I was first introduced to The Spin-Off Project many months ago. The premise: learn 12 things in 12 months, dedicating one month to each thing. Sounds doable when you put it like that, right? A little time each day to learning things you always talked about, but never did… why not? What I’ve found about myself and many others that I’ve come across in life is that we are interested in everything, yet persistent in nothing. This is a silly thing to be, and I’ve realized that I’ll be kicking myself in the bum for it later. If you want to change something, do it now. What’s the use in talking and dreaming about it for years? “There’s no time like the present”, right? All you’ve got to do, is put one foot in front of the other. Mirha Masala (creator of The Spin-Off Project) came to this realization at just the right time, and her life hasn’t been the same since. I got the opportunity to speak with her about her ideas, and how the project has been progressing for her.
How did you come up with the idea of dedicating 12 months to learning 12 things?
The idea for The Spin-Off Project sprung out of a craving to do everything and a total inability to plan this ‘everything’. With so many things that I had an interest in, wanted to do and learn, trying to fit everything in a one-week schedule seemed impossible. I ended up doing little or nothing.
On the other hand, this inability to plan, and perceived lack of opportunity to dedicate quality time to anything, caused me to think that I was good at nothing. It also left me thinking that I did not have a passion. Something that I absolutely loved to do, something that was me.
It was in pursuit of finding a passion, the will to become good at it, and the desire to actually do something for a longer period, that I came up with The Spin-Off Project.
How did you choose your goals?
I simply made a list of all the things that I already had an interest in and other things that I had always wanted to do or learn. I prioritized with the notion in mind that I would also be traveling around the world. I had to schedule the 12 spin-offs in a way that they would be executable in the countries that I would be visiting. Trying to do a month of snowboarding in Indonesia could prove to be, well, perhaps impossible.
I also made other spin-offs fit in deliberately. For example, I always thought it would be awesome to learn to cook Italian food from some cool Italian momma. However, with the plan to go to Thailand, and my by far greater love for the Thai cuisine; I edited that spin-off into ‘Learning to cook Thai food’ -it is the same idea but adjusted to fit with my traveling plans.
Did you ever want to stop completely (i.e. if something became difficult or overwhelming)?
No, I never really wanted to stop completely; however, I did chose to do so temporarily. Now, half-way in, that is.
On one hand, I had to stop because of a practical reason: our travel plans had changed. On the other hand, I needed to stop because the project itself had become slightly overwhelming.
Only half-way through, I had found so many things that I loved to do. It was not something I had planned for to happen at all, but it did not seem fair to myself to just keep going, ignoring this new reality.
Along the way, for example, I re-discovered my love for writing. Now, I am trying to give it a place in my life. I am figuring out if it is something that I want to pursue, in any form.
One of the ways that I am implementing this writing wish, is through my online magazine and city guide, The Girl With The Blueprint . It is the project that is taking up all of my time at the moment. I get to write, travel, eat and discover inspirational material all the time. I absolutely love it, because I get to experience a few of my greatest passions through one project.
Moreover, this break allows me to settle all the experiences and stories that my heart and mind have grown richer by. The time off allows me to become the person that I have changed into because of the past year.
Do you have any advice or a mantra for people undertaking this project (as far as how to choose your goals, how to stick to them, and how to get the most out of the experience)?
The purpose of The Spin-Off Project is full immersion and dedication into one subject at the time. Do plan it with living abroad, but do not do anything else on the side.
If you choose to kiteboard for a month: live, eat, sleep, and party like a kiteboarder. If you are a blogger, write about kiteboarding but nothing else. Read about kiteboarding, do yoga exercises for kite boarders, and hang out with kiteboarders. Be a kiteboarder.
This is so that you can truly experience 12 of your possible lives in one year. Scratching 12 “What-if-I-had-dones, What-if-I-had-beens” is the greatest gift you will ever give yourself. The gift of 12 lives in a year. After you do this, there is hardly anything that you can ever regret not having done. And is not that, incredible?
That it is. Thanks again, Mirha, for sharing your amazing ideas. Your project is truly inspiring.
So, after hearing about this idea, I decided to take control of my life and go for it. I’m confined to an island in Korea (at least for a while), so what better time to embrace learning and soul-feeding? Want to know what my 12 things are and how they’re progressing? Stay tuned!