Autotelic is derived from the Greek words “auto,” meaning self, and “telos,” meaning goal. It is the belief that any action has its own meaning and purpose within itself.
An autotelic sees the world in a different way. Instead of being driven be external world rewards, such as money or recognition, they are much more motivated by internal rewards from creativity and natural experiences. They do not seek out materialistic possessions and are not interested in the typical reward systems that we know well from the world today.
Autotelics are much more independent from the monotonous systems we live in. They tend to fully immerse themselves into the flow of work, family and art. They don’t hold the same value in the rewards of the external world, giving them an immense freedom through their lives.
Here are four typical characteristics of an autotelic so that you can see whether you are one, too.
1. Open to challenges
Autotelics are open to any and all challenge, and they will throw their entire self into a task, even if it is something they have never done before. Their lack of judgement and willingness to try new things means that they can approach any new task with an open mind and find new and alternative ways to complete it. This openness to new challenges gives an autotelic a new sense of excitement and can be intensely gratifying if they complete the task at a high standard.
2. Intense concentration
Once started on a task, the autotelic can go into a state of intense concentration, stopping their brain from thinking about anything but the task at hand. This concentration is so intense that time can begin to warp and appear to speed up, and they lose their sense of self, completely losing themselves in the task at hand. Autotelics can become so involved in a task that you could be speaking directly to them and they wouldn’t be able to hear you.
3. Incredible intuition
Even if an autotelic has never performed a task before, they will quickly and easily figure out a way of doing it. This may not always be the traditional route of the task, and at times can seem a bit outlandish. But when the task is completed, it is of the highest standard they can muster.
This intuition makes autotelics great team leaders, as they know what needs to be done and will quickly find a way of doing it. They also help others along the way and create something amazing by the end.
4. Alternative gratification
Autotelics do not seek the typical materialistic gratification that most people do, such as money, power and fame. Instead, the gratification they feel is internal and much more powerful. This allows them to take action and seek experiences that will only benefit them, and not come at the same cost as typical gratification would. It also gives them a much greater sense of freedom, as they don’t feel tied to external world reward schemes.
If you believe that you may be an autotelic, you should try to train and hone your gift so that you can harness it when you need it.
Start with finding yourself a task.
Make it something that you already know you really enjoy, such as painting or playing an instrument. Beginning with something that you love will make it easier to concentrate on and get into an autotelic flow. Once you are used to this, you can start to try other, more arduous tasks that you do not enjoy as much so that you can find your flow and complete them.
Next, set a goal or series of goals.
Giving yourself a series of clear intentions will make it much easier to formulate a plan about how you are going to carry out the task and get things done. Having an end goal, with smaller goals on the way to it gives you a sense of purpose and makes the task much more enjoyable, as you get gratification as you complete each small goal.
Before you begin, eliminate all external distractions.
At first, it may be difficult to find the flow, as we can easily become distracted by small things that we didn’t even know were present. But the more you practice, the easier it will become. Taking away easy distractions such as phones and laptops can make it much easier for you to find your flow.
Harnessing your autotelic nature can give you a greater sense of purpose, self and feeling of happiness, as you are being true to your real nature and freeing yourself from external powers. Experiences of autotelics can be powerful, and it can lead to great and wonderful outcomes. If you believe that you are an autotelic, these steps will help you on your journey to developing and harnessing your incredible abilities.