Do you ever have one of those light bulb moments? I recently did, and it’s probably one of the best things that’s happened to me in years. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an article from the UK magazine Psychologies called What do you do when you want to do everything? Of course the title intrigued me and as I kept reading, I kept thinking, yep, that’s me alright. The article goes on to mention a book by Barbara Sher of the same title, which happens to be sold in the USA as “Refuse To Choose“. I decided to buy right after reading this article. As I started reading it, nodding my head in agreement, I had an epiphany: I am a scanner, and there’s nothing wrong with me!
So who are scanners and divers? You’ll either be one or the other, but you can’t be both. Most people are divers, which means they usually stick to one career path, maybe one hobby (which may change over time) and they focus deeply on them. They become “specialists” in their areas of interest and want to learn as much as they can about them.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are scanners. They tend to be curious not about one thing, but many (not specifically all at once). They don’t like to specialize in an individual field as they find the outlook too restrictive. They enjoy learning about a new subject but eventually get bored once they understand it and move on to another area, job, interest or hobby. Here are a few questions that Barbara Sher asks at the beginning of her book, Refuse To Choose. You don’t have to answer yes to every single question, but if you do to most, you may be a scanner.
Many times in my life I have heard people tell me, why don’t you pick one thing and just go with it? You already have experience in this, or a degree in that field. Just stick to it! And that’s been my problem all along. I don’t want to stick to single one thing for my whole life. How boring would that be? To me, life has so much more to offer than a small slice of pie. I want to have it all! Well, technically, I don’t want all of it but I do have a few interests close to my heart I want to be able to entertain on a regular basis. So this is my life as a scanner, the way I’d like it to be from now on, in no particular order (well, except for the first one on the list):
I am a mother, a teacher, a photographer, a linguist, a reader, a mentor, an artist, a writer, a volunteer and a lifelong learner.
Putting it down on paper makes me realize my list isn’t that long, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do it all. Barbara Sher even helped me figure out what type of scanner I am (a cyclical Sybil scanner), so I can plan my life around my many interests. I’m really looking forward to this new way of thinking, and living.
If you’re a scanner, you may enjoy Barbara Sher’s book, as well as The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life – A Creative and Practical Guide by Margaret Lobenstine, which I also read recently.
Do you consider a scanner or a diver? (No wrong answer here). What do you consider your main life interest(s)?