I have written about my hobbies before, and how I wouldn’t call them side hustles as much as they are learning opportunities.
For instance, I like to repair old radios. I also like to buy and resell things on eBay. I have a newfound interest in film photography too. These are not “side hustles” for me but chances to teach myself new skills.
But at times I feel guilty for not drilling into a niche and being really good at one thing. I just can’t focus too long before I become interested in another subject or project. I thought it might be a character flaw but then I discovered Anjali Aria’s interesting article on Medium about side hustles, and came across a quote from Laraine Domingo describing a new concept (to me at least) about an autotelic activity…
I was recently introduced to the concept of “autotelic” activities, which are the activities we practice in our lives for no other purpose than just to feel or experience what is within it. We also do a lot of “exotelic” activities, or activities that have a purpose (ie. work because we need money, eat because we’re hungry, exercise because we want to be healthy.) Autotelic activities have no real “because”. Side hustles therefore are autotelic, and they give our minds, bodies, and souls a break from the pressures or demands that come from our exotelic activities. – Laraine Domingo
When I researched the characteristics of someone with an autotelic personality, I immediately identified. I found a great list of characteristics from The Autotelic Personality: Finding Happiness in Flow by C Wilson Meloncelli:
Characteristics of a Person with Autotelic Personality
– Persistent: A person with Autotelic Personality remains on course in spite of difficulty or conflict.
– Curious: A person with Autotelic Personality has a limitless desire to learn and discover.
– Low Self-centered: A person with Autotelic Personality, just like being in the Flow State, the sense of self is being lost.
– Open to Experience: People with Autotelic Personality expand their possibilities, learn from others, adapt to new situations, and adopt new ideas.
– Action-Orientation: This time, the colloquial term, “Go with the Flow” does not apply. People with Autotelic Personality play with the edge of their abilities.
– Positive: A person with Autotelic Personality has a high hope for success and low fear of failure.
– Internal Locus of Control: Compared to External Locus of Control, which is the belief that results are commanded by powerful others, environmental influences, or chance, Individual who adopt in Internal Locus of Control believe that the outcomes and events are in their control.
– Internal Drive: People with Autotelic Personality have a high rate of performing acts for essential reasons. They are less influenced by money, prestige, and other extrinsic factors.
– Loves Challenge: People with Autotelic Personality have a higher likelihood of participating in hobbies and taking on challenges.
– Willing to Learn: Enhancing one’s skills is inevitable when flow is involved. A person with Autotelic Personality is willing to learn about its limits.
– A disposition to actively seek and create optimal challenges.
Almost all of these characteristics apply and made me feel more confident in my ability to dabble in a lot of different things.
My hobbies teach me new concepts, but also patience, as many times something doesn’t go the way I planned and I have to stop and learn why in order to figure out a solution to the problem. Instead of quitting in frustration, I accept the challenge and do my best to solve the problem. I don’t just give up. I enjoy the challenge and during these times I find myself in a flow state.
So, here’s to my autotelic friends…let’s stop beating ourselves up for our crazy interests and go find another new challenge soon.