Getting to the point: An exploration of sustaining engagement in non-essential occupations
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Relatively little has been described by occupational therapists and occupational scientists about motivational processes underpinning the ongoing doing of nonessential occupations. Knowing about factors contributing to sustained engagement will provide a base for effective interventions in situations where individuals experience functional problems related to motivation. This qualitative, interpretive descriptive study sought to understand factors motivating the sustained engagement in non-survival occupations. Ten participants, each of whom have a passionate interest in an occupation they do not need to do, were recruited using purposive snowball sampling. Semi-structured interviews were conducted about their motivations for initiating and sustaining their doing. Data analysis occurred concurrently with data collection, using coding, and then grouping of codes into categories. Data analysis was guided by broad questions, to keep a focus on the overall data set. Participants were motivated to sustain their doing by complex interactions between a range of push and pull factors that ultimately result in positive feelings or contribute to a sense of inner strength. Three key factors operated. These were the attraction to what one values and enjoys, the anticipation of reaching a point in their doing (including achieving something), and doing because it is what one does. Individuals continued doing even when it was not always enjoyed due to the anticipation of achievement. The quality and intensity of drive towards doing varied between participants. Compelling pull and committed push underpinned motivation in differing degrees. Individuals could be passionate about their doing even when they did not feel compelled to do, and often there was effort involved in continuing. Occupational involvement was not repetitious but developed over time, helping to sustain interest and prevent boredom. Participants faced varying levels of challenge in their occupations. Challenge could be interesting and enjoyable, or demanding. Participants persevered through challenging circumstances and challenges contributed to further engagement by providing opportunities for a sense of achievement. Therapists need to be mindful of the importance that reaching a point of achievement has in motivating individuals. Understanding how compulsion and commitment can underlie doing may also help to guide assessment and intervention. It is recommended that future research explores motivation in less passionate individuals, and those who experience issues impacting on their motivation to do. It should also explore the relationship between compelling doing and committed doing, and cross multiple occupations.
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