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There is so much going on right now that it can feel overwhelming. The Black Lives Matter movement has evolved with protests and marches around the world, Pride Month and conversations about LGBTQ+ rights, and conversations about the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada during National Indigidenous History month– all while we are still facing a global pandemic.
Minus the pandemic, the issues being discussed aren’t new. The Black, LGBTQ+, and Indngeous communities have all been sharing these messages for decades. The difference is that people are listening now. We are hearing climate warriors, those who fight domestic violence and child abuse, and those striving to support disadvantaged communities through this pandemic with new ears. And its not just the large things we are noticing. We are seeing big things like racism, and small things like an elderly neighbour that feels lonely without their usual family visits.
The weight of realizing how much help the world needs can feel very heavy. There’s no denying that.
But it’s also inspiring. People across the world are coming together to march. More people are putting on masks when in public. Donations are pouring in from coast to coast for different causes. People are inspired to do better, to make things better, because of what they are hearing and listening to. People are finding a purpose.
By finding a purpose throughout everything going on, it can help you feel more fulfilled and more in control of what’s going on as you contribute. You may not see change overnight, but you are contributing.
One way to channel your purpose is to commit to a singular project. A passion project is a purposeful project that will allow you to feel fulfilled by making a contribution to something.
But with so much happening, how do you pick one area to focus? Nobody expects you to do everything, so this is a great way to get you focused. If you’re not sure where to start, here are four steps to implementing a passion project.
Step One: Pick a Focus
With so many different things happening, it’s important to find an area to focus on for a passion project so you can put your best effort into that. Consider everything that is going on and find something that you want to positively contribute to the change around. What is bothering you? What calls you to action and want to do you respond do?
Remember to take time to listen to those who are leading the charge before getting started. If you are getting involved with a cause that isn’t directly impacting you, learn from those that are directly impacted. Educate yourself. They will know best how to make change, and then you can support that vision or act on what they need as an ally.
Step Two: Identify Your Skills
Think about the gifts and skills you already have that you can leverage on your project. You may have some hard skills (like photography, ability to code, being healthy enough to go out and grocery shop for somebody in need or protest) and soft skills (like compassion, patience, and optimism) that can help you with your project.
You can also look at the skill gaps you may have – this will give you a great idea of different people you may want to bring into the project that have these skills and fill in the gaps.
Once you know what you can offer and how you can support, you will have a better idea of how you can make a difference.
Step Three: Make a Plan
How do you plan to execute on your plan? This step is the most important, because it will help you turn your vision into action items – you need to know how you’re going to get from a passion to a plan.
If you need help planning, use this basic template to make sure you are thinking of all of the different angles you need to consider.
Step Four: Make It Happen
Once you have your plan, just do it. Be prepared to make some mistakes, but also be ready to learn from them and keep moving forward.
Like we talked earlier about finding people with different skills to elevate your plan, you will also want to find some cheerleaders. Tell your parents or a mentor about your project so they can help you get over any hurdles.
Contributing to change is hard, but it’s also empowering. Fulfilling your purpose by making a contribution, no matter how big or small, makes the world a better place and helps you use your passions, privilege and resources in a real way that will make a difference for others while bringing you personal fulfillment too. You will have to wade through discomfort and put in effort, but it is all worth it in the end.
About Passion Projects & Gap Years
Completing a passion project is a core pillar of the Gap Year Certification – each gapper must complete an independent project. CanGap helps them on their journey to identifying, designing and executing their project and provides mentors and cheerleaders as they go through the project. The gapper’s final project will be used as evidence towards earning the gap year certification.