Working on your project

I know how difficult it can be to keep working on your project when there are many other claims on your time. Like anything else in life it comes down to deciding to commit to doing the work on a regular basis. Procrastination and doubts can suck the energy out of any new project, so it is vital to do some work every day. Think back to Girl Scout days and how you were taught to build a fire. Think of your daily work as blowing gently on the tiny flames amongst kindling, giving them the oxygen needed to become a fully-fledged fire that you can then use for heat or cooking.

From experience, committing to working on your project makes it easier to show up every day and do something. You don’t have to commit to spending hours each day, but find something you can commit to that doesn’t feel too daunting. Some people use 21 days as a goal, as in 21 days doing the same thing each day becomes a habit, which makes it easier to continue beyond that deadline. Others suggest committing to a specific amount of work, such as writing 1,000 words every day. Only you know what feels doable, what you aren’t going to resist doing and then stop doing, so don’t set your goals too high. Even  a small amount of work each day over a period of time builds up into something larger.

For example, I have been wanting to learn how to paint with watercolors for some time, but never made time to take classes – or even watch online videos. About five weeks ago I saw that there was a 100 day challenge about to start. Since the end product had to be posted on Instagram it was clearly directed at arty types, and as I wandered through the postings about the project, I realized this was the way I was going to learn watercolor painting. I decided to set my expectation bar low and committed to creating a watercolor flower painting on a 6″ square piece of watercolor paper every day for 100 days. I bought a book to show me some basic techniques and have scoured Pinterest for inspiration. I completed the 100 days, and while the results of my work were mixed, it was something I look forward to doing each day. I have managed to trick my monkey brain into learning watercolor painting by committing to just 15 minutes of activity each day!

So now it is time for you to commit to working on your project. Will you work on it for 90 minutes for 90 days or for an hour a day for a month? The choice is yours, but I definitely found that having a commitment help me keep going. Will you do something small for a longer period of time, like the 100 Day Project? I found it made me accountable having to put my work up on Instagram each day. I found a bunch of people who followed me on Instagram and Facebook who encouraged and supported my efforts, which was very humbling, and yet very satisfying – even on days when I was less than thrilled with my art. It is too easy when the commitment is only internal to renege on it, thinking no one else knows or cares if you show up and work on your passion project!

Encore Careers

As I learn more about passion projects as encore careers, I was intrigued by this article I came across in the Concord Monitor. The headline reads: “More older Americans starting their own businesses to supplement incomes, pursue passion projects”. This wasn’t because the story wasn’t meaningful, because it is always affirming to read about other people who have come to this conclusion. What intrigues me is that working out what to do with the second half of your life is still considered newsworthy and/or exceptional.

For several generations now, women have had the time, education, energy and resources to build their post children/first career lives. With the average life expectancy of women to be approaching 90, it makes great sense for us to build on the knowledge we’ve gained, and turn it into something that benefits us. I also find it interesting that from this decision, many people choose to go into ‘softer’ fields, dispensing information and advice, as well as turning a hobby into a source of income.

What is also fascinating is that Boomers are apparently using skills learned from their WWII parents to find ways to turn a need for retirement funds into an opportunity for themselves. There are many reasons why retirement funds are no longer adequate, but the good news is that a shortfall is proving to be a great motivator for people to use their ingenuity and knowledge to build not only work, but a life that is satisfying.

I am thrilled that people are being credited for the effort it takes to build their own Passion Project businesses, and it is wonderful that there are organizations both on and offline to help. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if taking what you know and love and creating an income form it became the norm? An option given to you as you leave the corporate world? Maybe soon instead of asking one another, “What do you do?” we will be asking, “What are you planning to do next?

With the recent recession and slow economic return, many of us are looking at encore careers – that is, working far beyond the usual retirement age of 65. For some this means staying in a job for a few more years, but for others an encore career can be the opportunity to start work on a project that has been waiting in the wings for many years.

An article by CNBC shows that encore careers are a surprisingly common scenario among Boomers, with long lost passions bubbling up to the surface or the opportunity to use skills that have been honed over many years to help others. As Boomers have long been seen as a generation that has done things their own way, this trend towards successive careers is in some ways an inevitability!

I have been thrilled to be able to help many Boomers get their encore careers moving forwards. Often getting a website is seen as a huge hurdle, but after listening to goals, hopes and fears, have been able to get a number of Boomers relaunched – and delighted to find that they are perfectly capable of adding things to their sites and maintaining a social media presence.

Maybe I could help you too? Get in touch, and lets talk!

What is a Passion Project?

What is a Passion Project?

While “Passion Project” has become one of those phrases that are frequently thrown around, at its heart I think of it as being something you really want to do. It is probably something you have really wanted to do for a long time, taking the idea out and looking at it longingly on vacations, then tucking it away again as you return to your usual life. Equally, it could be a skill you have perfected over many years, but done for someone else. You found clever ways of simplifying it, or making it easier to teach, and would like to continue to pass that extra knowledge on to others.

For some people their Passion Project might surprise them when it appears. People who have been working on a project in the evenings and at weekends, just waiting for the ‘right’ time for it to come out of the dark, and into the light. For example, the graphic design magazine, How, recently ran a series of stories of graphic designers whose evening projects became so profitable, they were able to give up their day jobs to pursue these projects full time.

While for many a Passion Project grows once retirement is imminent, or has already happened, I’ve also found that Passion Projects can spring up unexpectedly. After discovering that ageism was rampant in the workforce, I started to blog about the areas of my life where I felt people over 40 were better able to perform. Week after week I posted on topics that intrigued and interested me, and when I ran to a natural stopping point with the idea, I wondered what to do with all my writing. I stumbled upon a webinar that encouraged people to self-publish, so with nothing to lose and a copy of InDesign on my laptop, I set about editing and arranging my posts, then published the book and the Kindle version of it. I’d always harbored a desire to write a book, and suddenly I found that I had done so!

There is also a lot of psychodrama about finding your “Passion” which makes it seem much more complicated than it needs to be. If there is something you are itching to get to work on, that is your passion. It may be a love of gardening or photography, and you are happy to do it as much as you can around your job, and that it is simply a process that brings you pleasure. I’m sure many generations have survived on having a hobby, but “Passion Project” sounds much more exotic!