A year ago I made the choice to focus on my passion project full-time. With little in the way of a plan, I was ecstatic to have the freedom to chase the work I was in love with.
I’ve read a ton about burnout. How it manifests for others, how to be aware of it, how to avoid it and how to deal with it. It’s funny that despite our best efforts, despite being prepared with all the tools — things can still catch up to us. So here I am, writing from the middle of a burnout.
This last year has been unreal. It’s been chock full of once in a lifetime opportunities and also challenges — both expected and unexpected. Every week I get to talk to someone I admire, I get to learn from them and ask them questions that in many circumstances would be a bit too personal. I’ve interviewed individuals and teams from places like Instagram, Facebook, Medium and even someone on the Hillary for America campaign.
Then, I get to share those conversations with the world. On top of that, people actually want to read them. As in thousands, every month. To know that something you created is valued by others — it’s the best feeling.
On the good days, I can focus solely on that feeling. On the good days, all I care about is that even one person is inspired. But when your passion project becomes your full-time gig, it needs to do one major thing: start making money. And in the words of Jamie Varon:
“…it’s hard to be excited about a viral post when you don’t know if you can pay your electric bill.”
The reality is that slowly your focus shifts to how it can generate income. You get sucked into the trap of making decisions based off what will get the most traffic, create the most growth, and eventually make some money. It’s less like a hustle and more of a scavenge. The energy you draw from what you love about the work, gets eaten up by everything you have to do just to keep it going.
And it drains you.
One benefit of burnout is that it forces you to pause, to refocus. I’m taking a step back to assess not just my goals for the project but for myself. And in the midst of that pause I also need to figure out where next months pay is coming from.
When I set out to make this my full-time thing, I knew it would be hard, I just didn’t know how it would be hard. There’s no way to prepare, you just deal with each thing as it comes and learn as fast as you can.
It’s easier to talk about these things once you’re in the clear, but there’s something in the value that comes from sharing when you’re smack in the middle of it.
In fact I already feel better.