These days, almost everybody has a side hustle. And while there are some compelling reasons why you’d want to start one yourself (that isn’t just money), I’d also argue that not all passion projects need to be turned into some kind of side business.
Sometimes you just need a good ol’ passion project to stay a passion project. So before you throw in the towel on your passion project just because it doesn’t earn you any money, let me tell you why you’d do better hanging on to it instead.
I’m sure that whatever you’re doing – finishing your college degree or working your full-time job – you’re really good at it. But why be content with just one thing?
You might be a great salesman. And that’s fantastic. But you might also have stashed your piano skills in the backburner after starting your job, and now you feel the ghost of those piano keys haunting the back of your mind.
Even people working their dream jobs might not be doing everything they want to be doing. A freelance writer could be living the dream, working with dream clients and doing the kind of work that gets her up in the morning. Still, maybe she also wants to keep up her crocheting habit too, knowing she doesn’t need to turn this hobby into a business.
Some folks are lucky, poring at jobs that fit into their interests. But others? Not quite.
A passion project is one of those ways you can keep your skills up, especially if it’s something you might not be doing for university classes or a full-time job.
Aside from being a way to keep your other skills sharp, just working on a passion project can help release some unwanted stress.
Research has shown that hobbies, like exercise, can stimulate the brain, leading to a happier, healthier life. You can thank dopamine and endorphins for that – and you can thank your passion project for providing said dopamine and endorphins.
Next time you work on that passion project, ditch the distractions. Totally immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing, be it a dance, new art, singing, or training your dog to do tricks.
Over time, you’ll find that some benefits to keeping your passion project can help you cope better with stress, gain more focus, and make new connections.
Before you find yourself reaching for your phone to mindlessly go through friends’ Instagram Stories, stop. And do that passion project.
Look, I’m no stranger to the Netflix trap. I myself have wasted an entire weekend binging Modern Family (and then some).
And am I proud of it? No.
If you’re blessed to have a lot of free time on your hands, put that time to good use. Aside from doing productive, career-propelling tasks, why not work on your passion project for a few hours?
And even if you say you don’t have a lot of free time, take a few minutes to review how you spend that time. Are you scrolling through Facebook until – what do you know, an hour goes by!
I (and a lot of other people) will argue instead that passion projects can help you manage your time better. When you commit to spending an hour or two a day for this project, you move your schedule around to accommodate it.
That means less time doing mindless, unproductive things. Wouldn’t you rather be spending your time doing something that matters to you instead of scrolling through your feed, wondering why other people seem to be doing such cool things with their lives and you’re not?
Work hard at that passion project enough, and you might just open a whole new world of possibilities for yourself.
For example, my hobby all through high school and college was dancing. I never made any money from dancing for years, but none of that bothered me.
Until one day, I was being offered performance gigs – some even being paid gigs. All because I’d worked hard and gotten really good at what I loved. Eventually I landed a short commercial, participated in a flashmob for a Broadway, and even became a part-time ballet teacher.
I’m just saying, my friend: you’d be surprised where your passion projects and hobbies can take you.
If I’m being honest, I look back fondly at those times when I just did passion projects for passion projects’ sake.
Nothing compares to the feeling of flow (I’m borrowing this term from psychologist Milahy Csikzentmihalyi) when you’re doing that passion project.
You know that feeling? Being totally immersed in what you’re doing that you don’t even realize the time, the effort, the energy you’re expending?
I live for being in flow; in fact, if you allow me to be candid, I’m writing this entire blog post in the state of flow.
Passion projects don’t need to pay for themselves for them to be worth doing. If they improve your life just a little bit – just a tiny bit – then I say keep doing them.
This article originally appeared on mindofmica.com.