I recently stumbled on a Ted talk given by Barbara Sher, a career/lifestyle coach and bestselling author. While her speech is totally unrelated to the title of this post, the optimism in her delivery got more of my attention than her talk and I couldn’t help but find out more about the women behind the talk. So off to Wikipedia I went and there I learnt that she has authored 8 books (5 bestsellers) and one of her books titled:‘Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams’ caught my interest. This revolutionary book (as it is being referred to) centres on one key message: You can do anything and everything… You don’t have to choose!
Now for someone like me who has battled with choosing a path in life, and even when I feel I have found my ‘True Calling’ (if that really exists in my universe), I’m constantly looking for opportunities to collaborate with a sector totally different from what I’m used to just because I am happy to learn and develop new skills in that area too. Trust me, this battle is one I am all too familiar with.
For instance, as a child, my life’s dream was to be a circus act or a gymnast. And I have scars on my leg and upper arm to show for my dedication towards this goal when I was barely 8 years old. These scars I got from turning window panes and burglary-proof in my house into props – my very own circus set. Then in secondary school, I was so sure I could be a successful doctor or a lawyer. Why you ask? Well I aced all my science and art subjects, was part of the debating team and I also loved to argue about anything and everything just for the thrill of seeing my opponent(s) break a sweat or two.
I got into university and actually enrolled to study Creative Arts. I was going to be the next big thing on television. But a year later, I decided I wanted something totally different. So I enrolled into another department. This time around, I was spoilt for options. I could either be a journalist, a broadcaster or a branding/advertising guru. By the time I finished school I wanted none of it – except for the writing part of course.
For so long, I envied friends and classmates who knew exactly what they wanted to do after graduation. With dedication and singleness of purpose, all were focused and determined to make that One passion a reality in their lives. At that point, I tried attending as many career counselling and motivational seminars that I could find but none helped in my quest to find a single passion. Most Lifestyle coaches say: ‘What is that One thing you are passionate about? Figure it out, go do it and success will follow you’. I stopped attending such seminars because I knew I had more than ONE passion.
So you can imagine my excitement when I realised last week (after 30 decades of existence) that I wasn’t broken! I didn’t need fixing! I was not suffering from indecision, neither do I always want to eat my cake and have it or be Jack of all trade and master of none! I also realised I was not involving myself in so many projects just so I could prove a point or get an accolade for it. The answer is No my friends. I have come to realise that I can’t help myself when it comes to focusing on just ONE particular thing! I can’t because I wasn’t wired that way. Barbara Sher made me understand that I am the way I am simply because I am a human Scanner!
Did I hear you say, ‘What is she implying?’ while rolling your eyes and twitching your face in a horizontal fashion. Oh well, it is what it is. Let me break it down for you…
You see, human Scanners are individuals who can’t stay still or focus on a single project because they are always looking for new opportunities. They change passions and career paths as often as you would change my little nephew’s dippers. They are people who have more unexecuted projects than anybody you have ever met. They can be very intelligent, creative and self-motivated, yet, they are constantly in a state of flux, often being swept away by new passion which never lasts enough for any meaningful thing to be achieved. Not that they don’t execute projects, but chances are they are likely to get bored at some point in time. When this happens, they move on to a new project while the old is left unattended to because the new project gets 100% of their devotion. Hence, they procrastinate because prioritising has never been their strongest suit. Does any of this qualities sound familiar? Or do you know someone like this?
Well, it is not all gloomy as it looks. This is the part I am most excited about and will be sharing with you in weeks to come on how to keep the passion burning for both old and new projects. I hope to show you how to get organised without causing any damage to any of your numerous passions/projects. In essence, I hope you can glean from me (as I have from Barbra Sher) on how you can keep all your passions, projects and dreams alive! It will also enable you do more and achieve more without having to make a choice.
Until then, Stop Choosing and Embrace being the Human Scanner that you are. If anyone begs to differ, tell them ‘…because Barbra Sher said so’!
P.S: Below are some useful links and resources I thought you may find useful:
Refuse to Choose!: A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love – By Barbara Sher
The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One – Margaret Lobenstine
I’m currently reading Refuse to choose at the moment. So helpful in helping me work out where I want to go from here with my work. Love your blog.
Thanks a lot for stopping by and I’m glad to know you are reading Refuse to Choose and that you have found the book useful. It has been very helpful for me too especially at this point in my life.
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Bit late to the party but just did a blog post on this and wanted to see who else had read the book. Always great to meet another Scanner!
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Sorry this is coming rather late… but you made my day… and like you said, it’s always good to meet another Scanner!