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Why You Should Start a Passion Project

A passion project may provide other benefits like learning new skills, meeting new people, contributing to a current career or developing a new one. These bonuses are like icing on the cake.
02/19/2016 05:05pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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Is there something you yearn to do? Maybe you haven't told anyone else... but still, you keep thinking about it.

Maybe you dream of publishing a graphic novel
or taking the world of knitting by storm with bespoke mittens.
Maybe you are fascinated by origami
or you've always wanted to learn Italian.

But so far you haven't pursued it because it doesn't seem practical. Or responsible. You've got a list of things to do and if it's not on the list, it's not important. Who has time to be frivolous?

I invite you to start a passion project.

A passion project is a trendy name for doing something that excites and inspires you. You do it for your own satisfaction, not for anybody else's. It piques your curiosity and spurs your energy. It doesn't need a purpose.

If you're already thinking "I don't have time for that", then consider this: passion projects are about fostering your well-being by doing something that lights you up.

Passion projects are about freedom too, because there are no rules about what a passion project should be. The way to begin finding your passion is simple: be curious. Pay attention to what interests you. Your project is something you are drawn to, not something you think your way to. That's why it's a passion project - it elicits a strong emotion. It makes you feel like "Oooh! Yes, THAT!"

If you find yourself describing it with language like "implementing synergistically scalable benefits" you are probably heading in the direction of a resumé-padding project, not a passion project. Check in with your curiosity again.

Are you still resisting your project? Don't judge or censor your ideas with criticisms like "that's silly" or "I can't do that" or "what will people think". It's not about the results, it's about creative action on your terms. You get to devote as much time and energy to it as you want. Remember, the main benefit of doing a passion project is this: it feels good. It nourishes your spirit. Do not underestimate the power of generating positive feelings - this is what happiness is made of.

A passion project may provide other benefits like learning new skills, meeting new people, contributing to a current career or developing a new one. These bonuses are like icing on the cake. But even if they don't happen, the inspiration, sense of satisfaction and meaning the project provides will carry over into other areas of your life in beneficial ways.

University of Pennsylvania professor Adam Grant writes about pursuing creative interests: "Relative to typical scientists, Nobel Prize winners are 22 times more likely to perform as actors, dancers or magicians; 12 times more likely to write poetry, plays or novels; seven times more likely to dabble in arts and crafts; and twice as likely to play an instrument or compose music."

Play with your curiosity and let yourself explore something new. You never know where your "Oooh! Yes, THAT!" will take you.