When we’re young, we’re taught to be curious, creative, and confident. Before we “choose” a path, we’re all budding scientists, artists, and innovators. This doesn’t need to end just because you’ve started your career.
In our first year post-graduation, we’ve both been fortunate to have started careers in successful companies that fall within our respective industries. We studied hard, worked hard, and now we’re left dealing with “life” once 5 p.m. hits. That’s why we’ve become advocates for what we call the “creativity happy hour” — the time spent pursuing passion projects in the other 40 hours outside of work.
What’s in a passion project?
Passion projects focus on something you’re excited about outside of your day job. It’s something you do just because you want to; whether it allows you to unleash your creativity, give back to the community, or embrace change. The best part is: it’s all done through the guidelines you identify, because you’re really doing this work for one person — yourself.
We pursue passion projects purely because it makes us happier human beings. The development of this mindset is exactly what has helped push us forward in both our personal and professional lives. A passion project close to our hearts is Studio Bud — a creative initiative that uses the power of play to foster blue-sky ideation between Gen Z youth and organizations. The result? Empowering the next generation of creative leaders, while uncovering authentic Gen Z-inspired solutions to real-world challenges. You see, in our own passion projects, we owe our continued energy to this “creativity happy hour.”
Build creative confidence and foster curiosity
Passion projects are inherently about exploring something you’re interested in, regardless of the existing constraints of corporate, industry, or client norms. These projects allow you to take all of the creative risk in embracing and exploring the unknown. Due to this, they build a comfort in ambiguity, because the project is purely dictated by you and the direction you set, which can pivot. By having complete control, passion projects give you complete confidence to explore blue-sky ideas. After all, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Fail and learn (safely)
When you take risks, you inherently set yourself up to fail — and that’s okay. Failing means you’re about to learn something great. Your own ambition is solely what constrains your passion projects, so really, what’s the worst that can happen? The environment you find yourself in often functions as a 150% safe atmosphere for embracing a fail-fast mentality. Passion projects protect and encourage this.
Keep thinking like a weirdo!
As millennials, we owe our successes to how we think like weirdos. We see it as a positive — being weird means you’re interesting and offer a perspective from outside the box. In some ways, as a student, you’re moulded to think a certain way and to obtain skills that will get you a specific career. Having a passion for something else gives you just that much more to talk about! Are you a sociologist with a passion for cooking? An engineer with an artistic thumb? Own an identity that extends beyond the 9–5, or even your “career path,” and you’ll be rewarded in the workplace.
It’s insanely satisfying to pour your heart and soul into a project that’s just for you and your peers, and is purely for fun. (It can be just as fun as binge-watching Game of Thrones!)
As recent grads, our biggest advice is always to keep feeding your curiosity, which we do through passion projects. That time in the “creativity happy hour” can not only be fulfilling on a personal level, but help keep your career moving and growing from a very early stage.
Published: May 5, 2017
** Originally published for the Ryerson University Alumni Blog, and co-written by Marijana Miric, this article preaches the value of passion projects in any post-grad life, speaking of our own passion project: Studio Bud.