Barbara Sher, in her book Refuse to Choose: Use All Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams describes scanners as talented people interested in and curious about many things. They have little desire to pursue one interest or one career as that might be limiting or boring.
Scanners may think: "I can never stick to anything. I keep going off on tangents." Or, "I keep changing my mind about what I want to do and end up doing nothing."
This can be a frustrating situation for scanners until they understand that they actually have an incredible gift if understood and harnessed.
Sher suggests that scanners not limit themselves, but go after all of their interests and appreciate their multi-talented brains.
This weekend, as I listened on my computer to Trombone Shorty perform at Jazz Fest in New Orleans, I did an exercise from Sher's book. Her instructions say to make a quick list of one's experiences, accomplishments and projects, large and small.
Here is my list in no particular order:
- Trekked in Nepal
- Researched new bicycle and hiking trips for Backroads, Inc. in Patagonia, Japan, France, England, South Africa, Utah, Vermont and Virginia
- Learned to play by ear some Irish and Cajun fiddle tunes
- Practiced yoga, Pilates, meditation
- Grew a vegetable garden with yummy tomatoes, jack-in-the beanstalk beans, and fragrant lemon verbena
- Trained as an Integral Coach with New Ventures West
- Bicycled in Bali, France, Thailand, Baja, Spain and Portugal, Canada, California, Utah, New Mexico, Hawaii
- Sat an eight day silent retreat and am writing a book about it
- Took care of my mom for two years when she was in the early to mid-stages of Alzheimer's disease
- Received an M. A. in Counseling Psychology
- Took ballet, modern, improvisation, jazz, tap, salsa, Israeli and Balkan folk, Cajun, Brazilian, flamenco, contra and West Coast swing dance classes
- Shot lots of photographs
- Started a coaching and consulting business
- Performed as a "Jet" dancer in West Side Story
- Served as Executive Director of Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center
- Made by hand (not all at the same time) bagels, scones, and whole wheat breads that were delicious
This list took me about 10 minutes and was fun to put together. I encourage you to begin a list too.
This exercise is designed to help scanners and others see that they have indeed accomplished many things, even though it may not feel that way. You may not be a scanner, but you undoubtedly know some. Or, like me may have some characteristics of scanners and not others.
I heartily recommend this book for the descriptions of scanners and the tools, like the list above, for helping scanners to understand and appreciate their unique talents and to act on their interests.