We can spend so much of our time on everyone and everything else that we sometimes neglect to refuel ourselves. When you don’t provide yourself with the mental maintenance to ensure your well-being is intact, it’s easy to become deflated, disengaged, and disgruntled. If this is a good description of what you have been living through, it may be time to take a pause. This season is perfect for reflecting on goals and creating a plan for your passion project in 2021. While it’s our duty to care for family and support our friends, there is a bigger issue brewing. Some of us take care of everyone else but neglect our part that needs mental, physical, or spiritual attention. It’s imperative that we prioritize our sanity and take more control over what we so willingly give away that is irreplaceable: TIME.
A few years ago, I wanted to write a book and didn’t know when or how I would get it done. One day after feeling defeated by always giving my time with no end in sight, I decided to “steal” an hour from my day to focus on my book. I woke up earlier or went to bed later than my family to research and write. I started to look forward to my project time, and what may have started as a sacrifice soon became my sanctuary. It took three months to complete my first project, but with Amazon self-publishing and an investment in myself, I got it done!
Before you can think clearly about your plan, you have to give yourself the mental space to breathe. Creating a mental break can be as simple as taking a bubble bath, running an errand without the kids, or carving out a couple of hours to read a book because this soothes your soul. Taking care of yourself can also mean completing the degree you have put off for years, starting the business you regularly mention, or publishing the book you have inside you. I’ve learned that if I don’t make myself a priority, I won’t be a priority on anyone else’s list. It’s not that those close to me don’t care, but rather it’s about communicating what I want and outlining boundaries for the space I need. However, little time this may be, even an hour can go a long way if you plan it. The reality is, if people don’t know what you need, they can’t help you.
We can be an enemy to ourselves because saying “I’m too busy” will not eliminate the need to replenish our spirit. Some of us understand the importance of carving out “me time” and can simply say, “I’m taking this time for me,” and do it. Then there are others who will not heed the advice and will crash before they realize it’s OK to take time for themselves. Suppose you are challenged with following through on personal goals and need something more formal and structured. In that case, this article may inspire you and give a gentle push in the right direction.
5 Easy Steps to Launching Your Passion Project
If you want a practical way to find and focus on a passion project in 2021, here are 5 easy steps to get started:
- Create a quick outline for your project plan and document your overarching goal at the top: I will spend (whatever time) doing something I love that feeds my passion.
- List the things you are passionate about and determine how much time you can contribute to this activity each week. The items on your list are just a brain dump of everything you have a passion or interest in. You can look at the logistics next.
- Rank the list in ascending order, with #1 being the priority or thing you are most interested in. Review each activity for how likely you will be able to start reasonably soon (give yourself a deadline). If the item proves too challenging now to commit to, move it to a “parking lot,” a separate list, and revisit it later.
- Remove your parking lot items and renumber your list, starting with the highest interest first. Next to each item, write a day and time you can commit to it and select one thing to begin your project.
- Communicate to your immediate circle that you will be “working on a project” (whether it’s one hour or one day a week). Share with family and friends that your project time is imperative to your sanity, and then set your boundaries.
Make a promise to yourself that you will schedule around whatever comes up (not including emergencies, of course).
After your first experience with any item on your list, note how you felt and any special preparations needed to execute this activity.
If you felt that it took a lot of effort to prepare but you enjoyed it, explore how it can be easier.
However, if you did NOT enjoy it as much as you thought, start the next activity.
Resources to Manage Your Time and Your Passion Project
Time management skills can help anyone with organization, communication, and goal achievement (yes, you can develop new skills while enjoying yourself). Check out these resources to help you organize and stay on track:
Time Management Ninja (Stitcher: 6 Min) — In this podcast, Craig Jarrow succinctly provides the “Top 10 Life Benefits of Time Management”.
How to Gain Control of Your Free Time (Ted Talk: 11 Min) — According to Laura Vanderkam, there are 168 hours each week, so how do we find time for what matters most? This time management expert studies how busy people spend their lives. She offers a few practical strategies to help find more time for what matters to us, so we can “build the lives we want in the time we’ve got.”
Real Happy Mom (Apple Podcasts: 22 Min) — Grab a cup of coffee and join Tracy Morgan for the Real Happy Mom Podcast. This episode, “creating goals you’ll actually achieve this year” includes time-management and self-care strategies for the busy working mom.
How To Manage Your Time & Get More Done (YouTube: 55 Min) — How do you achieve the goals you want while managing a busy schedule? Is it possible to be more productive within the time you have? In this whiteboard session, Chris Do, Founder and CEO of “The Futur” shares what he does to get more stuff done.
Work Smarter Not Harder (Coursera: Free) — In this course, you will gain and apply your knowledge and understanding of personal and professional awareness. Learn from Margaret Meloni, Ph.D. as she illustrates tools, methods, and techniques for goal setting to overcome time management challenges and enhance productivity.
The goal of this article is to help you find the thing that refuels you and does not feel like work. Set yourself up for success by researching your topics, taking a foundational knowledge course, and using productivity tools to stay on track. Make a 30-day challenge to fail fast and not waste time. Update your list often and try new ideas if you have not found something you enjoy. Focusing on your passions, interests, or any activity that stimulates your mind aids in fostering learning, growth, and mental health.
Please let me know if you are working on your passion project and how you did it!