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    Book Review: Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher

    By Jodi Wiley

    If you've ever had trouble choosing between projects or find yourself coming up with more ideas than you can possibly see through, Refuse to Choose may come as a revelation to you. This book is for people who feel as though they have to choose just one interest to pursue and leave behind their dozens of other tantalising hobbies or business ideas.

    This book is touted as 'the revolutionary programme for doing all that you love,' and as someone who's always been interested in many different things I was intrigued by what it might have to say.

    The good news is Refuse to Choose makes you feel okay about your diverse and sometimes seemingly unrelated interests and wholeheartedly encourages you to pursue them. It also tells you how.

    Author, Barbara Sher, starts by defining the 'Scanner' personality type. 'Scanners love to read and write, to fix and invent things, to design projects and businesses, to cook and sing, and to create the perfect dinner party,' naming just a few of the interests that might be held by a single person. She goes on: 'To Scanners the world is like a big candy store full of fascinating opportunities, and all they want is to reach out and stuff their pockets…the problem is, Scanners are starving in the candy store'. Sher goes on to explain that Scanners often believe they must make a choice and can only pursue one path. As a result, many people don't choose anything at all and feel frustrated and unfulfilled.

    The great thing about this book is that it's practical and Sher offers many useful tools. She describes a 'Scanner's Daybook' in which you record your ideas, no matter how fanciful, and explore them to their limit in writing. A binder system, in which a folder is kept for each project, is suggested as a way to keep order and avoid losing great ideas or material.

    Sher outlines suitable careers for Scanners - too many to mention here - but she discusses in detail different ways to design your life by rethinking your 'career' path. Perhaps easily replaceable jobs suit your plans or highly paid-short term work which pays for long stretches of available time through the year would work for you.

    I was really excited reading this book and found myself implementing many of the ideas and re-thinking my own approach to how I use my time.

    Sher insists that it's okay to abandon projects half-finished and move on to the next exciting thing. That's just what Scanners do. But she does say that at some point, 'You need to throw yourself heart and soul into something you love and give it your very best effort. You need to push past your boredom barriers and take at least one of your passions to the absolute limit you're capable of…Hold nothing back'.

    An inspirational read for anyone trying to work out just how they're going to get to do everything they love.

    Refuse to Choose: What Do I Do When I Want to Do Everything? by Barbara Sher is published by Rodale Books. Unfortunately it appears to be out of print but you could track down a second-hand copy online or do what I did and borrow it from your lovely local library.

    Barbara Sher is also the author of many other titles on goal achievement. Visit her website for more information.

    Jodi Wiley is an artist, writer, teacher and blogger. She has written freelance articles and book reviews for magazines and newspapers, as well as education curriculum. She has won awards for her artwork and been a finalist for several art and illustration prizes. Visit Jodi's blog: artbywiley.com

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    Posted by: JODI WILEY
    Categories: Book Review, Regular Columns | 8 Comments

    8 Responses to Book Review: Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher

    1. suzi says:

      Excellent review Jodi, I am so glad my blog review inspired you to read it and you, like many others, have found it a very helpful book. I can’t stop recommending it!

    2. Amy Prior says:

      Sounds like something I need to read Thank you x I just bought a second hand copy and promise to read it first thing when it arrives and ignore the other 6 books I have open at the moment!

    3. Barbara Sher says:

      Thanks for this lovely review, Jodi. Getting the word out to all these multi-talented people is so important because, too often, they think there’s something wrong with them! In fact, they should be designated a national treasure as far as I’m concerned! :-)

      The book isn’t out of print anywhere but the UK and Australia, as far as I know. (The earlier title is now the subtitle: What do I do when I want to do everything? It’s doing very well everywhere else and you can find it on amazon.com (titled ‘Refuse to Choose’) any time.

      It’s handy to look at it there because they have so many reviews to let you know if this is really the book for you.

      Thanks again for making the book known to your people. Soon the knowledge will hit some kind of critical mass, and the world will stop looking at Scanners as flaky, lazy or indecisive, and understand that they’re bright, creative and resourceful. (Can’t stop standing on my soapbox :-) )

    4. Eileen Fay says:

      Hi, Jodi, The Creative Women’s Circle looks like a lovely place to be! I’m not sure if I am in a “creative industry,” but I do have 4 part-time jobs, 3 of which involve writing and editing. I was an elementary teacher for some years, previously.

      You seem to be a multi-faceted creative woman yourself. I am going to check out your artbywiley blog in a minute.

      I enjoyed your review of Refuse to Choose very much. It is one of my favorite books, and Barbara Sher is a favorite author. Another of her books, It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now basically saved my life from total dreariness!

      Such a pity Refuse is out of print in Australia, but I know it’s still on amazon.com.

      Oh, and by the by, if you enjoy Barbara, you might like to check out her latest venture, Barbara’s Club. It has members from several countries, and I have a great time Hanging Out, as she calls it, on (or should I say “in?”) Barbara’s Club. It’s at http://www.barbarasclub.com if you want to peek.

      Well, thank you for an interesting blog here. I’m off to see artbywiley now! :-)

      Eileen (Saugerties, New York)

    5. Jodi says:

      Thanks, Suzi. It’s a great book, isn’t it?

    6. Jodi says:

      Yep, ignore the 6 other books, definitely. You will get a lot out of this one.

    7. Jodi says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Barbara. I’m pleased you liked the review and in turn, thank you for writing such an inspirational book. I’m very happy to know that it’s still in print elsewhere and can be ordered online – thanks for passing on this info. I too hope the time comes soon when Scanners are seen for their true value.

    8. Jodi says:

      Thanks for your comment, Eileen. You sound like the classic ‘Scanner’ with your many jobs and interests! Thanks for passing on the additional information for Barbara’s Club. I’ll have to check it out!