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Officially, the dictionary definition of a “passion project” is an activity or enterprise that you decide to take on – usually in your spare time – in order to benefit or validate yourself in some way.
But, I like to think of it as a collection of steps we take towards filling a void in our life.
Life is too short to live with regrets. Or to ask yourself, “what could have been?”.
Each of us has the power to change our course.
Quiet your mind and picture what matters most to you… who or what inspires you.
And then commit to it.
That is where your passion project begins.
There are many benefits to starting a passion project. Among them are:
- Discovering your happy place
- Spark creativity
- Have fun
- Find meaning and purpose
- Nurture your talents
- Push your limits, step out of your comfort zone
- Learn something new
- Build a portfolio
- Earn a side living
Sounds good, right?
So, what are you waiting for?
In this article, I will offer 15 passion project ideas that are meant to inspire you… and potentially change your life.
There’s something for everyone. So keep reading until you find the one that will set you on your way to unlocking your full potential and realizing your dreams!
But before we proceed, if you're not up to doing a passion project and are simply looking for something to do to pass time, take a few minutes to watch this video:
1. Start a volunteer group, charity or nonprofit.
At one time or another, most people have suffered some kind of emotional or physical hardship in their life.
Perhaps it was a family member diagnosed with cancer.
Or a car accident that left you disabled and unable to continue working.
Maybe you grew up in a family where your parents needed to turn to a church or food pantry for help feeding you.
And if you were fortunate enough to escape challenges like these, maybe you are an avid reader and follow the news… sickened by the injustices going on in the world against people of different cultures, races, religions and genders.
There is a cause that speaks to every one of us… and charities that are doing their best to raise money and awareness. But there is also room for more.
Starting a volunteer group can be as easy as creating a page on social media.
A charity or nonprofit is a bit more involved, but is completely doable. You just need to do your research and devise a clear course of action.
Much like starting a business, you need to have a proposal of sorts. A plan.
Thirteen years ago, I formed a volunteer group. I posted on social media and community interest pages, which allowed me to gauge interest in the group.
My goal was to seek out all types of volunteer opportunities in our area and post them in one place, saving people the time of having to search multiple websites. We helped foster children, homeless, food banks and soup kitchens, planted gardens, held premature babies in the hospital.
In fact, I meant my husband at one of these events.
As we grew, we applied for nonprofit status. Registering your nonprofit for 501c3 status is a first step.
My advice… find what moves you and create a page. Then take it from there!
2. Train for a marathon.
Training for a marathon is as much about being mentally prepared, as it is physically.
Whether you’ve been running 5K’s for a while, or just starting out on your journey… there are mental barriers associated with 26.2 miles that can seem quite daunting.
But there is also a great feeling of accomplishment to gain, once you’ve achieved your goal.
If you want to make a marathon one of your passion projects, you should start by paying a visit to your primary doctor. Get checked out and make sure everything is good to go from that standpoint.
Next, try joining a local group or finding a running partner. Someone to make you accountable every step of the way. To help get you out the door when you feel like taking a day off.
Stretch! Always stretch to avoid injury.
Finally, you’ll need to engage support from family and friends. Start a social media campaign or blog and chronicle your journey from the beginning to race day.
If you’re running for a cause, share your fundraising page online.
A support system is so important… especially on days when your mind starts to doubt your body’s potential.
3. Write something.
It seems like anybody and everybody is an authority on something these days.
Whether they are grandstanding on their social media pages or commenting on blogs… most people have something to say. And everyone has an opinion.
But not everybody writes something worth reading.
If you are passionate about something, or feel you have great advice or wisdom to share with the world… consider writing as one of your passion projects.
There are many avenues to explore when trying to become a writer:
Some opportunities may turn into a satisfying freelance career, to supplement your regular income.
Others could turn you into a best selling author or television and film sensation.
You may eventually land a full-time job writing for a major publication.
Or, at the very least, your voice may be heard by people who matter… and can put your words into action in government.
Yes, writing can be a wonderful passion project on so many levels… whether you want to make it your living or not.
Writing is cathartic and powerful.
4. Start taking pictures.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
And it’s true.
Chronicling your life through photos can be an extremely healing experience.
Your pictures can also touch others in ways they’d never imagine… as your photos speak to something within them they didn’t know was there.
Whether you’d like to turn photography into a career, or a lifelong hobby, taking pictures of what moves you will give you a glimpse inside yourself.
Start by getting yourself a good camera and maybe some books on the topic. You can also take an online course.
You should also research professional photographers and study the work of those you feel inspired by.
Next, start shooting.
Take pictures of nature, people, places, objects, moments. If you feel moved by something, photograph it.
Upload them to a cloud storage service… but also be sure to have a physical photo album (or two) on hand to print and showcase your best work.
Start a portfolio.
Even if you don’t become a world class photographer, you’ll have something to look back on later in life… and relive those experiences that helped mold you.
5. Complete a home renovation project.
Home renovations can be extremely costly.
You can also make good money doing them for others… which is why some people choose to be contractors, landscapers, painters and interior designers for a living.
Not all success is attached to a college degree. Sometimes it just takes hard work and a drive to succeed.
Undertaking a home renovation as your passion project could result in the start of a new career path… or simply turn into one of those great accomplishments in life you can tell your kids about.
You can start by renovating a room or two in your house. If it requires plumbing or electrical work, you may want to consult with a professional, family member or friend who’s knowledgeable on this… if you’re a true novice.
Sure, you could watch a YouTube video… but electrical and plumbing mishaps are no joke if you’re not careful.
Painting, reupholstering furniture, laying tile or flooring… these are all good places to start when you want to try your hand at a DIY project.
Eventually, you may become quite the expert and realize your dream to purchase an old fixer upper… to either live in yourself or flip.
From there, the sky’s the limit!
6. Fix up an old car or motorcycle.
Remember those old movies with “greasers” under their hoods… changing oil and fixing carburetors? Those guys looked so cool.
And what about the motorcycle riders? Wind in their face… nothing but the open road and possibility ahead.
Buying and fixing up an old car or motorcycle is one of the coolest passion projects… and one you can even share with your child.
Talk about bonding!
Start by sifting through the classifieds or online ads and pick your dream car.
Then, study up on the basics by watching videos or reading books.
Talk to a mechanic at your local shop and clue them into what you’re working on… they may actually be interested in lending you a hand, or offering some guidance, in exchange for you buying some of the parts from them.
Most people innately want to help others, so never be afraid to ask for it. The worst they can say is “no”.
And, at the end of the day, your finished product won’t only be a blast to take out on the road… but something you can tell your kids about.
You may even want to gift it to one of them.
7. Become fluent in a second language.
There are so many advantages to learning a second language.
Among them are:
Let’s face it. Most of the world speaks English, either as a first or second language.
Next is Mandarin Chinese, according to most research.
Hindi, Spanish and French round out the top 5 list… but English is the clear winner.
Regardless of what language you’re interested in learning, there are opportunities to be had.
Whether you want to change careers, boost your resume, travel to a foreign country, increase your cognitive function or simply become more interesting to other people… becoming fluent in a second language is a passion project worth embarking on.
You can try an online course or app. Or sign up for a class at a local language school or community college.
8. Launch a YouTube channel.
If you have kids over age 5… there is a good chance they are obsessed with YouTube. I know mine are.
They will spend hours watching other kids play Minecraft and Roblox.
I don’t get it.
But what I do get is that the demand is there.
There is a YouTube Channel for almost anything and everything… and you can subscribe to it.
Long gone is the notion of celebrities being made on television. Today, celebrities now take the shape of internet sensations.
Whether you’re looking to be famous, or just heard, launching a YouTube Channel may just get you there.
Before getting started, just remember that you need to have a clear vision for what you want to broadcast.
This may involve writing scripts and purchasing the proper camera and sound equipment.
This passion project is a reflection of you… so you don’t want it to be second rate.
9. Start a podcast.
Podcasters are this generation’s radio disk jockeys.
The big difference is you don’t need to be hired by a station, or resort to pirate radio, to be heard.
Anybody can start a podcast… and say almost anything they want. I’m also pretty sure they aren’t censored the same way public broadcast stations are because they aren’t governed by the FCC.
And while the FTC does have rules podcasters should abide by, certain things most definitely fall through the cracks. Most of the laws have to do with you disclosing your partnership with affiliates or advertisers.
But for the most part, anything goes with podcasts.
So, on that note… how do you get started?
While there is some research you’ll need to do, the basics to getting going are these:
- Identify your message, content and target audience
- Decide on a format
- Invest in the right sound equipment
- Record and edit your first episode
- Find a hosting site
- Launch your podcast
If your podcast attracts a good number of followers, you can look into host services that allow you to solicit paid subscribers. Not all hosts, such as iTunes, allow you to charge listeners.
If you’re happy to offer your words free of charge, you may still attract enough fans to gain word of mouth with some of the “big guys” who may eventually hire you to broadcast on their behalf.
The potential is limitless.
So start by gaining a following on social media and go from there.
Wondering what podcasts are already out there? Check out our roundups:
- 37 Best Motivational Podcasts to Change Your Life
- 13 Best Productivity Podcasts to Get Things Done
- 21 Motivational Podcasts for Women
10. Open an online or brick and mortar store.
Ever dream of being your own boss?
Or have an idea or vision worthy of being sold in your own store?
It doesn’t have to be all theoretical.
It can become reality if you commit to this passion project, which is easier than ever today with the ability to do it online.
Obviously, you need to start by doing some market research to make sure there is a need for your particular service or product.
Next, consult with your accountant on which type of business structure makes the most sense for you financially. Your business structure affects how much you pay in taxes, your ability to raise money, the paperwork you need to file, and your personal liability.
You'll need to choose a business structure before you register your business with the state. Most businesses will also need to get a tax ID number and file for the appropriate licenses and permits.
Once you’ve done this, you can decide if you want to start out with an online business or physical location.
If online is the way you want to go, you’ll need to make sure you have a few things lined up before you can get started. Things like:
There is also the option of partnering with companies such as Amazon or WalMart to become an authorized seller.
A brick and mortar store requires rent or a mortgage to get yourself started; however, it may be worth the investment to have items that your customers can touch, see and feel.
It honestly depends on what it is you are selling.
And you’ll still need a website or social media page, at least.
Finally, you’ll need to figure out how much money you’ll need to get things going… and sustain your business until you start turning a profit. If you don’t have the means, you’ll need to seek investors or consider a small business loan.
Your accountant can likely help with this as well, if you aren’t financially savvy.
11. Film a documentary.
Whether you are looking to make a difference in the world, or are simply interested in something or someone, documentaries are a great way to share your message with others.
All you need to get started is a dSLR camera, editing software and subject matter.
You may want to consider taking an online course to walk you through the basics.
You’ll also need to check for any copyright issues and have people you’ll be shooting sign consent forms.
If you are planning to interview people, you’ll likely need to prepare some questions ahead of time.
And you’ll eventually need to write a script for any voiceover content after filming is done.
Documentary filmmaking can be an extremely rewarding experience… and is also a passion project that can be done in your spare time, like after work or on weekends.
12. Get certified to teach something.
Many people have considered teaching as a profession at one time or another in life.
Some types of teaching, however, don’t take place in a traditional classroom… and do not require a college degree.
Depending on the subject matter, getting certified to teach is a passion project that doesn’t have to be terribly time consuming or require going back to school.
Many times, it can be done online. Or within a certain number of hours in-person.
For instance, if you enjoy yoga so much that you think you may like to teach others… you can find guidance for becoming certified online.
Start by assessing your hobbies and interests… and decide if teaching any of them would make you happy. If so, start researching!
It’s honestly that simple.
13. Take up art – sculpt, paint, draw.
Art is healing or the soul.
It’s a perfect form of self-expression and there is no “wrong” way to create it.
It’s subjective and will be viewed differently by everyone.
If you’ve ever wondered if you could be, or are, an artist… why not give it a try?
Cue up some inspirational music and start doodling, sketching, exploring with paints and clay at home.
If you’re enjoying yourself, consider taking a class.
You can sign up for an art class at a local studio or take one online if you aren’t quite brave enough to express yourself around others just yet.
Some are free, some paid.
Either way it’s a small price to pay for a slice of happiness.
14. Run for local government.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
It’s a pretty famous quote, interpreted from something Mahatma Gandhi said, designed to encourage people not to complain about what others are doing… but instead fight for what they believe in.
Fight to make a difference.
And making the decision to run for local government can be just the passion project to get things done!
Local government positions take many forms.
Offices are typically broken up into two tiers, counties (or boroughs) and municipalities (or townships). Within these tears are different positions.
Generally speaking, county positions require an election and include:
Municipal positions include:
These are all good places to start if you’re considering a side gig, or possible career, in politics.
Even if that isn’t the case, running for local office is still a great way to speak up for those who can’t or won’t.
15. Become self-sustainable – garden, solar, wind.
History has taught us that nothing is forever, nor is it set in stone.
Inflation, deflation… crop and water shortages.
These things are often out of our control, especially if we have to rely on others.
Learning to become self-sustainable is a passion project that can let you literally reap the rewards that you sew.
You can start small and go as big as you’d like!
Plant a garden.
Get chickens for eggs or meat.
Invest in solar panels and wind turbines.
Learning to become more self-sustainable can be fun for the whole family… not to mention a way to teach your kids not to take everyday luxuries for granted, such as having food on the table.
Final Thoughts on Passion Projects that Can Inspire
Not all passion projects have to be big to be life changing.
We’ve covered a variety of ideas here… each designed to make your quality of life better in some way.
At the end of the day, being happy with where you are in life is really what living is all about.
If something no longer makes you feel content… change your situation.
It’s in your hands.
Now, if you feel like you need to do some more soul-searching before diving into passion projects, these articles might help:
- 11 Life Purpose Questionnaires & Quizzes to Take
- 12 Steps to Discover What is Your Why?
- 11 What is Your Why in Life Statement Examples
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications, and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization, and product reviews.