A guide for finding your next heart and soul project
“You were made to do more than just exist.”
These words spoke to me in a way that seemed to change me the moment I read them.
Partly because they were truth. I could feel it. And partly because they gave hope to the piece of me that ached for purpose and fulfillment.
I was on bedrest at the time, pregnant with our miracle baby girl, and I wasn’t sure that my tiny daily schedule amounted to much of anything. Months later when a new health issue resulted in another big pile of limitations my search for purpose became even more important.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the meaningful, happy life I was praying for came in the unexpected form of what I now lovingly call my heart and soul projects.
Over the years they’ve taken all kinds of shapes and sizes - mostly depending on my health and current abilities. Some of the most recent: this blog and my writing, a flower bed off our patio, a 30-day scripture reading challenge, encouragement cards, a decluttered and organized pantry, emails to friends and readers, an epic train track for my little guy, an intentional living challenge, tiny habits for more positivity, a new friendship and my (brand new!) guided journal.
While each project has been meaningful to me in some way, what really defines a heart and soul project is the happy, motivated person I become when I have one.
“Prod any happy person and you will find a project.” Richard Layard
For anyone who feels like their life is missing purpose, happiness, or fulfillment, maybe you don’t need a total overhaul or a drastic change - in your life or yourself. Maybe all you need is a project.
I hope this little guide will help you find your next (or first) heart and soul project and bring that spark back into your life that you’ve been searching for.
A heart and soul project:
Is created with your heart and soul. Your project can be big or small, tangible or not. It can take weeks to complete or can be finished in less than an hour. It can be created for many or can be for you only. What’s important is that it’s not created out of obligation, but a desire to build something meaningful, to grow, become, contribute or explore... A piece of you inevitably goes into your project because, in some way or another, it really matters to you.
Is true to your heart and soul. Your project should reflect your truest self. No outside pressure pulling you in one direction or pushing you in another. You create using the compass within you. You add, subtract, and create based on what feels right.
Feeds your heart and soul. And finally, your project should fill you up. You’ll want to finish it because you believe in it. But even more, it will feed a craving you never even realized was there. Whether it’s anticipating the finished result or experiencing the thrill of the process, distractions, doubt, fear, and stress fade away when you give space in your life to this project. When you’re knee deep in a true heart and soul project, you feel an aliveness that’s bound to make your day better, no matter what.
Make your list
The first step to finding your heart and soul project is a simple brainstorm. You may already have some ideas running through your mind. Write them down, then use the questions below to add to your a list.
The one suggestion I’d make is to not settle for just the first few ideas that come to mind. I recommend listing at least five ideas in each group outlined. Sometimes the best project ideas aren’t floating along the surface but are discovered from searching hard and deep.
Your gifts. What skill, talent, or interest do you always come back to? What’s something you enjoyed doing when you were a child? What would you enjoy doing more of if you had an hour of extra time?
Your growth. What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn about? What do you admire in others and find yourself frequently saying, “I want to do that someday.” Is there a life skill that would help you now or in the upcoming months? What weaknesses are you most aware of and want to strengthen?
Your season. What is special about your current season of life? What’s happening right now that may never happen again? What could you create because of the unique circumstances around you?
Your pain. What challenges have you overcome? What could you create to honor your growth, struggle, or experiences? What could you create to help someone else going through a similar experience?
Your legacy. What’s so important to you personally that you want it to live on in the lives of others? What do you crave to give and leave with your family, your friends, your children? What project, achievement, or goal would make your legacy feel more complete and true to you?
Your ideas. What dreams and ideas have stayed rooted in your mind despite the ups and downs? What ideas never wash away in the distractions and noise of life? What ideas keep calling to your heart and are waiting to be brought to life?
Pick your project
Now with your dreams and possibilities buzzing, explore your list of ideas. One by one read each project on your list. If it doesn’t make you feel so excited you want to get started on it this very second then cross it out. Slowly reduce your list to your top 10, then top 5. Then finally circle your project.
You'll know you've found the right one because you'll feel it… in your heart and soul.
A couple things to remember when picking your project…
Pick only one. Once you’ve imagined the possibilities it’s tempting to want to bring them all to life. And you can! Just not at the same time. The power of a project comes from focusing and finishing. The best way to do that is by giving your attention and energy to a single project.
Even when I’m clear on my current project, others always seem to find their way into my thoughts or show up as a spontaneous opportunity in my day. Having chosen one specific project gives me room to savor what comes across my path while still being clear on what matters to me right now.
Positivity over perfection. A heart and soul project doesn’t have to be as life-changing as it sounds. Creating can bring more joy into your life whether you’re putting the finishing touches on a beautiful dessert that will be gone tomorrow or a photo project that will be a treasure to your children all their lives.
I’ve found that most of the time perfection is more of an obstacle than a stepping stone when it comes to projects (or anything really!). Rather than waiting to start until the perfect project idea has landed in your lap, choose the one you’re most excited for and bring it life! If you stay in touch with your heart, the right project will always find you when it’s meant to be created. So let go of perfection, and follow the path in search for positivity instead.
Once you’ve settled on your project, do some planning or learning if you need to but don’t wait too long to get started. Keep your excitement alive by jumping in and going for it. Schedule it in your calendar or plant it into your routine and start creating!
I try to fit at least a tiny piece of project time into every single day. It keeps me excited and encouraged about my progress. Other times, it’s something I only have an hour or two on a Saturday morning for. Do whatever feels best and is realistic for you, and enjoy the journey.
Because if your experience is anything like mine, you’ll soon discover, underneath the paint strokes or freshly planted seeds, that happiness and fulfillment are created just as easily as a project is. And that doing what you were designed to do is doing something good and meaningful. No matter the size of your creations.
And if you’ve made your way to the end of this little guide and still doubt there’s a project (or purpose) within you, please remember this truth, dear friend... you were made to do more than just exist.