35 Passion Project Ideas to Focus On in Your Spare Time
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Are you feeling stuck? Like you’re treading in water, flapping around but not really going anywhere? If so, you’re not alone.
Many people can feel frustrated, stuck, and ultimately unfulfilled when they get trapped in a basic work-life routine. One great way to free yourself from that basic routine of go to work/go home/ go to sleep/start over is by taking on a passion project.
In this article, we will explore the concept of passion projects and then you will discover 35 ideas to help you get started. But first, let’s begin with a simple definition.
What You Will Learn
What Are Passion Projects?
Passion projects are projects that inspire you; projects that push you to explore your inner creativity and personality.
It is important to note that passion projects aren’t hobbies nor should they be approached as some type of side income. Do not look for a passion project to free you from your current work set-up because the moment you transition a passion project from being fun and pursued solely for your own enjoyment in it is the moment many find that their passion in it will die.
Instead, passion projects are projects that people should get into solely because they love how it makes them feel and how it inspires them to tap into something bigger inside themselves.
Need some help finding a type of passion project for you to pursue? Consider the following guide of 35 fantastic passion project ideas:
35 Passion Project Ideas to Pursue
Creative Writing Passion Projects
1. Start writing short stories or fan fiction. You don’t have to be a published author to get enjoyment out of creative writing. Writing short stories about characters you love, such as fan fiction, is a great way to get your creative juices going. Plus, this type of writing has a great online community in which you can get involved in. If you ever find yourself drawn to write that great American novel, your practice in smaller works will give you critical experience, insight, and inspiration.
2. Become a reviewer for something you love. Do you love visiting local restaurants? Getting your dogs cute toys and custom treats? Or do you have children with whom you want to experience more of your city? Whatever the case, combine that which you already do (eating, shopping, traveling) and start reviewing. Create an online blog to share with others or make a personal journal or scrapbook. You can also do both, keep your private thoughts somewhere but also share via an online review site like Yelp.
3. Learn calligraphy and make every future card and present personal. This is a small creative writing passion project, but a project nonetheless. Calligraphy is a gorgeous written art form and a great side project for those who love writing and gift-giving.
4. Engage in letter-writing campaigns. If you love writing but wish you could do something more meaningful with it, consider engaging in letter-writing campaigns. No matter what you are interested in or passionate about, letter-writing campaigns are an effective grassroots type of advocacy that can be highly effective. This type of passion project is great for fueling frustration you might have about big issues that would otherwise seem too big to tackle.
5. Create your own zine. While zines are mostly connected with ’90s and ’00s youth culture, they are still popular, and they can be created by anyone of any age. Your zine can be about anything you like. You can do a DIY zine about how to fish and cook those fish you catch, you can do a travel zine featuring your favorite places to travel, you can vent and use your zine as a place to talk about the craziness of your workplace. The world is your oyster. When you’re done, keep it as your own personal book or send them out.
In Your Backyard Passion Projects
6. Redesign your landscape. Landscape design is a fun and creative venture that has the big benefit of leaving you with a gorgeous and possibly more functional backyard once you’re done with it. But don’t just jump into tearing up your grass. See this as a project to become well-versed in landscape design. Take an in-person course on gardening at your local garden shop, read books about landscape design, volunteer with relevant groups to hone your skills, and really get an idea of how best to redesign your backyard landscape.
7. Attract bees, birds, and butterflies. It’s no secret that pollinators are in trouble. Consider taking on a passion project to invite bees, birds, and butterflies both to your backyard and your neighborhood. This type of project will often merge with the above landscape redesign project as you look to create homes and spaces for such animals to live and thrive in.
8. Start a community garden. Don’t have a lot of space in your own backyard for plants and butterfly features? Why not share your interest and passion of gardening with others by starting a community garden? A cooperative garden is a great passion project for those who are outgoing and want more personal connections with their neighbors. That’s because community gardens have a way of becoming multi-purposeful places in which people naturally congregate for events big and small.
9. Train a pup for competition. Agility courses, nose work, diving dogs — all of these are great areas of competition in which to train a dog. Taking on a puppy, whether you choose a rescue or go to a breeder, and training them to excel in some type of competition will come with its risks (you have to find or hope for the right personality) but this type of long-term human-animal partnership is a fantastic passion project. When you really build up that relationship with your furry pal, you’ll find that there really is nothing like the bond between a man and man’s best friend. Plus, going to competitions is a great way to meet new people and new places. Live in the city and think you’re limited? Check out ratting in NYC (disclaimer, not for the squeamish).
10. Hold workshops. If you have an activity you already love, then what about taking on as a passion project a mission to share that activity? Hosting a series of workshops in your own backyard or at some other venue is a great way to really unleash that creativity, get connected with other people, and even learn something about yourself. After all, they say the best way to learn something is to teach it.
11. Raise your own food. And we’re not just talking about a basic garden here. Check your local ordinances and see what they allow in terms of other types of food raising. Can you have chickens so as to have your own eggs? What about raising rabbits or ducks as an alternative source of meat? Raising your own food is a hard but very rewarding passion project as better understanding where one’s food comes from and what it takes to get it from farm to plate will go a long way in making one more empathetic and ecologically-conscious.
Health and Wellness Passion Projects
12. Train for a marathon. Running marathons has become exceptionally popular in recent years thanks to it being such a low-cost activity that is available to anyone, anywhere. All you need is a good pair of running shoes to get started. Training for a marathon is a great health passion project as it encourages one to work on their overall endurance and to get outside exercise every week. Then, at the end, you’ll be rewarded with that big marathon run.
13. Launch a fitness or nutrition YouTube. Two of the biggest sub-niches on YouTube are exercise and nutrition videos. While yes, this means there are a lot of videos already out there, it also means there are a lot of people eager to see new and alternative takes on the best fitness and nutrition recommendations. If you enjoy giving advice or you think you have a killer routine, then why not share it with the world via YouTube? You can also start by following already successful influencers and making yourself the first paradigm of health and wellness.
14. Become a fitness instructor, such as a yoga instructor. While yes, you do have to be reasonably fit to be a yoga instructor, you can become an instructor with relative ease so long as you dedicate yourself to it. Check online for local classes and yoga studios that offer teacher training you can do in your off-hours. Train and get your certification and then share that passion and experience with others.
15. Train and take on a long-distance hike. Hate running but love the outdoors? What about training for a world-class long-distance hike? Hiking one of these ultimate scenic trails is a fantastic passion project to take on — and it certainly is a project. You will need to work up your endurance on hikes and do experiments on short hikes to make sure you know how much you’re willing and capable to carry for an enjoyable camping experience. This all takes time, but time well spent as you work towards your dream hiking adventure.
16. Plan an overnight boating adventure. Another alternative is to get into boating, which has the big advantage over hiking of having the water vehicle carry all your gear instead of your back. Plus, there are so many different types of boats to look at as you consider where you want your passion project to take you. Kayaks and canoes are fantastic boats for rivers and lakes and there are a great number of outfitters that can get you started with overnight boating adventures for just a small fee. You might also look at sailboats and sailing around local bays and similar waterways.
Crafting Passion Projects
17. Take up knitting or crocheting. Knitting and similar needlework crafts are seeing a resurgence in popularity by people of all ages thanks to its usefulness and versatility. When you know how to knit, you can knit anywhere. Waiting for jury duty, relaxing while your partner watches their favorite television show, and when meeting up with friends at a barbecue. It’s a craft that keeps your hands busy but still gives you the presence of mind to converse and talk with others. Best of all, you have something at the end of it to show off. Watch some tutorials, grab some yarn, and join a Stitch N’ Bitch group to get started.
18. Take actual craft courses like pottery classes. Ceramic pottery is a timeless art form and another great craft that gives you something really useful at the end of it. This, however, isn’t a passion project you typically can start on your own because of the expensive equipment involved. So check your local community colleges and art groups to join a pottery class and get started.
19. Refurbish old and vintage furniture. If you have a good aesthetic eye, are handy with tools, and have the right equipment, then maybe a good passion project is taking old furniture and either refurbishing it or transforming it into something new. This is a great passion project to fill out your home and is one of the rare examples of a passion project that can turn a nice penny if you are gifted enough.
20. Upcycle old clothes. Furniture isn’t the only thing that often goes out of date and out of care. If you’re handing with a sewing machine or have always wanted to become handy with a sewing machine, then consider a passion project revolving around upcycling old and thrift store-bought clothes.
21. Take up painting or become a model for others. There are so, so, so many fantastic resources for those who want to get started painting. And painting is one of those passion projects that you can take anywhere and do anything with. For example, you might prioritize painting all of the clock towers in your state and then making your own little book about it. That’s a fantastic goal to have as part of a painting passion project.
22. Take up a big woodworking project. Woodworking is a fantastic niche in which to develop your own passion project goals. For example, consider aiming to build your own tiny sailboat or canoe within two years or so. To get started, you will first have to learn how to use and be comfortable with all manner of tools and slowly, but surely build up your skill levels.
More Cerebral Passion Projects.
23. Commit to reading X books a week or month and review/post/share them. Reading is another act in which the more you do it, the more empathetic you can become, thereby making you into a better person. The problem is that too many people get too distracted in today’s ever-hectic world. Making reading your passion project by setting out strict reading goals and then choosing some manner in which to share that which you’ve read. Such as with a book review newsletter, podcast, or blog. You might even start a book club to encourage others to get on the same page.
24. Take on a research project and follow through with something like writing a biography or historical book. You don’t have to be an academic, published author, or working historian, sociologist, or economist to take on a research project. If there is something that interests you — a person, a historic place, or even a societal event or question — tackle it. Make your interest the subject of a research project for which you gather information. Go to your local library, interview subjects, visit places. Gather as much information as you can and then create a podcast, film, or book in which you explain your findings and interpretation of the results.
25. Tackle a scientific quandary. Just because you failed physics in high school doesn’t mean you have to give up on it altogether. The best passion projects are those in which you challenge yourself to overcome your previous limitations. Check out this list of fantastic educational channels and consider what scientific avenues you wish you knew more about, then go follow that passion.
26. Put together your ancestry. Did you really have fun putting together your family tree in grade school? Consider then making putting together a fully fleshed-out family history. 23andMe and similar sites are great resources for getting you more information about your ancestors and the events that transpired to bring you where you are today.
27. Learn how to code and then build something via code. Coding is a fantastic skill and one that really encourages problem-solving and creative thinking. But perhaps best of all, once you know how to code, then you can create. You can create your own app, game, or other item as part of a master passion project.
28. Learn a secondary language and make it a mission to volunteer or visit the country where that language is spoken. If you love traveling, then this type of passion project is one that will fulfill personal and societal goals. Learning a new language can be challenging but it offers opportunities to engage with new people in new ways. If you choose to go for a new language, we recommend making the overall passion project a more physical goal, like going to that language’s country of origin and volunteering or traveling in order to make real use out of your education.
Other Great Passion Projects
29. Join a birding group and go for a Big Year. Birding is a great hobby that takes one out into nature to see wildlife in its natural environment. But birding is an activity that can be so much more than just a hobby. Check out the film The Big Year and, if it piques your interest, consider undergoing your own “big year” as a passion project.
30. Organize bicycle rides in your neighborhood. Riding bikes is one of the greatest activities one can do. You get exercise, efficient means of travel, and easy ability to talk while traveling. If you love riding bikes, then consider taking that passion to the next level by committing yourself to share that passion via group bike rides.
31. Look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint. If you wish you were more environmentally-friendly, then make reducing your carbon footprint via things like nixing plastic bags as your passion project.
32. Grab your friends, family, or just yourself and make a film. A documentary about your shared hobby or a funny film sketch about that last time you went on vacation. When you make a film, the important thing is thinking about what you loved most about activity and finding the right way to share that with others.
33. Run for a local office. This one will require you to get pretty involved, but if you’re tired of watching how your city or neighborhood operates, then take a more involved stance. Run for public office and help make those changes you so desire.
34. Start a nonprofit. Not all changes can be done politically. If you see a need in your community that can be best done via service, volunteer hours, or donations, then consider starting a nonprofit and working towards making those changes happen.
35. Make finding a passion project, your passion project. Still not inspired? Then how about creating a podcast series about you trying to find that passion project. Experiment with different hobbies, talk to other people about what makes them the happiest, and investigate your own skills to see what project would best suit you.
Final Thoughts on Passion Project ideas
As you can see, there are so many fantastic activities and events that you can take on as a passion project. The big thing to keep in mind that where hobbies are often small activities, a passion project should have an ultimate goal; a big event or a way in which you share your knowledge with others.
If you have some other great passion project ideas other than the ones we have listed, please share them in the comments!
Finally, if you want to develop a skill-based passion project, then check out this article on 101 skills you can learn in your free time.