How to Avoid Burnout When Pursuing Your Passion Project

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I like to think of passion projects like a steamy love affair. Personally, I’ve only seen these love triangles on TV, but as a writer, I’m known to use my imagination. I have had, however, plenty of projects outside of my “regular” job that have kept me up at night.

Maybe you’re working on something like this right now. Whether it’s a clothing line, your personal brand or an app—you know as well as I do: passion projects can be next-level exhausting sometimes. After all, there’s only so much space in our brains, so often we feel like we’re cheating on our day jobs when we’re daydreaming about making our first big paycheck from our side hustles.

At first, passion projects—much like my imagined love affairs—are fiery and exciting. In fact, you can’t keep your hands off the new idea. You’ll squeeze a few minutes of writing your new novel at a stoplight, ask everyone you know for research feedback—and you feel more alive than ever before. Then, slowly, the realness of the project sets in, and the passion you felt now feels like fading gaps of progress.

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So, What do we do when we know our passion project is something that matters to us but is also totally overwhelming us? First, we get real. Let’s walk through a few meditative ideas together.

1. Remember your why.

Take a few minutes to remember why you started the project in the first place. Was it for money or love? (There I go again with my love examples.) By re-identifying with your original head-over-heels feeling, you can re-engage your ideas and your spark.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did I hope to achieve when I started this project?
  • Who will I have to become to finish it?
  • Who will benefit from the completion of my project?

Once you’ve gotten clear on why this matters, develop a why statement. Lipstick it on your mirror, add it to the Reminders App on your phone, or make a vision board. This will keep you fueled to make a difference.

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2. Contemplate who’s on your team.

Take a moment to be grateful to the friends and family that have been cheering you on so far. Next, buckle up and get ready to ask for some help. Though it may take longer to see your finished result, you will save yourself heartache and exhaustion if you allow others in on the ride.

Ask yourself:

  • Who would learn from helping me with this?
  • Is there an internship program that could benefit from my leadership and experience?
  • What’s holding me back from asking for help?

3. Schedule your time wisely.

Though it may take longer to see your finished project’s name in lights, by working in smart short blocks, you will keep yourself motivated with incremental progress reports. Twenty minutes of uninterrupted time is worth so much more than two hours at your laptop in front of the TV.

As you look at your week ahead, pick a few times that you can work on your project with 100 percent (okay, at least 75 percent) focus.

During these times:

  • Eliminate distractions such as Facebook, Instagram, and your phone. Turn off your WiFi if you can, and keep only the tabs necessary for the task at hand open at once.
  • Get out of the office or the house and into an inspirational place—check out the bookstore, a wine bar, or even treat yourself during your lunch break. Just as you’d mix up your relationship—mix up your work dates as well.
  • Pick a realistic time frame to review your progress and create an action plan for each week. For example: if you know Saturdays are particularly hectic in your household, get up before everyone else on Sunday and make your action plans.

It’s my hope that these introspective ideas will give you the energy and passion you need to turn your fiery romantic passion project into a long-term thing. Remember: the world is waiting for the amazing passion project you’re cooking up—so keep going for the women and men you’ll affect. You never know who you’re inspiring during your chase.

Gabi Garrett

Gabi Garrett is a content-strategist, yoga teacher, and leader of 'rebel dreamers'. She helps entrepreneurs and creators soar with her writing skill-set by day, and encourages others to chase their dreams by night. She offers a six-week email course that teaches participants how to define and make space for their dreams (& beat the fears that come with them), called Go After It and recently published an e-book, called Kicked Out of Therapy.

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