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How Not to Give Up on Your Passion Projects

What do you do when your passion projects make you want to pull out your hair or when giving back becomes a headache? Here’s one CEO’s solution.


Well folks, today I am incredibly frustrated.

(Identifying details below have been altered for confidentiality, but the emotions behind this article are mine and 100% real.)

I’m helping an organization try to move into the modern era: I’m working late and on the weekends for them, pulling out all the stops, and going above and beyond because it’s a cause I believe in. I know in my heart that without help, they are doomed to fizzle out and cease existing… soon. In my company, we pride ourselves on delighting our clients, so we’re known for going above and beyond, but usually it’s for much better pay. Our normal fees usually provide enough of an incentive that the businesses we work with have decided they need to make changes and know we’re the best ones to help them; in short, they work with us instead of against us. This one however, is my passion project; I believe in what they’re here to do, and in my heart, I want to help them survive. (It’s one of the ways I give back.)

This company has a very specific way they have gone about their business for decades, but as you know, the world has changed a lot in the last 20 years. I accepted this challenge because I believe in what they do and think it would be a shame to see them close their doors, but the phrase “uphill battle” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Have you ever worked with someone like that? Maybe it was a client who took forever to implement your suggestions, or a business with so much bureaucracy and red tape that you couldn’t get anything accomplished. If you’re a mover and a shaker, working with someone who moves at a snail’s pace or has to put everything through a committee vote can be incredibly frustrating. And even if you’re used to meeting clients where they’re at and walking them through a step-by-step journey from where they are to where they want to be, some days, even your passion projects make you want to pull out your hair and quit.

If we’re really passionate about what we do, quitting isn’t a viable option (even on the days we dream about it), so when you have to work AND your work is making you crazy, it’s best to have a strategy to deal with that frustration.

The best strategy I’ve found is to find someone you trust to vent to and brainstorm with. This strategy works only if you choose the person you vent to wisely. It’s never a good idea to vent about one employee to (or in front of) another employee. You also don’t want to vent with someone who’ll see it as an excuse to have a long-lasting b****fest. The person you choose needs to be able to witness your frustration, acknowledge it, and help you move forward. (HINT: know the solution, but still need to vent? Tell them that in advance–it helps get your partner out of problem-solving mode so he or she can simply witness and acknowledge your feelings.)

The important thing to keep in mind is: after you’ve vented your frustration in a safe place (where it won’t harm morale, relationships, or company culture), you need to brainstorm solutions. Maybe you can’t make that organization move any faster than mud moving uphill, however, if you choose the right partner to vent to, they will be able to help you find a way to deal with the situation. When you’re working with other people, you may not always find a solution that works for both parties; sometimes your only solution is to vent, regroup, and decide where your priorities lie. If, like me, you still want to be involved with the organization, company, or person that is currently making you crazy, you may find yourself strapping in for a long, bumpy, uphill ride. It’s frustrating, and change can be slow. For myself, I’m going to stick it out… and be a little more judicious with my time. After all, I believe in the cause, but I also have a business to run.

This article was originally published on in December 2014.
Ariana Ayu is the author of the Business Mojo column on (a website and magazine geared toward entrepreneurs) which was published between 2014-2016. Ariana is the CEO and founder of several companies, including Ayutopia International, LLC, which develops profitable collaborative corporate cultures, personal celebrity brands, and custom branded websites. Her press and media appearances include USA Today, International Business Times, ABC, CBS, CBS Money Watch, the CW, Eyewitness News, FOX, NBC, Newsday,Virtual-Strategy Magazine, World’s Luxury Guide,, Miami Herald, BlogTalkRadio, and Hollywood Industry, among others.

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