Saturday, 18 June 2011

Goal-oriented vs process-oriented motivation

There are heaps of processes that I enjoy far more than the actual end-result.

Crochet is my example.

I'm quite happy to continue crocheting something pretty (it has to be pretty - I don't enjoy crocheting abominations) for a long time and never "owning a crocheted thing" at the end.

Before I hit upon the solution, I spent a long time starting projects - some of which I finished, but lots I didn't... because I didn't care about finishing - just about doing. Of course, couple this with an aversion to destroying something I've already made (which might have solved the problem by turning it into a sisyphean task). and I got a lot of "why don't you ever finish anything?" from my mother.

The question usually comes as "why don't you ever finish anything, don't you want the [crocheted thing] you set out to create?" - and the honest answer is "no".... but if you say that - they ask "well why did you start making it in the first place?"

Most people don't seem to understand enjoying the process - at least not on a gut level...

I actually solved this particular dilemma by giving away my crocheted things to my grandma - who likes owning crocheted doilies et al. Works for embroidery projects too.

Unfortunately, I still tend to get lack of understanding from other people: "but why don't you ever make something for yourself?" I find it *very* hard to explain to goal-oriented people why I don't like crochet... I like crocheting.

I would definitely consider myself to be more process-oriented than goal-oriented. I like doing stuff... I like crocheting, not the goal of having crocheted something in particular. Especially, I like learning - not the feat of "having learned something".

So for me - it's very difficult to go to those "attain your goals" seminars etc - because I don't have set goals. I can't point at something and say I want to have achieved precisely that thing, because for me, the thing itself doesn't matter.

It can be frustrating, because I certainly do want to improve over time. I crochet better and more complicated things, I study more challenging topics that build on past learning that I enjoyed. but I can't necessarily quantify that I want to "learn X".

Because there is no X... or at least no specific X.

and then people tell me I'm drifting and that I'll "never accomplish anything"... but accomplishing specific things for me isn't the point. I enjoy the act, not necessarily the achievement.

Of course, over time, I *do* accomplish things - because if you continue to, say, crochet over a long period of time, eventually you will have piled up a very large back catalogue of doilies... and the same goes for learning or whatever other process you enjoy. Which I can then, of course, show to my mother...

who then invariably says "but why don't you finish the ones that are still in your cupboard?"

*sigh*

4 comments:

Amy said...

I found this while reading about process-orientation, to see what others had to say... I have a sewing&fashion blog where I muse on dressmaking but find I love the experimental process so much more than anything else. I'm with you completely. I love theory, and any hobby or craft I pursue inevitably ends up a series of theoretical experiments. I almost never have "I want to learn X" in mind. Many, many great teachers and inventors are like this. My personal "back catalog" is a shelf full of containers of sweet pea seeds, leftover from a very, very long experiment in home hybridizing. Never mind I didn't have enough space to plant them. It's quite hilarious but I loved every bit of it. Perhaps someday it will not be so much about "doing" something with them, but teaching others about hybridizing.

Taryn said...

ooh, peas, cool. Sounds like Mendel's experiments. I quite like gardening myself, and have collected seeds - but never got to the stage of deliberate hybridisation (never really had a garden for enough consecutive growing seasons).

I'm curious - what sorts of hybridisations were you playing with, and what did you end up with? any surprises?

Amy said...

Haha, I actually read some of Mendel's stuff, I got all geeked out. There is one very old variety of flowering sweet peas ("Painted Lady") that blooms kind of early in Texas (sometimes as early as New Year's) and I was curious what would happen if I started breeding them with other colors, since most sweet peas only bloom after the equinox. I wish they were as popular here as in England and I'm sure it has been done before on a large scale, but I was curious if I'd actually get blooming flowers out of them. I did, but they were all the same as the male plant. I just need more garden space for controlled experimenting!

saki said...

COURSE OF ACTIONS IS MORE IMPORTANT (THAN END-RESULT). I AM TIRED OF EXPLAINING THIS TO PEOPLE. PROCESS HAS MORE MEANING ATTACHED TO IT. EVEN CONSEQUENCE DEPENDS UPON WHAT YOU DO. BUT WE DWELL SO MUCH IN ENJOYING THE SUCCESS AND MATERIAL POSSESSIONS, WE OFTEN FAIL TO REALIZE OR IGNORE THE FACT THAT A 'RIGHT' STEP HAS TO BE TAKEN AT EVERY SINGLE POINT OF TIME. BEAUTY IS IN DISCOVERY, DOING THING IN A 'CORRECT' WAY, NEITHER IN IGNORANCE THAT PRECEDES IT NOR IN 'GAINING A DROP OF KNOWLEDGE' THAT SUCCEEDS IT.