Book Review: Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher

See if you can you relate to any of these:

  • you don’t want to specialize in any of the things you love
  • you’re endlessly inquisitive
  • you have an intense curiosity about numerous unrelated subjects
  • you’re always curious to know ‘what’s out there’
  • you spend much time scanning the horizon & thinking about your next move
  • you continually move from one idea to the next

If so, you’re probably what Barbara Sher calls a “Scanner”.

SCANNER: (noun) someone for whom every single thing they see or think sparkles with potential and pulls their attention; they want to do it all!

Also known as: Renaissance person; Jack-of-all-trades; multi-passionate; multipotentialite; polymath; hummingbird person; multipod; squirrel-brain.

Barbara’s passion for helping Scanners (multi-passionates) is evident throughout this book. Here are a few of the quotes I loved most:

…not all Scanners are the same! You still need to find the tips, tools, techniques & life-design models that are right for you.

Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher, page xxvii

…she feels a familiar sense of apprehension that if she doesn’t do something about it right away, she’ll forget it like all the other good ideas she keeps having.

Refuse to Choose, pg.4

If Scanners didn’t think they should limit themselves to one field, 90% of their problems would cease to exist!

Refuse to Choose, pg.5

One of my favorite takeaways from this book was the idea of the “Scanner Daybook“. This is a plain-paper notebook or journal where you write down everything related to being a Scanner — capture your best ideas, and tangents that pull you off those ideas . . . it is meant to be “delightfully out-of-order, impulsive, and unrestrained”.

The best part about this Daybook, though, is that you are not required to DO anything with these thoughts & ideas! You simply notice & write them… no follow-through required!

The very act of considering your explorations worth keeping track of begins changing everything you ever thought about yourself… you’ll find a growing respect for how your mind works.

Refuse to Choose, pg. 13

Barbara writes: “There is zero obligation to act on anything in your Daybook. You simply capture ideas & “play them out on the pages, to see where they go!

Your Daybook lets you go into planning an idea without having to actually produce it… if you never take another step, you’ve had a good time, and risked nothing.” (p.14)

There are a handful of great and practical tools, just like this one, throughout the book.

Barbara also dedicates a chapter to each of the nine (9) types of Scanners she has identified, and gives options for possible career paths for each type (some of which you may never have considered on your own!).

Overall, this is a fantastic book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! It should be on every Scanner’s bookshelf.

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