The Pursuit of Passion = Doing things for their own sake

by phil on Friday Jun 25, 2004 2:46 PM
passion and purpose

In order to effectively engage in an activity, you have to care about the activity for its own sake.

If you are working to make money, if you are writing a book to become famous, or if you are blogging because you want attention, then you will not truly squeeze the passion out of that process.

I learned this in 1997 when I entered a web design contest just to win. I lost the competition, but I also wasted my time because I didn't learn any new skills nor did I enjoy what I was doing. In 1998, I re-entered the same competition, but this time with the idea that I was doing it to learn and have a good time. By the time I was finished with my project, I already felt satisfied, and because I was so passionate about the process, I ended up winning the contest anyways.

I think Bob Ryskamp referred to this process as "autotelic," whereby you do the activity for "its own sake." auto = self, telic = teleos end, result, but more like intent.

I came to this idea when I found myself unable to blog. I realized that I was blogging for many other reasons, such as ego, but not for the activity's primary usage: to journal. If I elect "to journal" as the prime motivation, then blogging will come more fluidly.

Is what you are doing, autotelic?


Bob Ryskamp said on June 28, 2004 11:31 PM:

It was "autotelic", a word I first noticed in the book Flow by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi.

More on my New Year's autotelic resolutions.

My current hunch is that few things are naturally autotelic, but that the way you go about them can make almost anything so. With strict scheduling, goal-setting, and personal accountability (I know, sounds like fun), most things can be enjoyable. That's Mihaly's argument, anyway...

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