possibly the most reassuring advice I’ve been given (sunday life)

Posted on April 17th, 2011

This week I realise I’m a scanner. Which is to say, I realise my chaotic, excited way of being, and all the dreams I juggle, makes sense!

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On Tuesday I got great news. All these years I’ve regarded the crazy array of careers I’ve dabbled in (restaurant reviewer, political speechwriter, TV dollybird, magazine editor and so on with no discernible theme), the disparate topics of interests displayed on my bookshelf (evolutionary biology to typography), and the endless hobbies I engage with, as signs of a weak, unfocused character. I’m a spray gun! A jack of too many trades and master of jack shit! A dilettante!

But Tuesday I was told I’m none of those things.

No, I’m a “scanner”.

New York-based author Barbara Sher, who coined the term, reckons I’m a classic case. A scanner, she tells me, is genetically wired to be fanatically interested in multiple things at once. “You love everything, right!” Well, yes. “But you get bored and go off on tangents! And you think it’s bad that you keep quitting things and moving on!” Yes, yes, I do! “Don’t! Have some fun with it instead!”

At 75, Sher’s written seven bestselling books, including Refuse to Choose! (a comfort manual for scanners), travels year-round on the speakers circuit (and is regarded as the godmother of self-help; the Observer ranked her in their Top Ten Self Help Gurus list in January), reads geography texts and spends spring in Turkey teaching e-commerce to village weavers. She breathes scanner theory.

Until the mid-1950s, scanners ruled the parlors and dinner parties with their erudite contributions on poetry, music, politics and science. From Aristotle to Asimov, generalists were people you wanted in your circle. Sher says the space race changed that. Funding to the liberal arts was cut and specialising (specifically in science and technology) became de rigour, while scanning was seen as irresponsible and somehow flabby.

Sher says scanners have come to doubt themselves terribly. We can’t decide on the one career path, because what if it’s the wrong one. We frantically think we need to focus, become an expert in something, but get bored when we have to do anything twice.

Her antidote?

Do everything and don’t finish any of it.

If you’re a scanner, such an idea has a delightfully twisted appeal, doesn’t it. Sher suggests keeping a “scanner daybook” in which you jot down every idea that excites you. I usually skip bits in self-help books that require taking out pen and paper, but this week I gave her daybook a crack. All the flotsam of potentialities that bounce around my cranium – ideas for radio shows, a herbal tea concept, a poncho product with profits going to a Peruvian village – got a fresh page each. I fleshed each one out, adding layers of revenue leverage and so on. Then I moved on to the next hair-brained project. Scanners are often very frustrated folk – they feel they’ll never get to all their ideas in one lifetime, which stops them from starting any, which in turn leaves them feeling resentful about the endless stream of exciting ideas that bubble in their brains. But this technique legitimizes the idea-forming process. And funnily enough, it was enough. Just fleshing them out satiated me. Who knows, one day I might come back to that charity poncho idea.

“Scanners are often deluded about how indepth their interest goes,” Sher says. Often we just need to play out the idea. Then move on. Or stay in a job right until the moment we stop learning. Then quit. “Scanners learn fast and need to move their passion onwards. A bee doesn’t hover on a flower if it draws the nectar quickly. Its passion isn’t the flower, it’s gathering nectar.”

Of course, we all have to finish stuff we start and hold down jobs. The godmotherly guru advises getting tasks finished by working in short sprints and developing a “scanner bag of tricks”, like taking notes of the banal conversations overheard from your dreary cubicle as you finish your annual report. And she suggests seeking out jobs that require generalist, pick-the-best-bits-and-reconfigure skills – from freelance writing to catalogue compiling. Or creating your own job, like the guy who wrote the ebook 100 Way to Get Rid of Moles and Gophers. He had no interest in moles or gophers, but liked interviewing people, compiling information and solving problems. He interviewed people he saw out watering their lawns, got their tips and put the best 100 in a book. Scanner genius!

In all seriousness, this IS possibly the most reassuring life advice I’ve been given. Do you relate? You a scanner… and do you need to be reassured that it’s OK to flit and not choose and to do it all…? Or do you do it already? (Bloody insightful of you if you do!!)

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  • Ann

    I totally relate to this. For all of my growing up years I forced myself to finish everything I started. I was 33 years old before I stopped something before reaching my goal (stopped yoga teacher training 150 hours into a 200 hour program b/c I realized I didn’t want to complete the student teaching part b/c I had learned what I set out to learn and didn’t want to teach group classes). Oh, how I struggled with that decision. Then, two years after that, I ended my 13 year marriage which was killing my soul. Now, 6 years later, I am happily married and happy in my work, and I allow myself to walk away from things that are no longer serving me, or potentially harming to me. It’s the only sane way to live!

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  • Emma

    Sarah I love reading your column every week. I love the concept. Every article is so well written and so insightful; there is so much I can relate to! But this week has been the most self-affirming for me by far. I am a scanner!! I’ve always known it but I just never knew there was a term for it, or that it is something that occurs in other people too! I have so many interests and hobbies it is ridiculous. There are soooo many things that I want to learn but am incredibly frustrated because I don’t have time to pursue all of them – it worries and upsets me! And yet with some things, once I get involved with them I realise my interest was only very superficial and I want to move on now. On to the next thing! There is not enough time to dwell on something that is not giving me utmost enjoyment. I hate quitting things or leaving things unfinished, but often I do not have a choice – I overburden myself so much with multitasking there are simply not enough hours in the day to continue with everything I have started. I have so many crazy ideas swirling around in my head that it overwhelms and exhausts me.
    …Now that I’ve got all that out, I want to thank you – thank you whole heartedly – for drawing public attention to the plight of the scanner! I thoroughly enjoyed this article and look forward to reading many more in your lovely column.
    Best wishes,
    Emma

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  • Mia

    I most relate to the part that says… “Scanners are often very frustrated folk – they feel they’ll never get to all their ideas in one lifetime, which stops them from starting any, which in turn leaves them feeling resentful about the endless stream of exciting ideas that bubble in their brains.”

    I have always got in trouble in my life for being flighty and full of ideas, and having too many to ever start. I am qualified in a wide range of things including accounts, make-up artistry, beautician, retail management, candy making and bar tending (with or without tops.) Also changing jobs every 2 years when something new and exciting piques my interest. It never occurred to me, not once, that this might actually be a positive thing!

    Thanks Sarah, that IS amazingly reassuring advice, and a wonderfully written article.

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  • http://lifebeautylaughter.blogspot.com Laura

    Yay!!… is all I have to say : )

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  • Paul

    Great article Sarah, you definitely are a scanner and should not change a thing!

    I’m a scanner myself and like others took years to come to terms with it, accept it and consider it a strength not a flaw. I think scanners are the glue or fluid that flows between all the experts and single-task types. Like a people bridge.

    By scanning we are essentially cross-pollinating the topics, subjects and ideas that are visited by this human bee, which is evolutionary theory at it’s best. In fact, the role is vital.

    Viva La Scanners!

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Is it that obvious that I’m a scanner?! Like the evolutionary theory angle…

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    Paul Reply:

    Yep.

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  • http://tangerinemeg.com Tangerine Meg

    I heart Barbara Sher! Being introduced to the concept of being a scanner was both a relief and also heartening for me too.
    Perhaps your scanner tendencies are what contribute to making your blog so wide ranging and interesting.
    How did you come across Barbara? It sounds like you spoke to her.

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Yep we chatted on skype – she was in Paris.

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  • http://hollyjcurtis.wordpress.com Holly Curtis

    Yes, yes and yes! Too many lives for a lifetime, I call it!

    I often wonder, I’m so stretched and busy already, how on earth could I find the time to do all of my wishy-washy ideas!

    Fantastic article Sarah!

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  • http://angieathome.blogspot.com/ Angela

    I’m so glad to read this. Not because I am a scanner, but because I love one very much (my eldest son) and have always looked at his way of life as being flighty, unfocused, irresponsible. I am the opposite I think – I decide what it is I want to do and I just don’t stop until it is done. In fact I have trouble relaxing until it is done.

    My grown up boy, on the other hand has already worked in 4 or 5 jobs at the age of 19. He starts out full of excitement, but before too long he’s learnt it and feels ready to move on. As a child he had hobbies that he seemed gripped by, but then, after a while, he was ready for something else. When he was interested in something his attention was focused however we sometimes worried he had ADD. I don’t think he has – I think he genuinely gets bored and wants to try something else.

    He is creative and talented – I think that may be a common trait amongst scanners.

    Love your blog Sarah.

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    He’s lucky to have such an open-minded mum…

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  • Sarah

    Do the enneagram, you are a 7 :)

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    Bee85 Reply:

    I’m a big believer in the enneagram but I don’t know if the two necessarily correlate. Definitely think I’m a scanner – 25 yrs never been in the same job for more than 2 years, did literally 15+ extracurricular activities at school – but also an enneagram 3.

    Thanks for the post Sarah! I’ve not heard of this before but instantly experienced a lightbulb moment.

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    BridgetJane Reply:

    Im a 3 too- with a 2 wing! ;p x

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  • Amy

    Thanks for this post, Sarah, it’s wonderful! I’m totally a scanner! I have been thinking about starting a blog but just don’t know which of my varied hobbies/passions I want to focus on. Most of my passions are interrelated – design, art, writing, photography, dancing, music, craft, travel, cultures etc… but I also sometimes get a random interest in something and don’t even know where it’s come from. For example, a few weeks ago I just decided that I HAD to learn how to surf! So I booked into a surfing lesson at Bondi at 8am on a cold and rainy Sunday morning (and I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination!) I was actually wondering if I’d gone a bit mad, seeing as I’m not really a water person either, but my drive to do this was so strong, I thought “well I can just go once and see if I like it!” Turns out I loved it, and it’s one of my new passions.

    When I told my brother I’d started surfing, his response was “yeah that doesn’t surprise me, you’re always doing some weird, random shit!”

    I was actually wondering whether, for people like me, or “scanners”, it’s much to do with the actual learning process. I LOVE learning. I loved learning at school, at uni, I love doing courses, and I get bored easily. If I’m in a job where I’m not learning anything new, I usually quit the job! When I apply for new jobs, people look at my CV with amazement and some sense of confusion. People don’t quite know how to pigeon-hole me. Which I think is great actually, although sometimes I’ve feared that I’ll be a jack of all trades, and a master of none. But this post has reassured me that it’s ok! And although I get bored doing the same things too often, I do find that I will come back to a certain 2 or 3 of my most beloved passions, and my skills in these areas do develop over time, just at my own pace!

    :)

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    It’s totally about the learning. Soon as you’ve learned what you need…scanners move on. You should blog about all your interests…a blog about how to learn new hobbies…?

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    Amy Reply:

    Yes, great idea, Sarah! Actually, I was thinking about how I can often feel quite selfish, gathering and consuming all this information, and then moving on… almost like I’m taking but not giving anything in return. I think writing a blog would be a way of giving back, sharing my experiences and creating a space for people to discuss ideas. That’s why I find your blog so wonderful – the fact that it is a very giving thing. I read many blogs but yours is the only one I read without fail every day. It probably also has a lot to do with the fact I am a scanner too, and when I visit your blog I never know what topic you’ll be writing about, or what little chunk of wisdom I will be able to take away with me. Thank you!

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    Mychal Reply:

    This entire concept is tremendously eye opening. Like seriously. Doing a random google search at my job: Multi talented + lost — I stumbled into . . . I don’t know . . . a world of people that understand me, I guess you could say. I’ve been battling with this issue since my freshman year of college. In high school i was allowed to dabble in everything — music, dance, basketball, theatre, poetry, school itself — but once I got to college I felt constricted. lost . . . like I had to choose ONE thing and do it for the rest of my life because that’s just what people do.

    Now at 24 . . . nothing’s changed. Still lost. Still plagued by this insatiable need to do everything under the sun. Like, SURF, for instance. Much like you, Amy, I’m really not that big a fan of water, nor the sharks in them, but something in me just wants to surf . . . Random ideas/ urges like this pop up all the time.

    I’m glad I understand why.

    Eye opening.

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  • http://christopher-h.tumblr.com/ Chris

    Is ‘scanner’ the modern age, politically correct, all sex-encompassing adjective replacing the fabled ‘Renaissance Man’? Either way, It’s nice to know I’m not the only one trying have the whole damn cake and candles, too.

    At 21, I’m completing a full-time combined laws/communication degree, work 4 jobs, play football (the beautiful game), and occasionally find time for a social life. I have no plans on what I want to ‘be’. There’s always chopping and changing, and I continually verge on the brink of burning out. And yet, I’d never change the way I do things. I don’t waste a minute and keep lists and lists of ideas about everything. Crazy ideas.

    It’d be interesting to see how we all fair with dating and relationships. Hugh Mackay *cough*…

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    Mia Reply:

    I’d love to know the dating and relationships info as well! Somehow, I think scanners come off as the Peter Pans of the dating world.

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Quite possibly… I personally stick with relationships a long time…when I found someone who can keep up!

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    Chris Reply:

    My point exactly. I find I’m either infatuated with someone or not interested in the slightest. Not many who can keep up.

    BridgetJane Reply:

    Im a long termer too & grateful ive found some1 who loves my craziness & can b my one solid rock :) x

    Mia Reply:

    How about that… Im a long-termer too… Ive had 2 boyfriends in my whole life. One for nearly 9 years and the other I now live with, its been nearly 2 years. I seem to be able to commit quite happily provided the man in question is a total manchild! I dread to think what would happen if my partner decides to grow up one day and expect me to settle down & be serious for once. For now he seems quite tolerant of my mania – racing off every weekend to scuba dive, or go to teaparties, or to the museum, or photographing tombstones, or whatever craze I am into this week. I hope I get to be Peter Pan forever and never grow up sometimes…

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  • Kate

    Awesome post Sarah!! AND all the comments that have followed! I love that we are all out there doing our numerous, spontaneous, sometimes short lived activities but at the end of it we are listening to our inner compass and we are not afraid to act upon our never ending urges/promptings to always learn and try something new….(just for the hell of it!!). KUDOS to all of the scanners out there.
    I think this sunday read could possible be the most reassuring life advice I have had for some time.
    To all the scanners out there….keep on keeping on
    xxkj

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I love your spirit Kate. Thank you x

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  • Samantha

    Thank you for this post Sarah! All this time I thought I was just a non-comittal ball of frenzied ideas and wants, but I’m just a scanner!

    I have dabbled in so many things – studying Nuclear Medicine at Uni, to postponing that and moving into an office job, which i enjoyed, but grew tired of, so I globetrotted, and eventually went back to study Chemical Engineering. After growing tired of that, I went back to my old office job in Market Research and was offered a promotion! I am now dreaming of studying Ancient History part-time and possible becoming a teacher! And…I am only 21.

    There are so many things I want to do, I feel I shouldn’t be tied down to any profession and wish to sample many! This post was extremely reassuring!

    Thank you :)

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  • Clair

    Sarah, you have written before about being in a gifted class at school, loving the logic of maths..so it is without a doubt that you are a highly intellegent individual, a master of the mind. Therefore, to have a career hosting a cooking show or reviewing a restaurant is hardly up there in terms of a mental challenge. I can totally understand why you have so many things on the go at once…your brain in looking for stimulation. Whilst you slow your body down with meditation and look after it with nutritional foods, what are you doing for your brain?

    One thing that has always stood out for me (not just with yourself) is that when people seem to be on a role, they bail. My husband, for example, was CEO of his company and just as profits were at an all time high, he left. Same with MasterChef and Cosmo. You were host of a #1 rating show and had the highest ratings for the mag under your leadership, and seem to have left both when they were both at their peak.

    Anyway, please don’t take this as critisism Sarah. I am fascinated in human behavior.

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Astute observations…I quit things once I can no longer contribute my true self. I’ve had to think about this a lot and I know that’s the truth. I get bored when I don’t contribute my true self, when I have to role play, or go through motions. It becomes unbearable and quitting is the only URGENT action.
    As to how I cope now? I have the perfect scanner job – I write about something different every week, or every day in the case of my blog. I study. And I have 5 different jobs. And I try new physical pursuits a lot…

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    Clair Reply:

    yes, but what about mental pursuits?

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    Amy Reply:

    Clair, are you suggesting that being a writer is not a mental pursuit? That observing, learning about, and writing about human behaviour, psychology, health, nutrition (and many other topics) is not intellectual enough? That being the host of a television show, where you are dealt with a number of different challenges, is not a mental pursuit? I think it’s a little bit condescending and narrow-minded to imply that the only aspects of Sarah’s life that have involved intellectual stimulation involve mathematics or other forms of academia.

  • http://tranquiltownhouse.blogspot.com Kerry

    I told friends this morning that I was going to spend Easter contemplating what I wanted to focus on because I’m up to my ears in so many things and interests and trying this and that! Guess I’ll be relaxing instead now :) Reassuring indeed.

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  • http://www.cassiedickinson.blogspot.com Cass

    Oh my gosh Sarah, this article really struck a chord with me. I felt so relieved as I read it, knowing I’m not this crazy, lazy person who flits from hobby to hobby, job to job as I desire.
    “Or stay in a job right until the moment we stop learning” this line jumped out at me as that’s exactly how I live my life. I’m 23 and have worked in 6 different jobs, mostly just working until I feel I know the job inside out and then jump to the next thing. I’m not overly concerned with this pattern, but I know it’s not for everyone. I love the challenge early on, but once it becomes mundane I’m outta there.
    Thanks for this post Sarah, I’m off to buy a few of Barbara’s books x

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  • http://sweeter-living.blogspot.com/ Kris

    This is so me!!! Thanks for such an awesome post Sarah!
    x

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  • Olivia

    Thanks Sarah – another wonderful post! This is me, I dropped out of a Bsc once I had completed 2 years and passed everything – as I realised I had to specialise in something…then I swapped to commerce and became and accountant because it was the only job that would allow me to work in almost any industry when I got bored with one – 11 years of working fulltime – I am bored, been bored for a while…hence 100 projects going at the same time, husband, child, learning how to ride a bike again (thanks to your inspiration)…and there is so much more I want to do, but now I don’t feel so bad about starting so many things ;-)

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  • Candice

    Yes, it’s me, I admit it – I’m a scanner! Only just realizing now I don’t need to force myself to do things I don’t find enjoyable just because they seem worthwhile…

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  • http://www.barry-rutherford.newsvine.com Barry Rutherford

    I am sure I am a scanner too although I have felt much worse about the label I think I and others have given me…

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  • http://www.janclifford.vemma.com Janet

    This really helps me to understand aspects of myself and others. I will look upon this sort of behaviour in a totally different light now. Thanks it’s a great post.

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  • http://kimonoreincarnate.blogspot.com Melanie

    I read her book a few years ago and it totally changed how I work and partly my view of where I fit in the world. I’m a scanner also. I keep, not so much a scanner day-book but more an occasional scanner journal. From memory (I haven’t read it for a while) she talks about the scanners workspace (for creatives) and I continue to work towards that ideal, an area for each project so that I can go back and forth as I’m inspired to do.

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  • Janet NZ

    OH.MY.GOD!
    I have just recognised my Dad, myself, my niece…
    I’m going to buy Barbara Sher’s book!
    You have just changed my life – thank you
    I LOVE your blog xxx

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  • http://maximumbrooks.com Christine

    Thank you Sarah! This has shone a light for me.

    I read your blog all the time but this is the first time I’ve been compelled to comment. This is 100% me. And it is so incredibly reassuring to give it a name! Scanner!

    I have a million ideas and it scares me that I dream something up, convinced that this is my one true thing to contribute to the world, that I can finally ‘focus’ on, and then the next week or even day be onto an entirely new frolic.

    I have taken to not sharing my ideas with people because I feel like such a flake when I don’t always follow through.

    The one thing that is a constant for me is my passion for creating improv theatre – the theatre form where every night is full of possibilities and different and you *know* you won’t get bored. Could there be an art form that is more suited to a scanner?!

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  • mon

    this is sooo me. I have learnt to identify with this theory over the last 18 months or so, and have embraced it whole heartedly. Being a scanner is so much a strength.
    it also frees you up from the tyrranny of high expectations if you had one-pointed attention on one project!
    … a multitude of ideas constantly swimming around sends creative ripples through every layer of your being.
    it’s all about living life large isn’t it?

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  • http://thechocolatefigsf.com Sarah

    this is ME to a TEE. such a good idea to write it all out… i often get super obsessed about a new idea in the moment, blabbing to anyone who will listen, researching endlessly, and then burning out a day or two later and filing the thoughts away for later use. i feel so much less guilty now… this is insanely good advice. great find :)

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  • http://innerjewelsoflove.wordpress.com/ LIZ

    Thanks Sarah, what an affirmation for me……I started a blog yesterday. I couldn’t choose one topic so I made it about everything I love : ART, FOOD and CONSCOIUS LIVING. I reckon I’m always doing one of those so will always have something to write about. Here’s to you and me moving beoynd the first post!
    The spirit of your writing inspires me, Bright Blessings :)

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  • http://www.solitaryphotographic.com Annabel

    Oh my gosh… Sarah, what a great post. This scanner thing is me totally. I have done so many things yet my academic family looks at me as being somehow a ‘flitter’ who can’t settle into a job. I’ve had jobs which I’ve outgrown and left always searching for the next thing that I am interested in.
    I have Hashimoto’s too and so have educated myself beyond my doctor’s knowledge so that she has labelled me an ‘expert patient’ and I run a thyroid thread on a message board trying to help other people who are suffering. Along with my hospitality qualifications, I’m now a photographer which is one thing I’ve stuck with because you can never stop learning and creating and this is why it’s held my attention so much.
    I’ve had another business idea and have been developing this and plan to go into production in a year after I’ve finished another project… A classic scanner I guess.
    I am going to get this book this morning.

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  • Ross

    Beaut post – I now realise that I too am a scanner. Although I very much doubt I would have ever been in demand at dinner parties (unless it was perhaps for my ability to light farts back when I was still drinking).

    Being a scanner can be a real problem too – something catches your attention, like a Bower Bird and shiny objects, so I just have to look into it. This is such a research killer when trying to research something quite specific. I have to keep telling myself ‘stop it! bad self!!’

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  • Kate!

    Thank you so much for this post! While I’ve mostly embraced my Scanner ways, I never knew what to call it or how to think about it- “reassuring” is the perfect word!

    By the way, Sarah, if you ever need help implementing your Peruvian ponchos for charity plan, I’m your girl! I finally figured out about 2 years ago that a career in ethical fashion unites my seemingly disparate scanner skills in sewing, design, travel, Spanish, small business and social justice with my degrees in international and community development…working on making a happy scanner life for myself.

    :)

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  • caito

    yes. this is me. i have a general CV that i slash and burn according the job i am going for, otherwise potential employers get suspicious that i am some sort of multi-dimensional time traveller.

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    Sarah Smith Reply:

    It delights me to know I’m not the only one with multiple versions of my resume depending on what ‘career track’ I’m fascinated in at the moment.

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  • http://twitter.com/jeffbollow Jeff

    Sarah, thank-you for posting this. I’ve been called a Renaissance man before, but I think I like the “scanner” moniker better, because the former implies some sort of mastery of those things. I master some, but I’m always scanning.

    I haven’t read Sher’s book (will do so pronto!), but I think scanning is actually profoundly important. All human progress comes by juxtaposing thoughts and ideas in new ways. People like this will always make dramatic and unexpected connections of insight and invention.

    That, in fact, is what Steve Jobs proves (the next story in your blog). We would never have breakthroughs if people didn’t scan.

    Scan on, everybody!

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  • http://www.theoneinpink.com Sarah Smith

    Ahh, this is SO comforting to hear – I am the epitome of a scanner, yet I’ve never known there was a term for it. Instead I’ve been beating myself up, thinking I’m too scatterbrained to ever really find success in one area because I am too quickly distracted by a new, more fascinating hobby or project.

    My Mom is also a total scanner, I guess that’s where I get it from. She’s had plans to publish books, launch a sponge company, a line of toys, greeting cards, published cookbooks, and started her own homemade soap company (that last one’s actually gotten off the ground and she’s thriving!) As for myself, I have had more jobs than I can count – freelance writer, copywriter, actress, model, medical assistant, kindergarten teacher, receptionist, IT support, property management, you naaame it. And that doesn’t even compare to the list of things I’ve wanted to go to school for/pursue – veterinary school, art school, nutrition, and so on. My latest craze is taking sewing and gardening classes.

    I’m going to have to read that book.

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    A sponge company!?

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    Sarah Smith Reply:

    Yes, sponges with colored patterns on one side. Someone else much richer had the idea before they ever got up and running, and now you see them everywhere!

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  • http://yourlifeyourway.net Tia Sparkles Singh

    Yep! I discovered I was a Scanner in May 2010. I have 3 of Barbara’s books but haven’t finished any of them. I’ve had more careers than many women have shoes and I’ve combined all my life experiences into my current career as a life coach for scannerpreneurs and have a few other projects up my sleeve. Cried when I read Refuse to Choose :) Love how so many people around me are waking up to their scannerism! Welcome to the club, added you to my scanner (I like to call them Sparklers) list on twitter too. Cheers! Tia aka @TiaSparkles

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    Nicky Reply:

    hahaha, I LOVE the “have 3 of Barbara’s books but haven’t finished any of them”
    great reply…

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    Tia Sparkles Singh Reply:

    I know, right!? But after I wrote a post about scanners a few months ago, I’m proud to state I finished those 3 – omg, such great insights in them!

    [Reply]

  • Brooke

    Hello, my name is Brooke, and I am a … scanner! I am so glad to finally have a name for my ‘condition’. I am even more glad to see on this blog that I am not the only one dealing with this affliction. Having been a gifted student, DUX of my school and a competent sportsperson, great things were expected of me by many people. I have always felt the pressure from my parents, teachers and peers to end up as ‘something great’, so I’d developed some extremely unrealistic expectations for my career (and life in general); setting myself up for feeling like a failure for many years. Over the last few years I’m happy to say that I’m starting to realise that happiness is far more important than what is deemed as ‘success’. If I am happy changing careers and dreams every couple of months, then that is better than being an unhappy and bored Supreme Court Judge!
    I still do get frustrated at myself for starting so many things that I will never finish, so your post has been very inspirational in encouraging me to embrace this as part of who I am and just go with it. On the plus side, we ‘scanners’ are very versatile people. :-)

    [Reply]

  • Julie

    Lovely and reassuring to hear this…I kinda knew it was okay to be this way, but sometimes the doubting and frustration starts…so that’s when something like this is nice to hear…

    The trick I find in combining all my interests…is well to combine them really, if I can do that they keep each other interesting…and something else that helps is to try to finish projects and ideas in the moment…

    …run with your ideas…and if you do give up on something, that’s because you’ve got all there was to learn or it needs space to breathe and it will be better when you get back to it…

    Love, Jules

    [Reply]

  • mandy

    Sarah,

    What a brilliant article. I too am a scanner, a quality that many find endering but also incredibly frustrating. At the moment I am completing my post grad in secondary education ( my background… corporate comms, event management, marketing management, tutoring at uni, dabbled in book writing the list goes on and on…) Interestingly like many I always end up right side up with my feet on the ground ( not always where I thought I would end up though ).. Will I teach forever….mmm probably not… I like the thought of being a principal…..or maybe someting else. At least life is never boring
    Thanks for a great article, I have placed it on my inspiration board!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.saskystewart.com/ Sasky

    Reading this post finally made me feel normal!

    I’m 21 and have just completed a law degree. I loved studying law but I don’t want to practice it. During study I jumped from different goal to different passion to different career path.

    I’ve been a published journo, helped run a national sporting league, sold art, blogged, done graphics for people, been a santa’s elf, planned businesses, worked in sports social media, coached ice hockey, created a clothing line and that’s the past 4 years.

    Throughout it all I’ve felt a lot like a failure even when I’ve experienced incredible success because I’ve never been able to focus myself, career or otherwise, on one thing. When you’re constantly told that to be the best at something you must put in this many hours (10,000 being the number often quoted) to jump from thing to thing makes you feel sub par.

    I’d always wondered if maybe I was a little ADD, or something was up with my inability to choose. Now, reading this, and realising hey of course I’m not the only one, I feel a little more at peace.

    So as my mother said when I sent her this article…

    “To my adorable scanner, Go fouth and scan I say. “

    [Reply]

    mandy Reply:

    your mums a wise woman!!!!!!
    Go forth with her blessing
    From another scanner

    [Reply]

  • http://www.tessaneedham.com Tessa

    I too discovered Sher’s book a few years ago, and it changed my life! It’s also a great book to pass onto friends who are scanners. Scanners seem to know many other scanners. Seems there are a lot of scanners who read your blog…

    My response to being a serial jack-of-all-trades was to start my own business freelancing and helping people where I can on various creative projects. I love it and am constantly learning – perfect for a scanner!

    Thanks for writing about this Sarah!

    [Reply]

  • Andi

    Hi!
    This is a great article. I’m a junior and I am so ADD when it comes to colleges and everything else. I go to a “private institute for academics.” Everyone in my school is off to Harvard and ready to be a lawyer, doctor, or business person. I on the other hand, crave adventure and flutter hopeless between top choice colleges. It’s nice to know that I’m not totally screwed (:
    thanks,
    andi <3

    [Reply]

  • picardie.girl

    Sarah, this is hugely enlightening – and, you’re right, reassuring. I love learning so much and have just realised that I am quite a scanner… like you, I always worried about being a jack of all trades and expert at none. I have so many hobbies and things I enjoy doing but then feel guilty if I give them up after not very long. You have given me confidence to just enjoy until I am bored and then move on without shame! I’m going to have to find Barbara Sher’s book. Thank you for always giving me something to think about and be inspired by. xx

    [Reply]

  • Glen

    Another great post, thank you Sarah.

    You’re helping my make sense of myself and that’s probably the greatest give I have received in this confusing world.

    I sent you an e-mail a while back, not expecting it would ever get read, but it was really for my benefit anyway. The answer that I could have hoped for is this blog post. It’s all up there. Your description of jumping all over the place career and interest wise is much clearer than whatever I tried to write in that e-mail though.

    I’ve always felt wrong for being what I can now call, a scanner. Like it’s frowned upon, looked down upon by my family and friends. It makes me feel comfortable, and happy that there are so many more people out there, and even those who are lucky enough to have found your blog, that feel the same as me.

    Glen

    [Reply]

  • http://the-dame.com The Dame

    I read one of her books while in Surfers Paradise on a working holiday visa and very confused with my life. Youre right, very reassuring for us scanners!

    [Reply]

  • JessieAnne

    Oh my god. I really needed this article. My lack of focus but general passion for many obscure things has been an item of contention between my Mother and I for a few years now. I never hold a ‘real’ job down for longer than a year because I find in so many of them that I just stop growing after a few months.
    I’ve just gone 24 and have spent time learning Reiki and Qigong, am a qualified Personal Trainer, spent 2 years as a volunteer mechanical engineer at sea, want to study TCM but am TERRIFIED of 5 years devoted to studying one thing, and feel like, as the article said, I don’t start anything because it’s too time consuming and I have sooo many things I want to do.
    Thank you!!!

    [Reply]

  • http://h2u6a2n6a4.blogspot.com/ Anke

    ..i never knew I was a scanner,too!!! Thank you for this great article and for opening my eyes to new possiblilities…;-))
    BTW: Love yout blog!!

    [Reply]

  • Sarina

    Dear Sarah,
    Your ‘scanner’ column has obviously struck a huge chord, giving a name to what others would see as flighty, flibbertigibbety, irrational and bewildering behaviour. THANKYOU!
    I adored school (the act of constant learning) as it seems many scanners did. Perhaps because it was legitimate structure of disparate topics? During my twenties I was on one long scanner’s journey- jobs included courier (awful), chemist’s assistant (even worse- the pharmacist had psoriasis), bra fitter (every man’s dream job), waitress, nanny, retail, and finally in book publishing. To the horror of friends and family I left this last month to pursue freelance writing and of course, writing ‘the novel’ which has never been written but hundreds of ideas. The one thing us scanners do better than anyone else is connect things/people/places and experiences together in a new way. It’s what makes us tick- that the world is full of adventure. I just hope to find a fellow scanner to share it all with!

    [Reply]

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  • http://www.accidentaldiscoveries.blogspot.com shaina

    i was completely moved and inspired by this concept. I wrote my own blog post about it and just wanted to share.

    http://accidentaldiscoveries.blogspot.com/2011/04/it-all-makes-sense-now.html

    thanks for your words and for being true to who you are. it was nice to find out im not alone.

    [Reply]

  • http://Www.newleafnutrition.com.au BridgetJane

    Sarah what can i say?!?!? THANKU!! i can stop beating up on myself now :) LOVE UR WORK!!! ps. HOW did u get into a DAILY writing habit…?? How do u fit it in?? Thanku!! Xx

    [Reply]

  • http://www.wardrobewonderland.com Lara McPherson

    I completely agree with almost every comment previously posted!

    I most certainly identify with being a scanner and I have long felt guilty about it. I think it possible to use this (being a scanner) as an excuse not to stick with things until they have completed their course and I’m sure many who are not of our way of thinking perceive this as truth. But if you step back and see what wide and varied stimuli we are exposed to on a daily basis is it any wonder people identify with this?

    My only worry is how to balance this – how to build up a body of work (if not working in the same job or on the same project for a considerable period) without losing focus.

    I often try to listen to what my energy is saying – are the things I’m working on worth pursuing or has my energy dipped after I have fleshed out the idea. Tapping into this is often a good indicator of whether the idea has “legs” or if it should be left in a safe place to be uncovered down the track.

    Keep up the good work Sarah. You seem to be figuring me out without me needing to do all the hard work!

    [Reply]

  • Cherie

    Oh. My. God.

    This is exactly what i have been wanting to hear!!! This is crazy-awesome concept that hits my problem on the nose! My parental expectations come from a different generation (or perhaps its still a current outlook) that everyone should settle for one, secure, long-term, PERMANENT SINGLE job. Build a career. Becoming a “specialist” — and have unbeatable, profitable skill in one set thing.
    But i’ve always fought that. Refused, even. And no matter how much I tried to conform to that — I just COULDN’T.

    And now I know!

    I am delighted to know that it is OK to live a life of a “scanner.” In fact, I love it. As university graduation draws near, I was panicing. Not because i didn’t know what I wanted to do, but because I couldn’t possible fathom choosing ONE and being happy with it. I feel so liberated right this moment!

    Thank you for this piece Sarah!

    C x x

    [Reply]

  • http://thefashionplanner.blogspot.com Midnight Cowgirl

    This is so me. Thanks for posting this!

    [Reply]

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  • http://hellooutlaw.blogspot.com/ wolfmotherfucker

    most comforting thing i’ve read in a long time.

    [Reply]

  • Alexandria

    Hello!

    Thank you so much for this article; I can really relate to it. I’d like a bit of advice on this subject. I’m currently a high school junior and have begun thinking about how to apply to college and trying to get into my favorite college. But, I’m afraid that as I look at what I’ve done so far, it looks so disorganized with no “theme” that most counselors say colleges love seeing; instead, I have short stints with seemingly random activities. Could you give me advice on how to help a “scanner” apply to undergraduate college? I don’t want this to turn into a disadvantage, when it isn’t really. But, doing things to fill in the gaps and create a theme is quite frustrating and confusing for me.

    Thanks in advance!

    [Reply]

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  • http://bluberrymint.blogspot.com blueberrymint

    thanks for once again, another insightful post. although a full time uni student, at times i feel frustrated about being unfocused on my studies because my mind is wandering off to some new idea and my growing collection of interests. this ‘scanner concept has turned my underlying frustration into fresh inspiration.

    thank you sarah, keep up your wonderful work!

    [Reply]

  • http://facebook.com/luda.green.tea greentea

    I came across this the other day and thought “scanner” :

    http://www.facebook.com/thecoolhunter#!/thecoolhunter

    [Reply]

  • Lauren

    This post made me feel so much better. I’ve always been kind of ashamed of my resistance to focus on one thing to be good at. I want to know EVERYTHING. There is so much to know. I am definitely going to be getting Barb’s book and the comments were all the more reassuring.

    [Reply]

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  • http://www.thefashionatetraveller.com Leanne

    Ohmigosh – CLICK!! Intense interest in new things, following up only to be distracted by a tangent, love of learning, unable to focus on just one thing for long…Ka-CHING! Woah, I really relate, and find the concept of the scanner daybook very exciting (altho I’ve already started a similar thing the other week..but got distracted, and didn’t follow up!) I’m certainly going to re-read this, and the books mentioned…and start jotting ideas when I can!

    [Reply]

  • Stacey

    WHAT??? there is a TERM for it?? And other people like me out there??
    I cannot believe how good it was to read this article and all these posts. Lets analyse my scanner traits…As a child my school reports always read something along the lines of “Stacey is a good student but often gets distracted” or “she needs to try to focus on the task at hand”. I find I am good at almost everything I set my hand to, particularly creative things, which has meant I have never been able to or wanted to choose something to focus on – sort of a fear of picking the wrong thing and being stuck in it and missing out on other things. I’ve spent most of my life worrying that I will never find a career and never really excel in any particular field. “Interested in everything and commited to nothing”. At uni I loved studying. I studied rather general topics – Geography and Environmental Studies. This suited me as I have always been fascinated with the world and our place in it and it allows jobs to be rather varied. I’ve always been very passionate and keen on travel and learning and trying to new things. I love languages, cooking, nutrition, photography, art, baking, reading, documentaries…anything that allows me to not get bored and explore and build on my skills. I keep an ideas journal and I often get ideas for projects out of nowhere while I am doing mundane things at my desk . I have a bad habit of buying books and not reading them or reading two books at once. My mind goes off on tangents all the time. I also have an ability to really enjoy the small things, not get caught up in details, see the big picture, and remain positive even when things go ‘wrong’. Sound like you too??

    I think in my entire life I have not read anything so reassuring or that strikes such a chord. Going to email this to my folks right now! Finally I can embrace my scannerdom!

    [Reply]

    Jessica Wagstrom Reply:

    This sounds like me, every single word. Except for the fact that after being in college for one and a half years and already switching majors, I decided to leave because it was extremely expensive and I didn’t think I should spend the money if I couldn’t even decide what I was there for.

    [Reply]

  • http://juliahirsch.wordpress.com Julia Hirsch

    Scanner’s unite! Yay, my flakiness if finally celebrated! Thanks so much for this blog. I’m a writer, which is a perfect fit for a scanner. I can take a subject and, for a short period, immerse myself in that time and culture. Writing is like my time travel machine. Strap me into Google and I’m gone.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.shashenjewels.com eilish bouchier

    I completely relate to this. On the upside I retain a child like enthusiasm for life and my new passion and on the downside there is always too much to do, learn and too many places I want to go to and people to meet and things I want to know.learn. In David Whyte’s (i think you’d love him if you don’t already know about him. He’s a poet/philosopher http://www.davidwhyte.com/) – Three Marriages, he talks about how all those disparate interests have prepared you for particular moments, opportunities and jobs. I like this idea. xeilish

    [Reply]

  • Caroline

    This explains a lot. Phew.

    [Reply]

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  • Nick of All Trades

    Look at all these happy folk celebrating their scanner-ness! I am 34 and only just come to terms with the fact that I am not going to finally settle on a career path and make some wonderful psychological breakthrough that will enable me to focus and settle down. Since ditching the idea that I need to find “my thing”, I have been much happier and more productive, but it’s hard to get others to understand. Each time I do something, even if it’s just for a week or two, everyone goes “Oh, so that’s what you’ll be doing with your life. At last!” And when I don’t keep doing it, they’ll go, “Oh you just walk away from stuff, you self-sabotage, you haven’t got it worked out.” Weird – why are people like that? Why do people want you to be boring?

    Anyway, your article really came at the right time for me, because I guess I needed some kind of affirmation. It really helps to have people talk about this without all the attached criticism. Thankyou, Sarah!

    [Reply]

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  • http://jessherself.wordpress.com Jessica Wagstrom

    Oh my god. I have felt like a flake ALL MY LIFE because of this. I think I’m going to have to get this book.

    [Reply]

  • Jem

    This is seriously one of the best articles I have ever read. Lately I had been panicking about why I can never finish anything, why I have a verity of interests, and why I always have a thousand ideas running through my head. So when I read this article I felt like I had an “ah-ha” moment. Everything just made sense. To be honest I actually got a bit teary eyed while I read it because I’ve never had such a realization from a piece of writing and the wisdom that came from it. This really made me feel SO much better about myself. I’m a scanner 100%.
    After having read this I’ve already queued up Refuse to Choose on my library reading list and I look forward to having many more realizations and “ah-ha” moments. Thank you so much for sharing this advice. Now I don’t feel so bad about the type of person I am and I don’t feel as if I have to conform to societies pressures of who we are suppose to be. I am going to stop being who I am and embrace the scanner in me! :)

    [Reply]

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  • http://cupofthea-dorotea.blogspot.com/ Teodora

    oooh wow! what a relief :) i am a super scanner!. i thought i had issues, but now i feel reassured and confident to engage in the things that interest me without doubting or judging myself.

    Thanks Sarah, and just to say, it is amazing what you do, ever inspiring and educational.

    [Reply]

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  • zefta

    i’m sorry but i don’t find this reassuring- at all. Accepting the fact that you’re NEVER going to put any of those amazing projects to use- not even one – because you’re a ‘scanner’ and can’t be damned is probably the most scary advice i’ve ever been given.
    You guys: If you’re all such scanners then you MUST have INCREDIBLE ideas that the world fucking NEEDS! The idea of wrapping myself in the ‘it’s okay, i’m a scanner doing my scanning’ bubble- the fact that someone’s making excuses for me to NOT do the things in my head is scary beyond belief.
    God gave us scanners, NOT so they can write all their ideas down and die as INNOVATIVE AS HELL but COMPLETELY IMPRACTICAL- we’re given a unique challenge- to fight our urges to do NOTHING and to actually try all of them. And then find the ones that last after the initial attraction. And then USING THEM. ACTUALLY using them!
    I wish I could be as agreeable as everyone else here but this thing has given me heart problems. I don’t think this is right at all. It’s really nice that there’s a movement of sorts for people like us but IF THE MOVEMENT IS GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION welll….
    imagine this: Da Vinci loved painting. He’d do all those sketches, confirmed that he has extreme talent, but got carried away with starting out OTHER things that he has extreme talent in too, one after the other.
    How does that story end? He dies, and there’s no Da Vinci to talk about because he failed to leave a legacy behind. He left starters, but starters don’t exactly get put in art museums, unless they’re being put next to the final piece!
    I’m really sorry. I can’t do this. I hope someone reads this rant and understands what I’m trying to say. I hope this actually helps someone out there. Don’t give yourself excuses to put those ideas away in a little notebook, don’t wait for the day to come when those dreams come back. Actually start them, please, for this screwed world we live in.

    [Reply]

    Bridget Reply:

    Zefta, minus the obscenities, I think you have a great point :) In fact it’s one I need to read!! Love the example about DaVinci…! Just think…!

    I think FEAR stops most of us from following one course until successful (FOCUS)….I know it does me…

    And yes if we want to leave a legacy we need to get real about our excuses, face our fears as grown ups and get on with what it is we are here to do….things always change….change is the only constant in life…

    So i guess we gotta go with where inspiration is taking us now and actually put our ideas out there…

    Thank you Zefta….I shall now make a START on something I have been THINKING about for too long :)
    x

    [Reply]

    Monkey Mia Reply:

    Hang on Zefta. Why should people make themselves miserable and do something they dont necessarily like and aren’t necessarily good at… just to make other people happy? That’s nuts.

    It’s not about sitting on your arse making excuses for yourself… its about doing what makes you happy. If you notice, Babara Sher follows several of her passions and advocates doing this. So what if she has a million other ideas she will never do? Sometimes its fun just to have ideas for the sake of them. I have millions. Be a scuba dive instructor, volunteer to help turtles in Malaysia, do an undergrad degree in science, live on a ski resort in Canada, be a world class escort like Belle DuJour and travel the world… as you may notice, these clash. You cant do everything, no matter how hard you try and no matter how many nervous breakdowns you give yourself. I dont really want to be an escort anyway, and if I did I would be terrible at it!

    The world isn’t screwed, its wonderful. And if you are giving yourself heart problems over what other people are doing with their lives, perhaps you should start being a little kinder to yourself? That doesnt sound fun, at all.

    Who are we to judge Da Vinci or anyone else? He did what he wanted/ needed to do here, learned what he needed to learn, and moved on. That’s what its all about. Who are we to say whether or not his life, or anyone else’s, is worthy or expect them to live up to our standards?

    [Reply]

    zefta Reply:

    :3 thank youu Bridget, and yeah, i was kinda IN the heat of the moment at the time, hence the sailor swears.

    And hey there Monkey Mia, i didn’t say anything about just finishing through a loveless job! My whole point is that it isn’t okay to have a loveless job but ALSO have 1578934759834 amazing job ideas that you totally can see happening, writing them all down in the little Scanner Book o’ Scans and then sighing to yourself and going back to the loveless job, just because you’re a scanner and won’t stick to the baby projects anyways. My whole point was that Ms Sher should’ve focused on ACTUALISING the things you dream to do, rather than simply accept that you’ve got a lot going on for yourself but that they’ll probably remain there in the book. And, call me a flaky flake, but if I sat around and wrote ALLLLLL the things I wanted to do, it would become more like a chore for me, and it would give me even MORE heart problems just thinking about the book that holds The Secret to Life that I’m too lazy to use. It’s great to list all the shit that goes on in your head, but there should be a focus of energy on the thing that sort of ‘sticks’ to your little scanning head, because surely after all the scanning you’ve gone through you can tell a good nut from a bad one, no?
    The world is pretty screwed if you read the news instead of lovely blogs like this one. My other point is that if you want to do something with ANYTHING, you have to face reality first. So yea, I think the world is screwed up and is only getting worse everyday, but the reason we were put here is to do something about it, and no, i’m not begging anyone to Go Green here. So like, find the problem then work out a solution…but you have to actually SEE the problem first. That’s why I found this post a little heart-burning, because it marred the distinction between what is good and what is bad here by telling us to ACCEPT the fact that we won’t actually get to utilize our minds. You can’t ‘fix’ the problem here because suddenly there’s NO problem. So yea. The problem is that you’re not living up to your own potentials, if you’re a simple scanner. And that’s why I say the world’s screwed, because if we all sit around and ONLY think positive, we’ll be blinded to the bad and then we’ll never be able to fix anything. Like what the Sufis beleive, human emotion is like a coin: One side happy, one side sad. The only way to feel one of the sides deeply is to feel the other side deeper too, instead of covering it up out of fear (like what Bridget said up there!) So like, if you want to truly be able to see the good in the world, you have to see the TERRIBLE in the world too, or else you’ll be blind to both in the end. LOLZ at the escort thing though, but it would be a lot of fun trying right? riiiiiiiiight? ;D
    Like what Stacey said down there, Da Vinci wasn’t exactly THE BEST example I could’ve chosen ever, but when they say Renaissance man it sort of ALWAYS brings him to mind. I think it’s fascinating how he was just a mere mortal like us, never finishing projects….he sounds a bit like me actually, getting really famous and getting HUGE commissions then totally blowing everything off. BUT my point was that if he stuck around as some ‘stable’ job that took up all his energy but gave him no time for his passions, other than a bit of free time to ‘doodle’ as a ‘hobby’ because he’s a bit talented but it’s just one of the billions of things he could do, then where would HE be now? Totally forgotten. Wasn’t that the biggest curse for the Early Greeks? Reading The Odyssey this year and now I can relate everything to it :P
    Thank you everyone for the replies, especially (NAY SAYER) monkey mia, without you I wouldn’t be able to clear out my point. Hooray to 1 a.m serious conversations?

    [Reply]

  • stacey

    Zefra, I’m glad you made those comments. This original post on scanners reassured me as it gave me confirmation that having lots of random ideas and sponteneous bursts of enthusiasm for projects, but I was left feeling a little uneasy about never seeing things through. Thats the exact quality that leaves scanners seen as flaky and drifty. Much better to do something with the projects.

    Although, on a side note, I have been reading a biography on the great Da Vinci and in fact few people know that he was actually notorious for not finishing projects. He was poor most of his life because he would get comissions for projects and just not complete them. Yes he was a fantastic painter, but that was just one of his interests. He was also passionate about science and the natural world, architecture, engineering, mathmatics, anatomy…to name a few. He was tormented by his conflicting interests – if he spent too long painting he yearned to focus on something else!

    [Reply]

  • zefta

    OH and another thing, apparently i’ma backed up by super-cool Abraham Maslow, Aries psychologist:
    “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization … referring to a person’s desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency to become actually what we are potentially …”

    [Reply]

  • http://steepincline.wordpress.com/ Cheryl

    I came across the term “Scanner” at the end of 2010. I was running out of steam in the second business I’d set up and worried that I’d never be able to stick with anything. I read a definition of “Scanner” and I felt a profound recognition of who and how I am. I was so relievedthat I sat down and cried. For years, I’d believed that there was something wrong with me, been criticised at work, felt frustrated and stuck so often in various jobs…

    I couldn’t get hold of Barbara’s book which seems to be out of print in Europe. Amazingly I discovered that she was running a workshop in France (very close to my home) the following week. I sent her an email and to my surprise she responded, PERSONALLY, within 10 minutes, with some very kind advice. I was very touched.

    I didn’t make it to her workshop or get a copy of the book yet. But I’ve settled into a whole different perspective on myself. I’ve let go of the guilt.

    There’s a regular Scanner’s Night meet-up in London (England) hosted by John Williams (who recognised himself as a Scanner at one of Barbara’s workshops). If you are near London, go meet up with your kindred spiritis : http://www.scannercentral.co.uk/

    [Reply]

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  • peter

    i think seekers might be a more appropriate name

    [Reply]

  • http://www.blessedhealth.com.au narelle

    Holy Cow – there is a name for it! Thank you for re-labelling me from something less politically correct, like retard, to scanner…that sounds much nicer!

    Funny thing – I brought Sher’s book on the weekend, not sure why but did, occasionally intuition speak and I listen well – and then this pops up on my computer. Definitively a sign that I should go and read it…now!

    Thanks for the article – as usual a great read :)

    [Reply]

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  • Zdenka

    Sarah, huge fan of your blog! I think this particular post about scanners is quite possibly the most comforting and encouraging thing I have read in a long long time! :-)

    I am TOTALLY a scanner! I love nothing more than reading, researching, learning new things and more reading (all non fiction of course… give me facts, facts, facts). My brain every waking hour feels like a time bomb – I am constantly thinking about a million things at once & sometimes I feel I must be mad or something because I am just unable to focus on only ONE thing at a time. Your post has encouraged me!

    Put another load of washing on (and make sure to put the machine on drip dry for that dress), remember to go to post office before it shuts, feed kids healthy lunch, phone naturopath & ask about XYZ, go to doctors appt, check email, take kids to swimming lessons, dust bookshelf, visit family, return _____ to shops for exchange, ask so & so about BBQ get together next week, finish writing shopping list, dye hair, finish sorting our kids clothes to get rid of, remember to sleep (sometime), go to gym, answer sms a million times a day, ask hubby to change lightbulb, take overdue library books back, put script in at chemist, clean grubby fingers off walls, spend time with hubby, get vacuum cleaner fixed, go shopping for so & so’s birthday present, clean bathroom mirror, wash car, phone Grandad, tidy up garage, return friend’s phone call……… :S

    I am now off to read more about Barbara Sher & her books!

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  • Susannah

    I suddenly feel like there’s hope for me and my crazy carousel-brain after all :’)

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