Part 2 of S Pavlina's article.
Let Curiosity Be EnoughWhen only curiosity is present, it's tempting to demand that it justify itself with the promise of practical value. But curiosity doesn't work that way. We begin with a desire to explore and experience something new, but it's merely a seed. We can't predict what will become of that seed until we plant it.
These seeds may grow into fountains of value years later. Or they may remain side hobbies or casual interests. Demanding advance validation from these seeds is like telling to baby to go out and get a job. You have to nurture the seed for years to see what becomes of it.
Recently I decided to follow my curiosity without knowing where it will lead. I've been feeling the urge to refresh my programming skills since I haven't done any serious programming in about a decade. I don't have any specific projects lined up. I just felt an intuitive nudge about it.
So this weekend I started playing around with Xcode, a development tool for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. I learned the syntax of Objective-C and went through several online tutorials. I wrote my first little iPhone/iPad app to draw a fractal and posted a picture of it on my Google+ page. I'd never written an iPhone app before, so it was rewarding to do that for the first time. It was easier than I expected.
Where will this lead? I have no idea. Maybe I'll write an app that ties into my personal growth work. Maybe it will remain a side hobby. Or maybe I'll lose interest within a week or two and explore other interests. I'm not demanding any sort of payoff from this. It's enough to honor my curiosity.
Partly I feel that the excitement is in not knowing where this will lead. Sometimes it's nice to enjoy some mystery in life. Not all desires can be formed into goals.
When I pursue interests out of sheer curiosity, they do often lead to valuable connections and payoffs down the road. However, there's also a powerful present moment benefit to such pursuits. When you follow your curiosity, you can experience some potent psychological rewards along the way. First, you have the pleasurable anticipation of knowing that you're going to learn something new, and secondly you have the satisfaction that comes with each new insight. This helps you feel good in general, even when you're not pursuing that particular interest, and this can greatly improve overall quality of life.
What are you curious about? What would you like to learn just because it interests you?
Have you been demanding that a curiosity-based interest justify its place in your life, such as by guaranteeing a financial payoff?
What would happen if you could dive in and pursue a new interest merely to satisfy your curiosity and honor your intuition? Could you let that be enough?
Years down the road, you may indeed find that you can connect the dots, just as Steve Jobs did. But for right now, could you let go of any psychological baggage and do it just because it might be interesting in the moment?