What’s your Passion Project?

By Leslie Hamp

Creativity, passion and connection are a BIG part of the WHY for my business and life. Over the past 20 years I’ve worked with women and men around the world to get their creative juices flowing and ensure they’re living their own juicy version. For them—as well as for me—diving into passion does the mind, body and soul good.

Leslie Hamp in Traverse City. Photo by Beth Price Photography.

What is passion, anyway?

Passion is like your inner GPS. When you’re expressing it personally and professionally, you know you’re going in the right direction as you feel aligned and happy. But when you’re not expressing it, your inner GPS sends messages through your feelings. If you tune-in to those feelings, you know you’re in need of a new direction.

I experienced being way off course in 2010 when both my mother and father, who lived 500 miles away from me, were both diagnosed with terminal illnesses. I became overwhelmed and exhausted from the travel, the caretaking and the end-of-life issues and my inner GPS was saying, “Let go. Let go. Now is not the time to be over-busy.”

And so I listened to that inner voice and let go. Of everything. My successful coaching business. My clients from around the world. And a big part of my identity.

As I let go to focus on family and the gifts around me, I practiced a lot of Pilates, walked daily for some sweet relief and journaled like no tomorrow—about family, health, gratitude, exhaustion, confusion and overwhelming grief.

All these things helped. But old habits are hard to break. So, after the passing of my parents 11 months apart, I went back to my old ways. I returned to business coaching, but my mojo was missing. I just couldn’t seem to recapture the spark that always inspired me. And without that spark, wow, I was really lost.

Finding a new passion

I stepped back and began visioning a new work/life model that was more heart-centered, creative and in line with where I was at that stage of life. I went through extensive training to become a Licensed Passion Project Facilitator, and I started coaching in a new way.

It wasn’t always easy. In fact, it was confusing and painful at times. After all, it takes guts to look inside, to break patterns, to try something different. But I listened to that inner voice, trusted the process, and followed my energy. I paid close attention to what was giving me energy, what was taking it away, what I wanted as my ideal work/life balance. I was following the principals of my book, Create the Life You Crave. 

Acting on that passion

During that time of uncertainty and change, I had to trust the bigger picture that wanted to emerge. I had to feel the vulnerability. I had to have the courage to keep putting my ideas out there.

Out of that soul-searching came a new vision to lead workshops and retreats around passion and purpose and to add visual art, soulful exploration and an elemental approach to creating with Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit as metaphors for the process.

As I’ve seen in dozens of workshops since, these tools set the stage for powerful learning, transformation, change and growth.

I couldn’t imagine it when I began searching for my own passion and purpose during those grief-filled days, but the work I do now is the juice I was missing.

Watching the creativity, passion and big leaps unfold in the 15 programs I’ve led with 275 Passion Projects birthed makes me feel alive again. It all became reality once I focused on my heart-centered vision and turned it into a Passion Project.

What is a Passion Project? 

It’s a project that makes you come alive and gets you so excited you can’t hold back. It’s likely something you’ve had in mind, had on the back burner, or have even been a bit afraid to voice. You know it’s your next step, and this is the time to explore it.

Maybe, like my client Jacque, you have a real talent to create gourmet cuisine and want to express that in your own business.

Or maybe, like Michaela, you have a real talent for photography or, like Karen, you love to make wedding dresses and want to express that in a freelance niche that allows you to work around your family’s schedule and with clients who light you up.

Perhaps you have a deeply held desire to share years of expertise through a non-profit or foundation.

Or maybe you have a message to share in a book or on the speaking circuit. It’s all up to you.

Giving yourself permission

Some of you may be wondering: Is my secret passion project too much to expect? Definitely not!

The motivation to step into an entrepreneurial venture, creative outlet or encore career is often driven by the desire for freedom, self-expression and personal satisfaction. It comes from making a living doing something you love.

It’s all-around passion and purpose, and that’s the magic of a Passion Project.

The Passion Projects I’ve helped clients nurture still amaze me! A few examples: Ros laid the foundation to launch Little Big Bay Publishing Company; Monica created www.lifeisaprettyword.com to honor her deceased daughter; Kim designed a women’s retreat, Cathy developed content for her fitness book; Julie finished a best-selling book about her year-long paddling adventure from Wisconsin to Canada; Jill fine-tuned delivery of health coaching services; Kelly prepared for a half-marathon; Candi worked on mixed media collage workshops; Terry created a new case study for the college class she was teaching.

Finding your passion and purpose isn’t always clear and often includes a mixture of excitement and fear. But when you engage your passion, work around your fear and step into your truth in a new way, the magic unfolds.

What’s calling for your attention in this New Year? What would happen if you gave yourself permission to focus on a Passion Project? More than ever, our world needs you to be a positive force for good. My hope is that you share your passion and purpose and shine in a whole new way in 2017.

Leslie Hamp, Creative Catalyst & Licensed Passion Project Facilitator, works with women and men in transition. Some are empty nesters. Others are moving on from a career, business, relationship or lifestyle that’s no longer working for them and wondering, “What’s next?” Leslie’s coaching techniques and accountability systems help clients rejuvenate an old idea or add heart and soul to a fresh one. She is the author of Create the Life You Crave and its companion Beautiful Journal. Learn more at www.lesliehamp.com or contact her at leslie@lesliehamp.com.

Join us at the Feb. 8th GTWoman Luncheon with Leslie!

“YOU 2.0”! If you’re ready to make a change and take things to the next level at work or at home, you don’t want to miss our best luncheon ever! Join us for lunch Feb. 8th when Leslie will share 4 tips for making it happen. Visit www.grandtraversewoman.com for tickets and vendor booth info.


Grand Traverse Woman is a bimonthly magazine dedicated to the interests of women in the five-county region. Our mission is to provide women with a publication that is educational and inspirational. We strive to maintain a positive, well-balanced and genuine forum for women’s issues. If you would like to submit a story or press release to GTWoman, check out our guidelines here.