Do you appear to be unfocused?
Do you start projects and not finish them?
Do you have many varied interests?
Are you easily bored?
Do you have a hard time settling on one focus for your energies?
Do you freeze when given a choice of many options?
If you answered “yes” to several of the questions above, chances are, you’re a “scanner.” The term was coined by Barbara Sher, author of I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was…
Scanners are, by nature, wired differently than the rest of the world. We are a collection of bright, talented people who happen to be quick learners, who prefer the challenge of learning a new skill to staying in the same boring job and who have many interests.
We are interested in everything – or at least it seems that way. We have many projects going at the same time. We can’t seem to find one career that is satisfying. We lose interest quickly and are easily bored. We are jack of all trades, master of none.
My daughter calls me a Renaissance Woman. In the past, I would have been considered well-rounded, a good catch, successful because of my many talents. Not so by today’s standards. Society scoffs at scanners because we seem so unfocused, so flighty.
Society tells us to choose a path. Become an expert at it. Choose a specialty. But scanners cannot, by nature, do that and remain happy and healthy. This behavior is not to be confused with ADD. That’s a different bear altogether!
So how do I deal with being a scanner?
- I move from activity to activity as the need arises.
- I don’t force myself to stay tied down, but leave my projects handy and spend 10 minutes here, an hour there.
- I find a new career every 5 years or so. And recognize that I will not climb the corporate ladder because I’m usually starting on the bottom rung.
- I continue to learn. I love knowledge and the challenge of learning a new skill.
- I surround myself with people who love me and accept me the way I am without judging.
- I accept myself. I’m different. I can’t compare myself to others and expect to feel good about me.
Another of Sher’s books, Refuse to Choose! gives us a wealth of ideas to satisfy even the staunchest scanner. She also suggests several career choices that a scanner might be satisfied with such as nursing. Mostly, though, Sher gives scanners respect. We’re not flighty, lazy or unfocused. We just love life!