Essays, How To

How to Rock your Passion Project

Tim Cole Partner Projects

Artist Tim Cole of Partner Projects is definitely rocking his passion project.

One of the coolest things about running Groundwork! is that I get to meet folks who are in varying stages of a passion project.

What is a passion project?

It is anything that focuses on utilizing your talents and the things you LOVE. It could be starting a blog, writing a novel, or launching a cupcake business. It is something that makes you smile when you think about it. It is something that makes your heart race. Passion projects are FUN.

In fact, Groundwork! started as a passion project. It was two friends coming together to combine talents and create something cool– me on one end loving to write, design, and produce content (without any bosses or clients telling me what to do). Dena on the other with a passion for building vibrant community and connecting people.

It seems daunting to start a passion project: where will you find the time and resources? Let me offer a few starting tips from my view on the other side:

 

Create a schedule

In the beginning, you’re not answering to anyone but yourself. So you will have to create your own structure. If you’re a blogger, maybe you set a goal of two posts per week. If you’re a novelist, set a couple of deadlines. When I was editing my documentary Tracking Patagonia, I used grant and festival deadlines to motivate myself.

At Groundwork!, we launched a crowdfunding campaign, which put us in a pressure-cooker for 30 days. We had to produce videos, social media posts, and perks to keep the campaign going. It forced us to get clear on our vision. Which brings me to my next tip…

 

Go public

Once you’ve produced enough to feel clear and confident in your vision, start talking about it! Tell everyone you know– friends, family, Twitter followers, random Facebook friends you’ve never actually met. Suddenly you are accountable. And this helps a lot. With Groundwork! we had to go very public to promote our crowdfunding campaign, and we upped the accountability ante by asking for money. Once we had backers, we were compelled to move forward and report on our progress.

Accountability is scary and necessary. Failing publicly is honorable, but quitting publicly feels pretty yucky.

 

Keep it FUN

Now, let’s remember the FUN. Once you’re accountable and swimming in deadlines, your passion project can start to feel like… ugh… work. And yeah, some of it is work. You wanted to turn this into something, remember? Still, you’ve gotta keep it fun. Always come back to your starting point:

What about this project makes you passionate?

When I start to feel like I’m slogging at Groundwork!, I will write something for the blog. I know this is incredibly dorky and probably hard to believe, but for me this is fun. It reinforces why I’m here. When I write my ideas about coworking, I feel like I’m falling in love all over again.

So when you start to feel burnout, go back to your passion. Keep that flame burning bright.

 

Reframe your weakness

I spoke at length about this during my talk at TEDxNewBedford and I can’t emphasize it enough– your very “weakness” is what makes you unique. If you look closely at your reasons not to do something you’ll find clues to a strategic plan. It’s why Groundwork! is not only successful, but meaningful to far more people than the two of us who started it. Your weakness is an opportunity to give a real gift to the world. You can watch my talk here:

 

I could go on about passion projects for days. I’ve built my life around them. It’s not an easy way to make a living. But for some of us, it’s better than spending a lifetime working on other people’s dreams.  If you feel the calling, I urge you to take the leap.

Before I go, here are some great reads on passion projects that have motivated me:

How to Start a Passion Project One Day at a Time:  This one is really tactical and super helpful.

How to Do what you Love: Um, this got me to quit my job as a marketing director. Thanks Paul Graham.

A Roadmap to a Life that Matters: Umair Haque is like, totally my brain crush. I dig his newer stuff (warning: it is highly political!) but this one hit me hard back in 2011.

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Sarah

Co-founder at Groundwork!
Sarah lived all over South America, produced a documentary about Patagonia, and worked in digital marketing for a decade before settling in New Bedford to start Groundwork! She loves running a coworking space because she gets to meet the coolest people in the world.
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