Pouring all your heart into your career feels empowering. You’re working hard towards your goal, you have a sense of purpose, your grit and optimism are driving you forward, and you know you’re on the right track. Ultimately, this redounds to entrepreneurial success.

That success requires sacrifice, naturally, but we need to ask ourselves: How much sacrifice? You’d be surprised to learn that many successful entrepreneurs sacrifice much less than you’d expect

Of course, it comes down to prioritizing. Some priorities, such as spending time with your family and maintaining your health, are so intuitive that you don’t even think twice about setting them.

But when it comes to personal passions prioritizing gets tough—mainly because high-achieving entrepreneurs don’t acknowledge them as priorities.

We’ve all been guilty of this, myself included. We perceive personal passions as little luxuries—things to pursue as a reward for hard work. We keep them on the back burner for long periods of time, putting ourselves in danger of abandoning them entirely.

But this is wrong. Here’s the truth: Personal passions and side projects should be on everyone’s list of priorities—especially entrepreneurs’. Here’s why:

Passion projects help you cultivate your identity

How would you describe yourself?

Even though your work might be amazing and complement your interests perfectly, you are not your work; the age-old cliché exists for a reason. And even if you’re a spectacular mom or dad, you’re not just a parent, either.

So what are you?

You are a collection of diverse interests, roles, and achievements. But your personal passions are perhaps some of the most defining elements of that complicated formula. They are, at their best, uninhibited reflections of your deepest passions, values, desires, and goals. They are an expression of your core, untainted by outside expectations, conventions, responsibilities, or pressure.

For all of these reasons, passion projects are critical to cementing an authentic self-identity.

And while cultivating your identity through passion projects helps you personally, it also furthers professional progress. With your unique and authentic self fully activated and engaged, you can be wholly present creatively at work. I can’t think of a professional this benefits more than the entrepreneur—a role defined by its ability to innovate and think outside the box.

Passion projects protect you from burnout and give you a sense of achievement

That’s two things, achieved simultaneously.

The “high” you get from pouring your heart into a work project is a fantastic motivator, but it often fizzles quickly. High expectations, numerous responsibilities, and countless challenges often cut the joy short, leaving you overwhelmed and exhausted instead of uplifted and inspired.

Ever more reason, then, to take on a passion project outside of work. This recharge time is difficult for many entrepreneurs, as they are often classified as “hyper-productive”—always on the hunt for a new task, job, or exercise that will convince them they are constantly making progress on their goals.

Here’s the good news for entrepreneurs “forced” into downtime: A recharge doesn’t mean you need to sit around and do nothing. In fact, this is the perfect time to engage in an activity or project fed by nothing more than your own interests and desires.

This is far better than diving back into work to fill the recharge void; if you do that, you’ll merely compound stress and anxiety.

So if you don’t have a hobby, find one, for the sake of your mental health. It’s not hard, really; you can turn any affinity into a passion or blend it with your existing priorities.

For example, maybe you want to get into hiking so that you don’t have to go to the gym every single day. For many high-performers I know, this activity becomes more than mere exercise—it’s a passion project that involves a study of nature, photography, navigating, backpacking, sightseeing, and so on. And, it’s a passion easily shared with others.

Here’s another example: If you love reading, why not write a little? If there are certain genres you enjoy, consider writing fan fiction based on existing stories. Or, start with a blank canvas and create something brand new. You can even share your stories with online communities of other writers who will eagerly consume your work and willingly engage you with questions and comments. 

As you can tell, these activities are not only enjoyable, but they keep both the brain and body humming, giving you the sense of personal achievement that you love.

Passion projects fill in voids in the workplace

Being an entrepreneur takes a whole lot of passion, ambition, creativity, and courage. But once you’re on the entrepreneurial journey, there’s a lot of not-so-creative stuff that has to be done. Top that off with the demands of the market pushing your business decisions (far more often than personal choice or passion), and you often feel pinned against the wall.

In these moments, passion projects become a true salvation. They allow you to continue your pursuit of what really matters to you and reminds you of your values and mission. Passion projects are also a great way to release the stress compounded by red tape and bureaucratic hurdles that can bring your dream business to a halt. 

Here’s a bonus: With the creative juices flowing in your passion pursuits, you can often come back to work with a new way forward. Sometimes, these passion projects even open new doors to new success—whole other business ideas that more closely align with your vision.

There’s no pressure, though. You do this for you.

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There’s no question: Personal passions drive entrepreneurship. And while there are plenty of excuses not to prioritize them, keeping them on your weekly schedule is critical to your mental health and longterm success. 

So make a promise to yourself to always pursue the things you love or to try something new. Then plan, focus, and act. You’ll be adding more to your personal and professional lives, while feeding your creative spirit and generating the kind of positive energy you need to be successful. 

Make time for your critical passion projects by implementing this Morning Routine…

Sign up now to get our FREE Morning Routine guide—the #1 way to increase productivity, energy, and focus for profitable days. Used by thousands of fitness, business, and finance industry leaders to leapfrog the competition while making time for the people who really matter. Learn more here.

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Caitlin is a bookworm and medical student. She is particularly interested in topics related to psychology, productivity, and the science behind motivation and success. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and the universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various lifestyle, psychology, and wellbeing-related topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, blogging, and grilled tofu. To see what Caitlin is up to next, follow her on Twitter.

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