Passion Project

Merit Badge

You know that project idea that sits in the back of your mind? It wakes up every time you see something related to it. You somehow get sucked down that trail every time something related to it pops up in your news feeds. That idea just might be your next "Passion Project." Passion Projects are usually done on a longer timeline. However, rarely are they completed without a plan. This AAC Merit Badge will walk you through the steps from start to end for completing your Passion Project. Not only will you complete your project, but you will also complete a merit badge! 

Hive Page Documentation

To achieve this badge complete and document all six steps. These may be completed on your own or with other people. You may document them in whatever manner you find most appropriate for you and your passion project (see Documentation Inspiration for more information), then fill in your hive page accordingly.

  1. WHAT and WHY: Identify theme and mission/vision of your project 

  2. WHO: Identify your intended audience and someone to keep you accountable

  3. HOW: Identify milestones, set your rules and end goal of your project  

  4. WHERE: Identify how to share it with your intended audience 

  5. WHEN: Set time frame to complete your project

  6. MAKE IT HAPPEN: Execute plan and celebrate!


When you first begin tackling a Passion Project, it can help to set some guidelines for yourself. This helps narrow down the field of possibilities and prevent feeling overwhelmed by your big ideas. Think of it as making the rules for your own game. Use the steps of this merit badge to help you set those guidelines from the beginning. As your work through your project, you can always adjust or change the guidelines if they aren’t helping you complete your project.  

  1. WHAT and WHY: Identify theme and mission/vision of your project 

    • Theme: Try to pick a theme that is interesting enough to you that you will still feel motivated to complete the project, even during the low moments of working on it. Those moments of frustration happen to everyone with long-term projects, but by picking a theme that you are passionate about, you can lean on your passion during the moments you want to chuck it out the window. 

      • Idea generation:

        • 5 Minutes of Ideas activity

          • Supplies: pencil, paper, and a timer 

          • Goal: write for 5 minutes straight

          • Instructions: 

            1. Take a moment to solidify the thought that you will be writing every idea for a theme for your passion project that pops into your head in the next 5 minutes. They don’t have to be good ideas, valid ideas, attainable ideas, or even complete thoughts. This 5 minutes isn’t about assessing ideas, it is simply about writing them down. This isn’t about fleshing out your project, you are just writing down ideas of themes. If you get to a point where nothing is happening in your mind, do something else, but only allow yourself to do this for a moment. You can look up, look down, look out the window, close your eyes, cross your legs, roll your shoulders, take one massive deep breath - just do one thing to let your mind rest for a moment. Then get back to writing. Write until the timer goes off.  

            2. Now, take a nice, relaxing breath, push start on that write! 

        • Write 100 Challenge: Grab a pencil and paper (this could also be done on a spreadsheet)! Number it 1 to 100. Now write down 100 ideas of themes for your passion project. Just like in the 5 Minute activity, there is no need to assess or judge your ideas right now. This activity is just to stimulate you generating ideas. If you get to a point where you aren’t sure what else to write, look back through your list and piggieback on one of those ideas. 

        • Here are some questions that may help you identify your theme. You don't have to answer every question, but maybe one will stimulate your thought process to identify a theme. 

          • Is there a problem you would like your project to solve?

          • Is there a topic/message that you naturally find ways to include in conversations? ​

          • Is there a topic/message that gets your blood pumping, something that you might be willing to literally get on a soapbox and speak to a crowd about? “I SPEAK FOR THE TREES!” --Lorax

          • Is there an underrepresented, under appreciated, under documented topic/message you would like your project to help?

          • Is there a community need that your skills could solve?

      • Identify your topic: Now it is time to narrow down your options to just one, or if you see a connection between two theme ideas. 

    • MISSION OR VISION: It may sound silly to write a mission or vision statement for your Passion Project. This statement doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can simply state what motivated you to start this project and what you would like to see in the end. It can help you stay focused on your goal when you are deep into your project and get distracted by a new topic/project idea on the horizon. 

  2. WHO: Identify your intended audience and someone to keep you accountable

    • Audience: Your Passion Project can be intended for anyone! The more specific you can be, the better you will be at identifying people who fit that description who might like to support your project in some way. Let’s explore some possible audiences: 

      • Y-o-u! You are always welcome to do projects for your own enjoyment, to challenge yourself, or to learn and practice a skill. 

      • Art Adventure Club Members - invite the AAC to be your audience!

      • All ages of adventurers

      • Your Instagram followers

      • Guests at a business - coffeeshop/business/gallery show/veterinarian's office

      • Locals or tourists

      • Readers - of a specific type of magazine, online readers, readers of a book genre, etc.

    • Accountability: Sometimes it is difficult to actually ask someone to support you and help keep you on track to reach your goal. By identifying people who might be a good fit for the job, instead of people who just happen to be around, you increase the chance this will be a benefit to both parties. 

      • Brainstorm: 

        • Write down a few people you already know in your support network. These might be family members, friends, AAC members, coworkers, former classmates, clergy or fellow volunteers. Your accountability people don’t have to be people you already know, but this list is a good place to start. 

        • Write down a few people who inspire you, but aren’t currently in your circle. These people may or may not be a good fit for serving as an accountability partner, but it can’t hurt to reach out to them. Basically, don’t be afraid of asking people outside of your usual circle for help.  Sometimes that outside perspective is what we need to grow in our art adventures. 

      • Best fit: 

        • Who will hold you accountable? Most people are more likely to accomplish a task when they know another person is going to ask about it later. Identify a few people who may share a similar passion in the topic/theme you have chosen or someone who cares about seeing you succeed. You might have several different people who hold you accountable through the process of your project. Who it is might depend on the task at hand, if you have several milestones to complete within your project. Identify who might be best for each section. 

        • How will they hold you accountable? Accountability only really works when the person will actually hold you accountable in ways that are meaningful to you. Ask yourself what type of accountability best helps you stay motivated:

          • Do you just need someone to check in on your progress regularly? 

            1. How often? Daily? Weekly? Specific day between milestones?

            2. How to best communicate the check in? Text? Call? Email? Skype? Chat over coffee? Hike and chat? Crafternoon together? 

          • Do you need someone to regularly comment on your social media posts? Do you need feedback on your posts?

          • Do you need someone to call you out for slacking off? Make sure your person knows you need that push.

  3. HOW: Identify milestones, set your rules and end goal of your project: If you don’t know where the end is, how do you know when you have arrived? 

    • It may help to identify SMART goals for each milestone of your project. There is a LOT of information on the interwebs about SMART goals. There’s no need for us to rehash it all here. Here’s the basics though:

      • S - Specific

      • M - Measurable

      • A - Attainable

      • R - Realistic

      • T - Time-based

    • By setting some rules of your own game, you get to control all of the outcomes! 

      • What motivates you? Find a way to build that into the rules of your passion project. For example, social involvement is a bigger motivator for Alexis than the intrinsic motivation to complete a project. Thus, she incorporates the rule that she must invite at least one friend to participate with her to accomplish each milestone. 

      • Is there something that boosts your mental health, that you just don’t get around to doing in everyday life? Build that into your passion project! Maybe part of the end result of your passion project will be forming a new healthy habit. Example: John’s project focuses on social justice issues and can be accomplished from home, but is portable. He also knows that he boosts his mental health on multiple levels when he takes his project with him out of the house (exploring new places, coffee shops, fun meet ups with friends, ect.). Thus, he builds in the rule that he must work on his project outside his home at least once a week. 

      • Are you motivated to hit deadlines when you know there are possible “punishments” waiting for you if you are late? Now, we aren’t suggesting any kind of physical punishment or something that will hurt you. We are simply thinking of things that you dislike doing - eating your least favorite food, wearing your least favorite color or a silly hat for an entire day no matter what you have on your schedule, letting a friend cover your face in butter, etc. Yes, these are silly things, but if they are things you would rather not do in your life, then they might motivate you to hit those deadlines! Bonus - everyone laughs!

  4. WHERE: Identify how to share it with your intended audience

    • Will you be showcasing your project in some manner? If so, identify what kind of showcase fits you and your project the best.  

      • Online 

        • Will posting on social media be a great fit for showcasing your process and/or completion of your project? 

        • Will you post throughout the process of your project, or just as a wrap up? 

        • Do you need a separate page for your project or will your personal or business account serve your project well?

        • Do you need a website to showcase your project?

      • Will you need a physical location to showcase your project? If so, what type of location best fits you and your project (i.e. gallery, library, public park, theater, swimming pool, on a train, on a plane, in a box, on a fox)?

  5. WHEN: Set time frame to complete your project - Make it specific and attainable

  6. MAKE IT HAPPEN: Execute your plan and celebrate! How do you want to celebrate your achievement when the whole project is over?




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