October 17, 2008
Refuse to Choose: A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love by Barbara Sher
Do you have many interests and can’t decide what to pursue? Never finish a project, because your attention all too quickly drifts to the next idea? Then perhaps you’re a Scanner, suggests author & life-coach Barbara Sher. Throughout much of history, generalists- “Renaissance” people were admired. She traces the fall of generalists and the rise of specialists to the Cold War, in which science and math were emphasized in order to compete with the U.S.S.R. Later in the book Sher divides Scanners up into different types based on their behavior and tendencies. She suggests career strategies for each of them.
I’ve always had many different interests- over the years some fell by the wayside while others remained, and new interests emerged. But unlike some of Sher’s clients, I’ve never felt there was anything wrong with this, or felt pressure to choose one as a career. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, the way I was raised or what. But I did find the ideas in her book useful in giving me more focus in my various pursuits. One idea she discusses throughout the book is that of a “Scanner Daybook” a journal/sketchbook for jotting down ideas and exploring them. Another idea I found helpful is to try organizing my hobbies into a sort of “class schedule” spending an hour or so on each at different times. Refuse to Choose is an amazing guidebook of tools and strategies for “Scanners” draw upon to use their many skills and interests to their advantage both in their professional and personal lives. I recommend it to anyone who struggles with choosing between different passions.