A Critical Distinction You Must Make (Outcome or Doing?) - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

A Critical Distinction You Must Make (Outcome or Doing?)


To some degree, all people are both outcome oriented and process oriented.  This means that all people are both destination and journey oriented.  The question is, to what degree?  Some people derive much more pleasure and energy out of achievement and some derive much more pleasure and effort out of process.  There is an idea floating around the self-help/spiritual community that it is much better to be about the journey than the destination or to be about the process rather than the outcome.  In reality, both offer a different kind of energy to your life.  In reality, neither orientation is superior or inferior to the other.  But, in order to live a fulfilling life, one must be conscious about distinguishing between what they enjoy for the outcome and what they enjoy for the process.  And with that, one must make sure that this conscious distinction causes them to make the right decisions.

For the sake of understanding this concept, let’s say that there are three camps to sort things into.

  1. Camp one is things that you love doing for the outcome.  These are things for which if the outcome ceased to exist, you would not derive enough pleasure out of the doing of it to continue. So, these are things where the outcome, end goal, destination or achievement makes the process pleasurable.
  2. Camp two is things that you love doing for the doing of them.  These are things for which even if there was no outcome, end goal, destination or achievement; OR even if the outcome, goal, achievement, or destination that does exist never came about, you’d still do it because the process, or the doing of it is what you love.
  3. Camp three is things that you do solely for an outcome.  These are things for which the outcome, end goal, destination or achievement does not ever make the process pleasurable.  It is literally and only a “so that ______.”

I want you to look at the things you do in your life and decide what things go into what camp.  You can make an organized list if you want.  Keep in mind that every person will divide up the things they do into different camps.  There is no right or wrong answer here.  There is no camp that is right or wrong.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. One person may put cooking into camp one because they like to cook, but if they imagine their cooking never resulting in a good finished product, they may find they don’t like the process of cooking (like cutting things up and putting things over fire and selecting ingredients) in and of itself unless they can produce a result.  One person may put cooking into camp two because even if they never got to see a result or even if they didn’t end up with a good finished product, they love the process of cooking.  One person may put cooking into camp three because they dislike the process of cooking and even the outcome doesn’t do anything for them, but they choose to do it so that they create relationship security or so that they don’t feel like a bad person.

Another example is that one person may put exercise into camp one because they like to exercise, but primarily because it makes their body look good.  If they imagine getting no results in terms of physical appearance, they don’t like the actual process of exercising enough to keep it up. One person may put exercise into camp two because they love the in the moment experience of exercise and would do it because they love doing it, no matter the result.  One person may put exercise in camp three because they hate exercising and don’t even get anything out of results.  But they may do it to maintain closeness with a friend or lover of theirs who loves exercise and who they want approval from.  If you want to learn more about the danger of filling the majority of your life with things to do that fit into this third camp, you can also watch my video titled:  If You Want To Be Happy, Don’t Do This!

As you are doing this exercise for the different sectors of your life, it is a good idea to break those sectors down into specific tasks.  For example, a person’s entire job may fit into camp three for them. But maybe balancing spreadsheets, which is one element of their career is something they love to do and would in fact fit into camp two.

Making the right conscious choices for yourself, as well as sorting through why you may not have the life satisfaction that you want relative to what you are doing, is easier when you know what camp things in your life fit into.  For example, imagine that you discover that writing fits into camp one for you.  You only like the process of it, if it results in a book that other people love.  It will no longer be a mystery why you aren’t as happy and why your motivation to write disappears if people do not love the book you wrote.  Or for example, imagine that you discover that talking fits into camp two for you.  You may now see talking as something that gives you energy when you do it, so whenever you feel depleted, you can find someone to talk to.  Or for example, if you discover that shopping fits into camp three for you.  It will be easier to find another way to meet the need that shopping is meeting, but directly and in a different way.

There are potential pitfalls inherent in each camp.  Rather than tell you what they are, I’d like you to think on it.  That being said, it is important to know that when it comes to creating a life that feels good and when it comes to making the right, conscious choices for yourself in a given situation, it is important to know what camp the things in your life fit into.  Let yourself be both process oriented and outcome oriented.  Let yourself be both destination oriented and journey oriented.  Afterall, you already are.  Just be conscious about it!






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