AS 2015 came to a close, I was in my bedroom, watching fireworks in the sky. Scrolling through Facebook, I came across multiple posts about New Year’s resolutions my friends were committing to for 2016.
While it’s hard to keep resolutions throughout the whole year, I’m a big believer in choosing one passion project every new year that you will constantly work on and commit to, whether it’s a blog, a mini-business, a YouTube channel, an organization, or learning a new skill or language.
But how do you get started on your passion project? Here are a few lessons and insights from my own experience.
1) Choose something that interests and excites you.
Back in January 2013, when I first started blogging, I decided to write about things I was excited about, whether personal experiences or events I attended. This helped me stay on track with my goal of blogging at least once a week that year.
2) Learn something new.
Passion projects are a great opportunity to learn something new. Choose something you want to learn, then just dive in.
I wanted to learn how to launch a startup company, so during the summer of 2014, I ended up trying to start a youth media website called Global Youth Journal and organizing a youth startup and entrepreneurship event called YouthHack Manila.
I was excited because I was learning many new things, whether it was starting a website, managing contributing writers, working with partners and sponsors, or organizing big events.
3) Meet like-minded people.
A great way to start a passion project, keep yourself on track and learn at a faster rate is by meeting like-minded people who are interested in whatever you are pursuing. When we were first starting YouthHack, we went out of our way to look for people in the startup space. We started attending startup conferences and cold e-mailing entrepreneurs to set up coffee chats with them.
4) Find friends who can keep you accountable.
It’s important to find friends or a community of people who will keep you accountable. If you know a friend who is also interested in the same thing, ask him to join you in your passion project. It just helps make things a lot less lonely and a lot more exciting.
5) Find mentors you can learn from.
More than just finding a peer who can keep you accountable, a lot of times it’s also good to have a mentor you can reach out to when you have questions or concerns. You will face a lot of roadblocks along the way, so having a mentor you can go to for support goes a long way.
From my experience with YouthHack, we had several mentors who have helped us, whether at the start, when we needed help with our programs, or recently, when we needed advice on how to scale.
6) Be consistent and don’t give up.
One of the most important things when it comes to passion projects, New Year’s resolutions or starting something in general is being consistent. Make sure you take baby steps each day and never stop working toward your goals.
While there will be a lot of challenges you will face along the way, just keep pushing on, because once you’ve hit your goal, it will be worth it.
7) Be open to the possibilities, because you just never know.
I was never really a big fan of writing when I was in school. However, when I started blogging, I discovered my passion for storytelling and writing online. Since I started blogging in 2013, I’ve gone on to write for online publications like the Huffington Post and Inc. magazine. If you asked me three years ago if I thought I’d be writing for these publications, I would’ve told you, “You’re crazy.”
On the same note, when I first started YouthHack back in 2014, I wasn’t exactly sure if we would even be able to pull off our first event, given that I didn’t really have much experience organizing events. But we still went with it anyway. Fast-forward two years later, and YouthHack has grown into an international organization, and has taught me so much in the process.
While it won’t be that easy to work on your passion project and get it kick-started, I assure you it will be worth it, and if you persevere and stick to it long enough, you just never know how far your it can take you.
Make 2016 the year of growth, new experiences and exciting days.
David is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying Cognitive Science. Two years ago, David started YouthHack, a nonprofit organization, with the goal of helping students learn more about startups, technology and entrepreneurship. You can learn more about it on www.youthhack.net.