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Refuse to choose

Are you one of those people who can’t seem to decide on a career? Have you struggled for months (YEARS!) trying to figure out that one career that makes the most sense? Do you cringe whenever you hear “follow your passion” and “do the work you love?” If yes, you are not alone.

I have struggled right along with you (for YEARS) trying to determine which career to focus my attention on. I was under the impression that you had to pick just one. This all started in middle school when my parents sat me down and told me I had to get serious about my academic career and needed to figure out which career path I wanted to follow. I did not take this well and subsequently suffered for years afterwards trying to figure this out.

It wasn’t until recently when I rediscovered Barbara Sher’s book Refuse to Choose! that I finally gave in to the fact that I’m a scanner. According to Barbara, a scanner is someone who loves to do a variety of things (often simultaneously) and isn’t satisfied focusing on only one thing. They CANNOT only do one thing. They are not built that way. Focusing on only one thing drives a scanner crazy and leaves them deeply dissatisfied. 

I read the book back in 2006 when it came out but for some reason it’s taken rediscovering it in 2014 for it to really sink in.

You may be a scanner if…

  • You’re passionate about a bunch of things all at once.
  • You’re inundated with loads of ideas and you want to do them all (simultaneously).
  • The idea of only doing one career for the rest of your life freaks you out. How will you decide?
  • You feel like you can never stick with one thing.
  • You can’t choose one career path because you fear it’ll be the wrong one (and you’ll be stuck forever).
  • You have several projects going at once with new interests popping up regularly.
  • You can’t stand to do anything twice.
  • You’re afraid you’ll miss out on something.

If you’re a scanner, hello and welcome to our crazy world. Yes, we may not fit societal’s mold of picking one career for the rest of our lives, but once you get comfortable knowing that this is who you are, then you can relax and get on what you really want to do: EVERYTHING!

Not surprisingly, scanners come in all varieties ranging from cyclical scanners (who have four to five major areas of interest) to the Sybil (whose list of interest is endless and always expanding). No matter which type you are, there is a way to manage all of what you want to do with ease and grace and without losing your head.

Since graduating from college (communication major – can’t get much more broad), I’ve dabbled in marketing, publishing, writing (novels), journalism (writing boring financial articles), editing, graphic design, web design, real estate (briefly held a real estate license), life coaching, photography, and akashic readings. I’ve held full time jobs, telecommuting jobs, freelance jobs and owned my own businesses (multiple). I’ve been a managing editor, marketing coordinator, staffing sales associate, real estate agent, web designer, graphic designer, writer, proofreader, photographer, life coach and akashic records practitioner. A lot of these I’ve done simultaneously and continue to do (at least four). 

So, you see, you are not alone.

the scanner toolkit

It’s one thing to know you’re a scanner, it’s another to know what to do about it. 

The first tool Barbara suggests every scanner use is the SCANNER DAYBOOK. It’s a notebook dedicated to capturing all your thoughts and ideas so you have them in one place and easily accessible. You can do this in a notebook or online using Pinterest or bookmarks. Whatever works for you. I personally have a notebook where I capture everything. I call it my dream journal and it gives me comfort knowing all my great ideas are tucked away in there waiting.

The second is the WALL CALENDAR POSTER which is a six year calendar (you can make it yourself using poster board) used for marking down all the projects you want to do and giving them deadlines (times). I use this in a different way – writing out all my projects in a spreadsheet with deadlines. I break down each project (like write a new novel) down into bite size chucks (like develop a storyline) and assign deadlines to each chunk. I then sort them in order of their deadlines and waalaa – I have a workable “to do” list that helps me to manage all that I want to do.

Barbara also suggests using STICKY NOTES as a solution to capturing ideas and recommends sticking them everywhere.

I am so grateful for having found this book and to have stopped struggling with trying to nail down one career focus. As you can see from my website, I’m an intuitive life coach, akashic practitioner, photographer and writer and wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I’d love to hear about your experiences as a scanner. It’s helpful to know we’re not alone.