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Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your…
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Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to… (2006)

by Barbara Sher

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Subtitle: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams
  Elishibai | Jun 4, 2017 |
It is such a relief to see it in writing: a permission to do what interests you, without having to settle on that one thing, without having to spend years perfecting your skills - skimming and skipping and scanning. Parents tell children they have to finish what they started, they have to become an expert in something. That does not necessarily have to be that way: you can also spend time trying things out, changing the focus and interests. It was great to see that there is someone who clearly understands how that may feels. I am not sure about the way the book is written, and the many examples, but this is a self help book and it has got that form, and it works. ( )
  flydodofly | Dec 25, 2015 |
Where I got the book: my local library.

My name is Jane, and I . . . am a Scanner.

At last someone has put a name to what I tend to think of as my Low Boredom Threshold. My ability to get interested in a great many different things has resulted in a good many careers (some carried on simultaneously), far too many hours in higher ed. and a general feeling of frustration that I’ll never be able to get my life “together.” It wasn’t until I rather unexpectedly quit a job in 2009 (long story) and, instead of rushing to find another one, allowed myself a few weeks to think about what I really wanted, that it occurred to me the one thread that had always run through my jobs was writing. It was either what people hired me for or what they discovered I was good at after a short while on the job. “Jane, you are a writer,” I said to myself. And I was right! I’d finally discovered the activity that never got boring because there was always something new to write about and always something about writing to learn.

Barbara Sher gives the name Scanner to those of us who have multiple interests and don’t want to spend their lives working on one career. How we envy those who are engaged enough in their everyday jobs to stick with them, working their way up the career ladder to the merry tune of promotions and pay raises. We thought we’d finally found our niche, and here we are a year later, bored out of our skulls. What’s the solution?

Sher comes up with several. She tells us that we really can have it all, if we look at our lives the right way. Many of her suggestions for careers and productivity techniques suited to our particular needs are so mouthwatering I wanted to get started on all of them right away . . . heh . . . . Of course no guru can suggest a course of action that suits every reader perfectly, and I quickly found myself thinking about how to adapt one or two of her ideas to my own working methods. I made a list of the most likely techniques in my Daybook. I shall forever be grateful to Barbara Sher for the idea of a Daybook, which has become my go-to place to write down all those lists and brainstorming that kept invading my journal, to the point where I’d stopped journaling because it was annoying me. Now I can download all that stuff into my Daybook and maybe I can begin journaling again.

Sher identifies several different kinds of Scanner—I thought it was hilarious that every time I started a new chapter about a different kind of Scanner I thought “Oh hey, that’s so me.” Because we’ve got these brains that go in all sorts of different directions—mine never works quite the same from one day to the next. I’m finally learning to appreciate the value of being able to read about something, connect it to something else and come up with a completely new idea—now I just have to learn how to turn those ideas into something solid that I won’t get bored with. The way I describe it is that my brain fizzes—it seems to need new ideas like a whale needs plankton, and excretes them at high speed like—what, exactly, do whales poop out? On some days, that is, when I’m not so overwhelmed that the fog descends and I can barely get anything done.

Anyone who’s followed my reviews for a while will know that I generally get very snarky over self-help books but this one, I liked. I’m going to stick my neck out and give it five stars for being a self-help book that was actually worth my attention from cover to cover, even if I did find it a bit heavy on examples at times. It might even be worth re-reading at some point in the future. ( )
  JaneSteen | Jan 5, 2015 |
Great read for people who have lots of interests, bounce from idea to idea, and want to find more time to do them all. Now if I can just get organized enough to get started. Scanners, unite!
( )
  GovMarley | Sep 22, 2013 |
This was kind of interesting, and I'm definitely one of these "scanner" people that she talks about.
However, for people like me who have way too many projects going on (all of which are unfinished), the last thing I want to do is make some complicated scrapbook thing that I have to write in every day!

Oh, and one other thing, I liked that she said that most people don't understand that to a "scanner", being bored is the absolute worst thing that can happen. I just thought I was crazy, but it's true, I will go and BUY a book rather than be stuck somewhere with nothing to do, even if it's just lunch. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
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I wish someone would just shake me and tell me exactly what to do with my life. I hate getting excited over something and being reminded by a well-meaning friend of all other things I've tried and failed. Will I ever actually get to use what's inside me? Will anyone know I was here? Charlotte, a Scanner.

Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Only give me the chance to do my very best! Isak Dinesen
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To my grandson Leo
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I should have realized I wasn't a normal student my first week of college, when I looked at the catalog of classes and started to cry.
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Lifestyle coach Sher discusses the "Scanner"--someone who frequently has a multiplicity of interests, but finds it hard to create a successful life, because their passions and abilities are taking them in so many different directions. Sher identifies seven types of Scanners--ranging from the Serial Specialist (someone who learns all about one subject, only to get bored and need to move on to the next) to Sybil (a person with so many areas of interest, she can't finish a thing). Sher counsels Scanners that theirs is a unique ability, not a liability, and contends that Scanners must do everything they love, not zero in on one pursuit at the expense of all others. She offers techniques to free people from "goal paralysis," and shows how people can stop thinking of themselves as dabblers or dilettantes and find innovative ways to live lives of variety, challenge and joy.--From publisher description.… (more)

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