Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why did you just quit your job?

I always believe in playing it safe, using your job to support your exploration into something that suits you better. But I understand what makes a multi-talented person suddenly decide to walk away from what looks like a secure job.

Just got this letter today (my answer is below it):
Name: BB
State: oh
Permission: OK to publish
Date: 8/26/2009 10:25:58 AM

Question: Hello Barbara, Reading your third book [I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was] was extremely inspirational. The fact that I am not alone is inspiring in itself. However, I still do not have a clue where to begin. I couldn't even decide if I'm a scanner or a diver, let alone tackle my life. I am 44 years old just quit my teaching career simply because I was afraid to retire a teacher. I was afraid that I would get stuck and that when I woke up it would be too late. I was afraid to not give my self the opportunity to do what I really want to do, which I have yet to find out.

Yes, I know it was stupid to leave a job for nothing, but I was anxious! I refused to continue being a prisoner. I am 'Jack of all trades - master of none'! Please help! BB


You might want to head over to a podcast I did about Scanners at and listen to it. If you find that you're really a Scanner, you can talk to many of your fellow Scanners on two of my bulletin boards. [ and] Get back to me and I'll give you instructions.

After that, you should head to a bookstore and find my latest book. Refuse To Choose -- it's about nothing but Scanners and could show you a path to take that could turn out to be very satisfying. Sit down with a cup of coffee and read a bit of it before you buy it. You'll know if it's right for you.

Let me say, I understand your fears from your words here. Like so many people, especially Scanners, you sense a lot more inside of you than your job allows you to use. As the years pass, you start to feel smothered, like you're having what someone called 'a near-life experience.'

It's a funny way to say it, but the experience is not funny at all. Back when I had what I think is the same feeling, I did made some very impractical decisions, too. My life was difficult for some years because of that, but not nearly as difficult as it would have been had I stayed where I was. And it all turned out very well. I built a life that suited me. I've never regretted it for a moment.

So the first step is: find out if you're a Scanner on the podcast at (Calling yourself a Jack of All Trades is a pretty strong clue in that direction.) Once you know that, I've set up lots of opportunities to talk to your fellow Scanners and start to build a life that will suit you.

Good luck,

Barbara Sher

On Aug 26, 2009, at 10:25 AM, wrote:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Too many interests?

I just left a comment on Michael Kimsal's blog and tweeted a lot of people about it, only to find that the comment hadn't appeared yet. Don't know how long it will take, so I'll put it up here and tweet the people again.

Michael's post is about how people with too many aptitudes can't find solutions to their problems -- How to find a job that doesn't end up boring them to death, how to get out of entry-level positions because they change jobs so much, and most of all, how to manage all their interests, those wonderful fascinations that pull them in too many directions.

My book, Refuse to Choose, (in England, Australia etc. the title is 'What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything?') has what I think are a whole lot of pretty good solutions to those problems. The readers who write me (or who write reviews on mostly agree. But there are many books to read, so I wrote a kind of guide in the comment I left, and I copy it here. Hope it helps because Scanners/Multi-talented Eclectics/Serial Specialists and High Speed Indecisives are fascinating, good-hearted people, and while they need to avoid boredom more than they need to be successful, they would still enjoy a comfortable life. I love them. I run retreats for them and love those retreats. (

So here's that post:

Now I'll tweet it and send people to it...

I know you're reading my book, Refuse To Choose, on Kindle right now, and this was months ago, but let me say this anyway (for anyone else who reads it): The book is set up to give you solutions. I've found about 9 rough divisions/types of people w/ TMA (I call them Scanners). The types are roughly drawn, and I never met anyone who was only one type, but it's a start.

In each of those 9 chapters (That's Part II of the book) there are are variety of schedules that make it possible to do everything you want, and at the times you want to do them. (I think you've already gotten through the Panic chapter where I first introduce the concept of a 'calendar.' :-) A 6 year calendar, for instance, each year broken into 4 sections (1 for each season), will allow you to schedule many things you thought -- without thinking -- had to be done at once or not at all. It can change your viewpoint radically.

Scanners live in the present, the Now everyone is dying to live in. They're trapped in the present, actually, and have to remember that there will be time. The simple 6 year calendar wakes them from the dream. It's fun to watch when I do it in workshops. People almost shake their heads to clear the clouds inside and say, 'Oh, right!'

But there are other models for scheduling. I, who am a 'Sybil' -- meaning I have a large but limited number of interests/talents and though I may put them down in favor of something else, sooner or later I want to pick them up again. Often, within days. Without examination, it feels like I want to do them all at once -- but none of them forever.

I use the Schoolday model - changing subjects like we all did in high school and college: 9am: study the history of the Silk Road. 11am: Answer emails, do home business. 3pm: write new book. 7pm: photography or cartooning for my grandson or any interest that takes my fancy, after 8pm: Politics: Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert and Buzzflash.

But there are other models, for people who only want to do things once: I describe a woman in Refuse to Choose, who was a programmer by day, but gave herself a 'quarterly creative project' in her evenings and weekends. She wrote, illustrated and self-published a children's book - once. Never wanted to do it again. Moved to African dance, etc. In 4 years she gave her full attention to 12 different interests (aka talents).

When it comes to careers, each of the 'Types' chapters suggests a number of careers that are good for that kind of Scanner. But I also advise that everyone, Scanner or not, gets a Good Enough Job to pay their bills and leaves their talents and the things they love doing most, for their own time (a la the calendars and schedules above)

I won't describe a Good Enough Job here - this comment is long enough -- but if you get one: a tolerable job, but one that uses some of your skills (like organizing or communicating, or problem solving), you will do well, and probably get rewarded for your good work. You'll enjoy it too, enough to keep you from being miserable. But not enough to work at it more than 40 hours a week -- preferably less.

Okay, I shouldn't rewrite the whole book here, but have hope. Refuse to Choose might have the solutions you're looking for.