Sadly, I have always found myself interested in everything, but persistent in nothing. While I have a strong interest to learn many things, I never take the time to do so. When I heard of The Spin-Off Project created by Mirha Masala, I was very impressed.
Imagine choosing 12 things that you would like to do more often, perform better at, or learn from scratch. Then imagine throwing those twelve things into a list and devoting a year of your life to actively pursuing one desire each month. Does this sound crazy and impossible? Or just plain fun?
This is exactly what Mirha is currently doing. I absolutely love her idea and I am envious of her dedication to pursue such a project. She kindly took some time out of her intense schedule to answer a few questions about her current project. I hope you like her answers even half as much as I do.
Hi Mirha, I LOVE your project. Can you tell me more about it and what gave you the inspiration to start it?
The Spin-Off Project is about choosing 12 things that you love to do, would like to do more, or always wanted to learn. It initially started as a way to organize my time and life better. There were so many things that I wanted to do and to try, but time just kept passing me by without proper dedication to anything. On top of that, my mind kept dwelling on my true passions. I had not found them yet, or had only been introduced to them for a short time.
People say that doing what you love in life is the most important thing. There I was, not knowing what I loved, and unable to use my time in a way that I would find out.
So, I figured that immersing myself fully into one subject for a month would solve my extensive to-do-list issue, give me time to concentrate on learning new things, and in addition, answer my question: is life as good on the other side as I imagine? How will I feel about snowboarding every day for 30 days when I actually do it?
It is one thing to think you want to be somebody, or to have something, but it is a completely different thing to try to get it, and on top of that, totally something else to have it or to be it. I have realized that I absolutely love kiteboarding, but that I do not want to be a professional kiteboarder. I simply do not have the passion to get out on the water each day to practice for hour upon hour. Something else that I do not have, is regrets, because I have tried it. That is what The Spin-Off Project gives me: a chance to experience 12 of my possible lives.
What have you done so far and how successful have you been?
I have finished five spin-offs: 1. Learning Spanish, 2. Being an Artist, 3. Kiteboarding, 4. Helping Someone, 5. Learning Salsa in Cuba, and I am about to start my 6th spin-off: Setting up The Girl With The Blueprint, which is going to be a unique online city guide. I can say that every month has proved to be a success so far; from speaking Spanish with my family in laws to soaring through the air with my kite.
If I look at the project as a whole, I could not be happier. During these months I have felt more alive and fulfilled than ever. To me, this is how life is supposed to be.
How much time do you dedicate to your learning?
More than a year ago, Mr. G (the boyfriend) and I decided to quit our office jobs and start an internet company of our own. This enables us to travel around the world, to work on anything that we want, and to make our own time schedules. As you can imagine, this freedom helps in making time for The Spin-Off Project.
Each spin-off gets one month assigned and within this month, I try to dedicate as much time to it as possible. In the end, that is what The Spin-Off Project was about for me, immersing myself fully in a subject, experiencing twelve of my possible lives. However, one cannot be learning Spanish ten hours per day, and your body simply cannot handle so many hours of kiteboarding either.
When I am not actively busy with a certain spin-off, I am writing about my experiences, doing interviews, editing videos, connecting with people and sharing the project with my readers. Next to this, I am the owner of The Girl With The Blueprint, and this online guide can take up as much of my time as I allow it to. Also, traveling and moving around eats up some of my time, and no matter how far I fly, I too have to keep track of my administrative and social duties.
How difficult is it for you to focus on your list and have you ever felt like giving up?
It is not difficult at all, I love doing The Spin-Off Project. It is doing everything that I want and love in life.
What I do sometimes find difficult, is to allocate time to write about the project. On the other hand, sharing the project also keeps me going. It’s as if I didn’t just make a promise to myself, but also to the rest of the world. Having the project online keeps me on track. There are all these wonderful people out there who send me messages telling me that they like my writing, to wish me good luck, or to let me know that The Spin-Off Project has inspired them. That is truly priceless, and it is because of them that I keep sharing my experiences.
What are you going to do when you finish your list?
The first version of The Spin-Off Project is going to go on until summer next year. After that I will still have the guide, The Girl With The Blueprint, which is going to take more of my time as each day passes.
Mr.G and I are also going to get married around this time, and are also very excited about starting a family. It is only reasonable to think that The Spin-Off Project, in its current form, will be affected by it. Think less time, less travelling and of course, less extreme sports.
I do not think too much about it to be honest, these things have a way of working themselves out, and there is so much that you can do, perhaps ‘The Spin-Off Project Knocked up,’ who knows? It definitely feels like I will be doing a second version, but perhaps with some kind of twist to make it fit my future lifestyle.
One thing that I will definitely be including is a blueprint on how to start a Spin-Off Project of your own, including financial advice, but also with the possibility to hire me as mentor.
Do you think that anyone could do this?
Yes, of course, it is easy! Let me give you a couple of examples.
You can do The Spin-Off Project in its purest form when you, for example, take a sabbatical. Or if you were saving money to go around the world for a year, you could combine traveling with a bucket list. Traveling pur sang is definitely enjoyable, but I believe that many people have either already experienced it or believe that just roaming around the world is perhaps not enough. With a Spin-Off List of your own, you can give your travel experience a greater value. For example, if you would like to travel in India, then why not combine it with one month of meditating, a month of learning to cook Indian food, another month of living in Mumbai etc. You see what I mean? You are still in India, still traveling, but ticking some items off from you bucket list as well.
However, The Spin-Off Project is greatly customizable, you really do not even have to leave your home town nor your office job. When I look at the things that I have ticked off my list so far, I see that I could have stayed in Amsterdam, if I had wanted or needed to. I could have learned Spanish, been an artist, learned to kiteboard, helped someone and learned salsa, all without ever leaving the country.
Moreover, you need to understand, that you do not need to be rich nor do you have to save up money first to do a Spin-Off Project. Some things cost very little money or none at all, like meditating, learning Spanish, helping someone, being an artist etc. Moreover, you do not need full days off, meaning that you can finance your Spin-Off Project through your full time job. Huh? I do not need free time? No, not necessarily, just customize your Spin-Off Project. Go about it in parallel. For example, add an extra month per passion, which will give you more dedicated time per spin-off alongside your daily job. You see? It is all possible, and these are just a few examples. I could help you out with many more. You just need to want it. And why would you not, knowing that The Spin-Off Project will help you to:
one) Figure out what your real passions are.
Find out what makes you happy. Your whole universe could change when you realize that there is nothing more valuable than dedicating your life to doing the things that you love to do most. Happiness is what matters. You might find what I am saying strange now, but when you find that one thing or that certain lifestyle that is You, you will be unable to make sense out of your ‘old life’.
two) Understand how true your dreams are.
For 26 years, my mom made me believe that she wanted to travel; however, life had spun her in a different direction, and she just never managed to. It was all too late she said. Not so long ago, I told her that I was going to buy her a ticket to Mexico. She told me not to. It took me a week and rivers of tears to convince her and my dad to come. You might think you want something, but what happens when you get it?
You always dreamed of learning to tango? What happens when you commit? What happens when you are dancing tango? You still like it? Stop the talking. Stop the dreaming. Trying is the only way to find out.
three) Work on your bucket list.
Put it all on paper. It is different when you do. Start with a list of 12 and make it possible. Do not wait until the only thing that is left on your list, is regret.
four) Live a life based on happiness.
You will be doing things that you love doing the most, or that you have always wanted to try. Now, please, tell me that is not how life is supposed to be?
If you had the power to change two things about the world, what would you change?
Firstly, I would abolish borders, so that everybody has a fair chance at everything. And, if I am not mistaken, Jamie, you would be cheering me from the sideline. Something about visa fees? [I fully support this. I believe that the world should be open, allowing free movement so that everybody can travel and live wherever they want.]
Then, I would make everybody do what they love. Except, you know, war lords, rapists and those kind of folks.
If you only had twelve more days left to live, what would you spend them doing and what words of wisdom would you leave with the world?
It goes without saying that I would want to spend time with my love, family, and friends. However, I am thinking that you’re asking me if I have some great unfulfilled wishes. Not really.
I have danced in the open air with my feet in the sand, I managed to get out of puberty for the sake of my parents and nowadays I make them laugh. I have skinny dipped more than once, I have met Oprah, I have lied, I have partied ten days in a row, I have had nose freezes i.e. the slush puppy and sushi-with-too-much-wasabi ones, I have drunk beer out of a teapot, I have shopped without limit, I have slept in a desert, I have driven around with the music up real loud, I have told people the truth and apologized more often, I bungee jumped and hated it, I have laughed a lot, I definitely know sunsets, and I found the love of my life.
There is nothing left that I need to do per se, before I die. The only thing that comes to mind, is that I would go straight to my 8th spin-off month, called The Bucket List of Little Big Things. It includes things that I always meant to do, but still have not. Like, writing up a testament, telling my family and friends how much it exactly is that I love them, interviewing my parents, but also learning how to whistle and how to do the cartwheel. I definitely need to learn how to do the cartwheel before I die.
As for some words of wisdom, you are warned, I am not the quote type.
I believe people need to lighten up about work, conventions, family, friends, and especially about the meaning of life. Nothing really matters, you know? You are not going to achieve anything, no matter what you do or who you are. You need to enjoy what you are doing right now, not when you ‘get rich’ or any of that nonsense.
So, tell me, would you mind to die, right now?
Your answer should be ‘no’, though obviously not a suicidal one, but a fulfilled ‘no’. That answer would mean to me that you are in the right place, doing something that you love. Are you? Are you happy? Or just a bit confused now? Allow me to explain.
Obviously, I would not be overly excited to die now, but it is because I am thinking about friends and family, not knowing if they realize how much I love them. Like I said, I am going work on that. What I want to say is that, in a way, I would not be too unhappy about dying now. Sounds morbid and very weird. But you have to understand death as something inevitable, unexpected, and, try to see the concept less dense. Yes, less dense. The thing is, at the moment, I am doing something that I love. I am writing about The Spin-Off Project, contemplating life, and hoping to inspire you to do the things you love. Then, as I look to my left, I see palm trees, the sea, and a beautiful sunny day ahead. It is windy, meaning that if do not die, I can go kiteboarding in my lunch break. But, I did so yesterday, so I am fine. Then, when I look to the right, I see a handsome face that is the love of my life. I am here with him, at this very moment, not in some office, not ‘on my way to’. I get to live with him, every day of my life. Until now, that is, until this moment that I die, but I am dying while doing everything that I love, in the right place with the one great love, who, by the way, just happened to kiss me. It does not get better than this, at least dying does not.
Your life is passing by, and no matter how old you get in years, if you are not doing something that makes your heart go wild, life will always feel too short. What makes dying so hard, is that you thought you had forever. The good thing? It is never too late to stop and start. Ask yourself: would I mind to die, right now? Now, tomorrow, one day you will, so when it happens, you better be doing what you love. You better be happy when you die.
A big thanks to Mirha for sharing her wonderful insights. In particular her words at the end really touched me and I hope that you felt the same.