to physically hold your project in your hands (depending on the project), but you can still feel as proud of a visual product as you can a physical one.
Make sure you're working toward something that will actually satisfy you. Theoretical or metaphorical projects can leave you wanting in the end.
5. Share The Finished Product With the World.
This is your time to shine. You've put in hours, sweat, maybe some tears. As much as this project was for you, it can be even more gratifying to have it validated by someone else.
You don't have to publicly share it for everyone to see. It can be scary to open yourself up to others' opinions like that. But even showing it to a friend, roommate, or spouse can spark a greater sense of achievement.
If you are feeling confident enough to broadcast it to the world, there are benefits to reap there. Public praise can be uplifting in an indescribable way.
It's also not uncommon for people to sell their passion projects or earn commission orders from showing off their skills. Who knows? Your project could inspire someone else to start their own.
Passion Project Ideas
That's the beauty of a passion project. It can be whatever you want it to be. From tinkering with pet robots to shooting an independent film, the scale of the project is up to you.
Here are some personal project ideas that you can pick or draw inspiration from:
Start a Blog.
Don't knock it 'til you try it.
It may seem like blogging has become pretty common, but that can be easily explained. It's a great creative outlet that people enjoy reading as much as writing!
Blogs are an excellent means of channeling your creative juices because you can write about just about anything. If you like plants, there's an audience for that. Want to document your progress as you craft your own canoe? Blog it!
This one may feel a bit obvious and cliche also, but for those who have the skillset (or want to learn!), this outlet can be particularly helpful. You can explore different painting styles and practice the wide variety of paint types as well.
Projects can be as small as quick speed paints or as grand as full portraits. The scale is up to you!
Pick Up a Camera.
A great facet of art is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you have an eye for interesting photos, you might like the idea of pursuing photography as a personal project.
For a goal to work toward, make a plan to have a substantial photo album by a particular date. You can try to stick to a particular theme or have it be diverse.
Build Your Own Furniture.
We don't mean IKEA shelves, even though you can do that too if it floats your boat.
We mean trying your hand at making the boat. Woodworking and carpentry are very hands on and require focus and calculation. If you're looking for a passion project that you can truly get lost in, this is a great one.
Think of all the gifted dinner tables and chairs you can give to impress your friends and family.
Become Fluent in a Foreign Language.
This is a challenge that most people consider doing, but they never actually get around to it.
Break the cycle and expand your horizons by dedicating time in your week to learn a new language. There are several great apps and programs available that allow you to learn at your own pace. You can even invest in in-person tutoring sessions!
Learn an Instrument.
Music can be a pretty therapeutic means of expressing yourself. Picking up an instrument works different parts of your brain that are often under-stimulated in professional settings.
Talk about tangible products, pottery is a great way to get your hands dirty and get a reward at the end for it.
Not only will you have a finished product, but you'll get to feel the accomplishment of having made it yourself.
Start a Volunteer/Social Works Group.
If you're motivated by helping others, then offering your time and energy toward a cause you believe in is a great idea. Organizing a volunteer group is a constructive use of your free time.
You can find like minded people in Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, or even your coworkers!
Learn to Cook Gourmet Dishes.
A delicious past time, there's no shortage of recipes to try and master. Cooking actually offers a great deal of space for creativity and experimentation.
Film a Movie.
You don't have to be a millionaire to make a movie in today's digital age. At the very least, you only need a mobile device with a decent quality camera.
Whether you write the script yourself or just improvise with some colleagues, filming and editing your own video can be a fulfilling passion project that shows off just how imaginative you are.
Write a Book.
It's become a remarkably easier process to write and release a book. Taking the time to sit and complete it requires commitment and patience, but once it's completed, you can self-publish or even publish it online as an ebook.
Of course, it requires a lot more of an investment if you want to be a New York Times' Best Seller, but if you're just seeking the accomplishment, chase the dream!
Build a Robot.
Maybe not literally, but if the mood strikes you, why not?
If you have serious engineering skills and a passion for technology, put the two together to build or customize different devices. Whether it be a robot waiter or your own custom desktop tower, have fun creating something for yourself.
Grow a Garden.
You'll know your fruits and vegetables are organic if you grow them yourself. Cultivating your own garden takes time, sweat, and a lot of love. But the rewards can be bountiful.
Not only will a garden give you produce in return, but if you use local flora and beneficial plants, you'll be helping your local environment as well!
The bees will thank you.
Launch a Podcast or YouTube Channel.
Nowadays, the two aren't mutually exclusive. A lot of creators will film their podcasts and post them on YouTube so that they can reach audiences across multiple platforms.
We live in an era of innovation and bright thinking. If you have a voice and big ideas to share, explore setting up a channel and sharing your thoughts with the world.
This sounds a bit vague, but that's on purpose. Like we said earlier, you're only as limited as your imagination. Maybe you'll design a new irrigation system for your yard. Or perhaps you'll come up with a new, cool language.
Let your ideas fly and spark your creativity. If you're passionate about it and it's within your ability to pursue, don't let anyone stop you.
How to Add Personal Projects on Your Resume
It's a pretty common practice to feature relevant personal projects in a professional capacity to help bolster your resume. And why not? Remember what we said about transferable skills.
If you learned something valuable from your passion project or you created a finished product that really showcases your skills, use it to your advantage.
Here are just a few ways to leverage your personal projects for your professional life:
- Create an online portfolio showcasing your art, web design skills, or writing abilities.
- Upload or link demos, photos, or files of your finished projects on LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Detail relevant side projects on your actual resume in relation to the position you're applying for. You can title the section as "Personal Projects" or "Freelance Projects."
Using personal projects in a professional environment demonstrates that you know how to use your skills in the real world. Recruiters and hiring managers appreciate being able to see what you've built and what you're passionate about.
If you're trying to find your own passion project or encouraging your team to discover their own, you're on the right track.
Having these personal outlets is important in reducing burnout, maximizing engagement, and promoting talent development.
With a few ideas bouncing around in your head, get started listing out what dreams you want to chase and jump on a passion project of your own.