What activities, interests, and pursuits genuinely give you a feeling of purpose, energy, and joy? Do you have something to wrap your arms around, something to claim as your own personal interest, something that describes a little bit of who you are, something that has you saying, “I am passionate about ___________________,” or “I love how energized, adventurous or fulfilled I feel when I’m doing __________________?”

I’m guessing some of you are struggling to fill in those blanks – so let’s work on discovering your Passion Projects!

Passion projects are more than hobbies or passing interests. They’re callings that stir your soul, fire your dreams, and give a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Having a sense of meaning in what you are doing is an essential part of well-being, so it makes sense that when we are engaged in these types of projects and activities, we can feel good about ourselves and the world.

But how do you find your unique passions?

 As a coach who works with women going through career and personal reinventions, I hear from people who want to find more meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. They feel like there is something more out there for them, something waiting to be tapped into if only they could uncover what it looks like. Especially as women transition into new chapters, they seek purposeful endeavors that utilize their experiences, skills, and talents meaningfully. 

Some people have a pretty good idea of what they want to pursue but need a boost to bring their passions to life, but for others, it can take a journey of self-discovery to find the pursuits that ignite their spirit. Some people can even shy away from the idea of having a passion project because it sounds a little daunting to commit to this, but passion projects are supposed to be for enjoyment, and you should feel a sense of ease in pursuing them.

They:

Don’t have to be something you are good at, just something you are interested in and want to experience and learn more about;

Are not about making money. A PP might be about starting a business you dream of, something to pour your heart and soul into, and financial success will be part of that, but it is not usually the driving force behind the project;

Are not about checking tasks off a to-do list. It may feel great to finish the work, but just taking it off the list is not the motivation. PP’s come from a place of intrinsic motivation and give you a reason to jump out of bed in the morning;

Usually go beyond occasional hobbies to tap into deep fulfillment, creativity, and enjoyment, and

PPs usually call into action people’s experiences, skills, and talents, so you are doing something that is not entirely new, but you may be using those skills in a different way, so it’s a bit exciting.

 So, what can MY passion project be?

When asked what you are passionate about, do you have a long list of ideas, or do you feel stuck in answering this question? If you are stuck or need to narrow your long list, a little self-discovery is the first step to finding your current passion project.

Passion projects come in many shapes & sizes, but they all tap into each woman’s unique blend of dreams, strengths, and values, and they can loosely fit into a few general buckets:

Personal Growth: What knowledge do you want to gain? How can you expand as a person?

Creativity: How can you express originality through hobbies, arts, innovations, or business?

Service: How can you make a difference and give back using your talents?

Adventure: What new experiences excite and invigorate you?

Some examples of passion projects include:

  • Taking classes, studying a topic, and becoming more knowledgeable in an area you are interested in
  • Creating a business based on your dreams & talents
  • Learning an instrument you’ve always been curious about
  • Writing a book or a blog you’ve dreamed of publishing
  • Starting a new sport or training for an athletic event
  • Spending time in Nature: Activities like hiking, walking, or birdwatching
  • Learning or working on an artistic pursuit
  • Volunteering for an organization that aligns with your values
  • Traveling or Planning a trip (maybe to learn about a culture or issue)
  • Creating and nurturing a garden 
  • Being a Mentor – Help teach the world something you already know or enjoy
  • Learning a new language (maybe to connect with your heritage or future travels)

There are no right or wrong answers in charting your passion course. There are so many possibilities. You can have a few projects you feel strongly about or combine your interests and create something that honors your multi-dimensional self.

Let’s explore your personal passion project and how to get started on your journey. First, start with some reflection. You might want to get some pen and paper for this part.

Look Inward

What interests give you joy, pique your curiosity, and make you lose track of space & time? What calling, causes, or issues get you revved up? What topics could you talk about all day? Are you fascinated with any ideas, creations, or innovations? What body movement do you feel good doing? Don’t limit yourself to just one area – reflect broadly on what makes your inner child truly feel some excitement! Make your list.

Imagine Your Superpower

Consider your super skills, too. What comes naturally to you? When you’re in the flow, what makes you beam with delight? Recognizing your strengths reveals activities you’ll truly enjoy. Follow your strengths to uncover your passions! It could be something like organizing chaos, riding a skateboard, training dogs, building go-carts, or maybe you are the best at putting on eyeliner, etc. List everything where you feel you have powers, talents, or skills.

Follow your intuition

Now that you have acknowledged your interests, talents, and skills, you can start to list your ideas about what you want to take on as your personal passion project. You will know intuitively what feels like it would be the right project for you. It will feel aligned with who you are. It will require you to stretch, but feel you can accomplish it. It could be something new to you, where you use your current skills in a new or reinvigorated way. Or you might find that it validates what you have been thinking and dreaming about for a long time. Either way, you will naturally feel lit up when you start thinking, dreaming, and talking about it. Make a short list of all the things you are considering. 

Take Imperfect Action 

Once you have some potential projects in mind, create an action plan for exploring them gradually. Your passion project needs action to come to life. It will surely be imperfect action, but that is how it should be. There will be mistakes, re-dos, and lots of learning. It won’t be a straight line from start to finish and may look messy.

It’s also helpful to break bigger projects into small, manageable steps that build confidence.  Small steps lead to big results.

So now, break down your intuitive shortlist of projects into smaller action steps. Here, you can start to think about the logistics of each project and which ones are achievable and will most likely give you the most enjoyment and satisfaction. Now, you can select your first project and start to take that imperfect action. 

The Journey is the Goal

Of course, having success feels fantastic, but a passion project is about the journey. So, working on it with your heart and soul, with the intention of a successful outcome, is lovely. But it may feel good to let go of the expectation of a specific outcome and the result. With a passion project, the journey is the goal! Remember, it’s a learning process for the sake of the process itself. So mistakes, imperfect action, small steps, spending time, getting lost in the project, enjoyment, fulfillment, and adventure is the point!

So, if your passion project this season is to learn paddle-boarding yoga. You get a paddle board, sign up for classes, love yoga, love the water, and being in the sun and nature. It’s the perfect project for you. You will be using your interests, skills, and talents in a new way to take classes and learn a new sport in nature! Still, your balance on the board is not outstanding, and you spend most of the season in the water and not on your board – but you love it, get lost in it, spend hours out there, and now learning paddle board yoga is “your thing” that you are loving and learning – and you are having success – because the journey is the goal. 

It might be a little bit hard.

Sometimes, trying new things or going deeper to learn more about something you already know can make you uncomfortable. But there can be many benefits to offset this feeling. If you step out of your comfort zone a bit, you can get exposed to new ideas, cultures, and activities and gain a new perspective. You may see things through a different lens and uncover your adventurous side. And trying new things can feel exciting and lead you to meet new people, see new places, and uncover even more passions.

Throughout the process, you may have to stare some fears in the face and deal with some logistical constraints, but each obstacle presents an opportunity for personal growth. That said, if fear feels overwhelming or you feel physically or emotionally uncomfortable doing any of the projects you take on, please talk to a medical professional about that. And, of course, check with your medical professionals to ensure you are cleared before taking on any physical endeavors, actions, sports, or activities.  

Stay Dedicated

Finding your passion project is a journey of self-discovery, growth, trying new things, and sometimes fumbles. It’s not usually a single “aha!” moment. If you are getting enjoyment and feeling energized from the process, sticking with it can be very rewarding, even with the mistakes, missteps, and messy starts.

Of course, if you find that frustration and lack of interest outweigh the joy and fulfillment, you might rethink whether this is the right project for you at this time in your life. Passion Projects are evolving creatures and can change over time and with your circumstances.  And since this is all about what brings you joy, energy, adventure and fulfillment, if you do not feel those things when engaged in the project, there is probably no need to continue.  Consider if it is time to wrap it up, thank it for all the past joy it has given you, and move on.

By continually seeking new challenges and opening yourself up to change, you allow your passions to blossom, evolve, and keep current with where you are in your life. And you may surprise yourself with how rewarding the process can be. With an open and curious spirit, your passion will guide you to meaning and adventure.

Look for your team

It’s wonderful to share your progress, energy, and passion with others.  It’s important to seek support when needed, and it’s affirming to celebrate your achievements along the way. Finding your passion is a journey of self-discovery and growth, but you don’t need to go it alone.

And if you need help, a coach can help. A coach can work with you to explore your passions and new pursuits, take action, address what is holding you back, tackle logistical constraints, provide accountability, encouragement, and perspective, and get you on your way to your next passion project.

Your passion project awaits!

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