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: