It's a tough time to find a passion project." The economy is still lagging, there's so much more competition for our time, and we are working longer and longer hours to maintain our standard of living. So, working on a project that you're passionate about seems like a luxury that you cannot afford.
What is a passion project anyway?
A passion project is something you work on (often outside of your chosen career path) that gives you satisfaction, happiness and puts you into a state of flow. It's what you do to escape it all. Its your tiny (or huge) contribution to the world.
How, as the insanely busy people we are, would anyone ever do this?
I struggled with this and I still do. I was so busy with my job, kids, and daily responsibilities that I felt that I needed to wait for the right time before starting working on anything I was passionate about. Plus, I was worried that people would think that I hated my career if I started doing a project on the side.
About two years ago, even though I was working so diligently at work, I couldn't deny that I often looked at the clock and longed for the work day to end. But then I looked at it again, at home, waiting for the kids' bedtime to arrive, and then I was waiting for the time I could wind down and go to sleep. I often used internet, social media, coffee and snacks as distraction (it would give me the brain dopamine spike I needed).
I actually forgot what I used to love as a child. I had lost a sense of purpose when waking up in the morning. Then, I observed my friend, and it was completely different for her. She was just as busy as I was, if not more so, and seemingly found time to work on her passion project.
She told me she would often go into a state of flow when she was writing about her interests. She told me it energized her and gave her clarity. She told me that one day she may turn it into a career. "What?!!" I thought. "How does she have time and energy for this?," and even more importantly, "How did she even find this project?"
I was intrigued to say the least, and I started on my own path to become more purposeful with my time and working on a passion project. This is why I wrote this: to convince you to start your own passion project. And why should you listen to me? I'm no expert in finding purpose and you shouldn't listen to anyone but yourself when it comes to your life, but here is my experience.
I have studied the human body extensively and I feel that there is an intimate connection between finding your purpose and your overall health. These two seemingly unrelated ideas that are completely intertwined. If you're skeptical, good! You should be! I was the same way.
Here are 10 reasons why you'll benefit from starting your own passion project.
1. You'll be able to tap into your state of flow.
A state of flow, in my description, is where time stands still and everything but what you're working on is a blur. You feel clarity and complete focus. Some athletes refer to this as the "zone," an almost out of body experience. Often, this happens during a creative or athletic task such as mountain climbing or writing where you become hyper-focused, experience enjoyment and full immersion. Ever since I heard about this, I became obsessed with finding my flow state.
2. You'll decrease your stress levels.
Cortisol and other stress hormones these days are constantly in the "on" position. Traffic, deadlines, bills and everything else are keeping the stress levels "on" for longer. One of the best ways to turn them off is to engage in a pleasurable activity. When you have less cortisol and other stress hormones, you stop this vicious cycle.
By working on a something like a blog about music, sports, art or eating habits, you can turn that switch to the off, or at least to the pause position. For most people, by correcting this imbalance, they start to notice increased energy, decrease in their body fat, and improved wellbeing.
3. You can get leaner.
How does that work? When you're getting stress-relief from working on your project, you become less reliant on foods to decrease stress. Ever heard of eating chocolate cake after a long, stressful day? It's because you crave those feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine. Think of working on your passion project after a long, hard day like your "piece of cake."
4. You'll be in a better mood.
Endorphins (basically endogenous or our bodies' natural morphine) are released when you work on a project like this. They're the same neurotransmitters responsible for "runners high" and are also released during meditation, or massage. This happens even if you don't get into flow state.
5. It can help break your technology addiction.
Checking your email, Facebook and Twitter more than 20 times a day? Many of us love the dopamine spike we get from a new message or when someone "likes" our picture. What if during your mini-breaks at work you were working on something you consider meaningful? What if you could cut your email and web checks to twice a day and use other free time to work on something like your passion project?
6. It can help you build on your talents.
Everyone has talents, strengths and interests. Sometimes we have lost those over the years. Why not rediscover this and work on it? Usually a close look at your childhood will reveal areas of talent and interest. Remember when you would go to the library and pick up books for fun? What was it that you loved to learn about? What really made you look at the world in a different light?
7. You can build your own legacy.
Imagine how your kids, spouse or close friends describe you as a person. They definitely are not going to talk about your overtime hours at work, or your favorite websites to surf while killing time at work. Think about what you would want them to say. Shape this now.
8. You may find an alternate/side career.
As you probably know, money is really hard to make, and it's really easy to lose. One bad investment deal, one house you can no longer afford, anything these days can quickly break the bank. Why not start investing in yourself right now? Imagine you lost your job and had no other job opportunities to jump into. What would be your back up? Wouldn't it be nice to have some experience from your passion project to lean on?
9. Even if it doesn't turn into a business, there are amazing health benefits from unpaid work.
It's remarkable but there is evidence that people who attain purpose through volunteer work have lower rates of heart disease and death. This review of research found that as little as 1-2 hours of volunteer work a week produced a number of beneficial effects including improved mood, health and satisfaction.
10. It's a reason to wake up in the morning!
A sense of purpose gives you a reason to live life to the fullest. Simply put, passion makes our lives feel more meaningful.
So, what if you want to embark on your passion project today? Go ahead because you are the only one who knows what to do. I don’t know. Nobody else knows. But once you begin, the world won’t ever be the same.