Building yourself a house is an incomplete activity, because its end goal—living in the finished house—is not something you can experience while you are building it. Building a house and living in it are fundamentally different things. By contrast, taking a walk in the woods is a complete activity: by walking, you are doing the very thing you wish to do. The first kind of activity is “telic”—that is, directed toward an end, or telos. The second kind is “atelic”: something you do for its own sake.
The secret to avoiding Schopenhauerian ennui, Setiya argues, is either to do things that are complete and atelic or to find ways of engaging with your projects atelically.