Ignite Your Passion in the New Year

Happiness and Excitement

No, not that kind of passion. I’m talking about projects that are related to work, but are things you love so much that they don’t feel like work. Working on these projects makes you feel energized, excited and yes, passionate, about what you do. Such projects might be in your day job, a side project or a hobby.

It can be too easy to slip into the daily routine of work and the rest of your life without thinking about what you love to do. The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on what you really want to be doing.

Here are a few suggestions for finding ways to do what you love, and still pay the bills.

Reflect

Before you do anything else, consider what you are passionate about. Think back over the past few months.

  • Which projects were you excited to be working on? These are the projects you wanted to work on late into the night — not because you needed to meet a deadline, but because they were so much fun and interesting that you couldn’t put them down.
  • Which projects left you feeling energized and excited?
  • What was it about the projects that you loved? Were you excited about the data, the technology, the writing, the analysis or some other aspect?

Once you figure out what you love, the next step is to decide how to do more such projects, and reduce the amount time you spend on work that leaves you exhausted and drained.

Rework the Current Gig

If you already have a great job, but spend too much time on work that isn’t interesting, you can often redefine your job over time to end up with a job that you are passionate about. Volunteer to take on a special project that really interests you, and see if you can make it into a full-time job. I work with someone who loves organizing events. She arranged several events as side projects, and when the team grew, she was able to convince management to make events her full-time job.

You can also look for new opportunities within your company, and change jobs to do something more interesting. If you think there’s a need for a role that doesn’t exist, build a case for it based on real data. Convince management that someone needs to fill this role, and that you are the perfect person to fill it.

Have Side Projects

Side projects can be tricky to balance. On the one hand, they can give you something fun to work on that you can control. But too many of them can leave you drained, and steal your focus from other important work or relationships. For me, the best side projects are ones where I don’t care if I make money. If I need the money, such projects become more like work and less like play.

I tend to launch random, fun websites where I can practice my skills while creating something a few friends will enjoy. Over the holidays, I started working on a vegan cookbook. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I know it’s the right project because I have been working on it constantly over the past few days and looking forward to the work. Eventually, I’ll get to build another website for the book.

Make the Leap

If you’re really unhappy in your current job or freelance situation, take advantage of an economy that is starting to rebound. Now is a good time to:

  • Build new skills,
  • Start working on different types of projects,
  • Look for another job, or
  • Make the shift to consulting or freelancing.

Take a fresh look at what you really love to do, and consider all the options.

What projects ignite your passion? Share how you have been able to find work that keeps you excited and energized.

Photo by Flickr user Marcy Kellar used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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