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Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams
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Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,260 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Don't know what to do with your life? Drawn to so many things that you can't choose just one? New York Times best-selling author Barbara Sher has the answer--do EVERYTHING!

With her popular career counseling sessions, motivational speeches, workshops, and television specials, Barbara Sher has become famous for her extraordinary ability to help people define and achieve thei
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Rodale Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Do the Work by Steven PressfieldThe War of Art by Steven PressfieldMade to Stick by Chip HeathRefuse to Choose! by Barbara SherSituations Matter by Sam Sommers
Puttytribe Recommended Business Books
4th out of 34 books — 11 voters
Tribes by Seth GodinRefuse to Choose! by Barbara SherUncertainty by Jonathan FieldsMade to Stick by Chip HeathSwitch by Chip Heath
Legendary Books
2nd out of 10 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

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Not surprisingly, I "scanned" this book in one day... because I also wanted to make some bread, do some research on World War I, work on my quilt, and do some sewing modifications to a pair of tattered jeans that I should probably throw away, but I know I can do something REALLY COOL with them!

This book was suggested to me when I mentioned that I needed to "get serious" and find a "real job" but didn't know what I wanted to focus on because I'm interested in so many things. A few of those requir
Jamie Belanger
Nov 23, 2011 Jamie Belanger rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who feels they have too many interests
Recommended to Jamie by: Paul Belanger
I think it will be difficult to write a review of this book without exceeding the 20,000 character limit. But I'll try.

Refuse To Choose! is about Scanners - people who simply cannot immerse themselves in just one career for their whole lives. Scanners have so many interests (and find new ones just about every day) that they often have trouble focusing on any one interest for an extended period of time. I know I fit in with this group, because in the process of composing this review, I alt-tabbed
If you are the type of person that jumps from interest to interest and you either have judgments around that, want to find a job suited to you, or just want to know it's okay to do that, this book rocks.

I don't have ADD, but I feel like I do because I just LOVE learning. But I've been trying to stop jumping from thing to thing because it's culturally alienating. Well now I feel proud of my insatiable appetite for learning, I feel more confident looking for jobs and less pressured into finding m
The initial "You're a Scanner! It's okay! You're SPECIAL!!" intro got a bit tedious. I think that’s because the author self-identifies as one and is giddy with the thought that “it’s not wrong to be this way!” Like other readers, I think some people would grab onto these ideas as excuses. But some people will grab on to anything they can distort or interpret in extreme ways, so I don’t think that fact invalidates the general idea. (I would call that a “slippery slope” argument, btw.)

The early ch
I read this more for affirmation than for practical advice. I don't know if I'll use all the techniques Barbara Sher recommends for pursuing lots of interests at once (though I do like the sound of having several "avocation stations" -- little wheeled file carts with work surfaces on top so you can have multiple projects ready to go for whenever the whim strikes you). But what I really did like about this book was the permission it gives to go ahead and be interested in lots of stuff, to move fr ...more
E.K. Carmel
Do you have trouble sticking with anything or are interested in so many things you can't focus on just one? Do you get bored as soon as you learn how to do something? Are you unwilling to commit to a specific career path so work at low-paying jobs instead? Do you keep changing your mind about what you want to do and end up doing nothing? Do you quit because you think you'll miss out on something better?

If you said yes to any of these, chances are good that you're a Scanner. The term itself descr
Sheryl Tribble
I thought her suggestions of careers often unrealistic, I'll never use half her suggestions (some of which would just add to the clutter, IMHO), and she's a bit too much of a cheerleader for me, so why did I give the book five stars? Because I have read a ridiculous number of "figure out your career" kinda books, and she is a breath of fresh air. In my teen years, I loved the idea of marrying someone who, like me, wasn't interested in "a career," and then sending each other to school, repeatedly ...more
I just love Barbara Sher and wrote her and she actually replied and gave me advise.
Her books are about living your wishes and dreams. And it's good advise.
I'm reading all of her books and waiting for more.
And I'm reading them all a second time. Her advise is right up my alley. I love lists, being on task, charts, schedules and accomplishing things. She talks about childhood dreams and how they keep coming back and don't feel you can't accomplish anything. She tells us how and uses people she's
Where I got the book: my local library.

My name is Jane, and I . . . am a Scanner.

At last someone has put a name to what I tend to think of as my Low Boredom Threshold. My ability to get interested in a great many different things has resulted in a good many careers (some carried on simultaneously), far too many hours in higher ed. and a general feeling of frustration that I’ll never be able to get my life “together.” It wasn’t until I rather unexpectedly quit a job in 2009 (long story) and, inst
For you, if you feel a lifetime isn't nearly long enough to pursue all your interests and make use of all your abilities.

Barbara Sher addresses those of us with a multitude of interests and talents, the ones who swooned when they got a look at the course catalog in college, the ones who wanted to major in all of human knowledge. Not only does she describe us so accurately that I felt the book was about me personally, but every chapter had insights and techniques I could (and did) put to use imme
This book has real potential to change my life. Many self-help books are 'good' because of what psychologists call the Barnum Principle. That says that if you make things generic enough, what you say is bound to apply to just about anybody. However, this book is *not* like that. This book is specific enough that most people will find that it doesn't apply to them at all. But it definitely does apply to me. Barbara Sher defines several types of what she calls Scanners. There are Indecisives, Spec ...more
Mar 29, 2008 Teresa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has been charged as being a "jack of all trades"
Recommended to Teresa by: a trusted friend
This is a manual of sorts for people Barbara Sher refers to as Scanners.

Scanners are people who enjoy doing a lot of different things — with absolute passion! They are multi-skilled, well-read and interested in countless topics, professions and hobbies; they are challenged to choose between a "favorite" or "dream" job by traditional standards. And their days and homes are literally cluttered with a wide variety of clues with regard to this reality.

Scanners find it easy to start jobs, projects,
Julie M
FANTASTIC book if you, like me, have 100 ideas of brilliant project swirling around in your head at any given time, love to do EVERYTHING, are interested in all kinds of topics ranging from string theory to bel canto to interior design.... Barbara Sher gives clear, simple, practical advice and direction for all of us that can't choose one thing, one path, one career, one hobby, and that is: DON'T CHOOSE. Do it all. She gives very specific, but appropriately high-level big ideas about how to help ...more
Zhayra Palma
Like most people whom this book was written for... I didnt finish the whole thing. Or even read it in order. If you constantly feel like you have too many interests, cant ever decide what to do with time or life, if you've occasionally felt like someone who doesnt finish what you start, or if you feel as though this world is simply not set up for the way you function... read this book! Or read part of it and put it back on the shelf for months or years before you take it back down, only to read ...more
somewhat helpful, mostly comforting. worth reading if you are in a funk about not being able to do everything you love everyday.
Laura Talley
I tend to learn everything I can about a subject until I feel I understand it as thoroughly as I want (which is usually when information starts repeating itself and you have to dig through the repetition to find something small you don't know), then I hop to the next. I get bored very easily after that and for me, boredom is absolutely torture. I get stressed thinking about having nothing new to learn or think about or do. I made a list of subjects I would love to master and I would need 1000 li ...more
Rift Vegan
Very Much Enjoyed! Sher has an enthusiasm for life in all of it's diversities and it's great to realize "hey, I'm like that too!"

The Scanner Daybook is one of my favorite suggestions. It's basically an idea book. As an avid journaler, I've had idea books in the past and was glad for the reminder.

The second half of the book focuses on the careers that Scanners may be interested in. This was less useful to me, but there were still good tips interspersed to keep me reading.

Sher tells a great stor
Suzanne Frank
First of all, I love Barbara Sher. She has spoken to me from several of her books and I've incorporated her words and shared them, pretty much with everyone who will listen. This one is a refinement of an idea she expressed before and it's SUCH an explanation for everyone I know! She gives cogent explanations, simple direction, great stories and illuminates those who -- oftentimes -- society will accuse of being unable to "stick" with anything, or "too frivolous" to commit. It unveils those are ...more
Dogsmom Laura
Like many of the reviewers I am also a Scanner. I will also admit that I have been a fan of Barbara's since the late 70s. Her books have helped me in the past and this one was not a disappointment. Her description of Scanners was spot on. Her techniques and demonstrative stories were very helpful. I will be rereading this book and putting more of the practices into play.
I read a library copy of Refuse To Choose but will be looking to purchase a personal copy.
With her previous books I pick up ext
Overall, I find this book "good to think" - that is, it offers useful frames and insights for thinking about one's personality and needs, and some practical suggestions for getting the most out of one's personal potential.

Like most of these books, however, it falters a bit when it comes to the nitty-gritty of things like actually becoming employed; it's one thing to realize that you could be a writer, or a researcher, or a travel coordinator, or whatever, and another thing turning that realizati
Some great ideas for job ideas for just about anyone. The book tries to define people as scanners and then into specific types of scanners. By the end of the book the reader realizes that basically humans are scanners and anyone could fit one of the descriptions. There are some interesting ideas for how to try and hone in on those skills and make the most out of everything you do. By the end the book was a bit repetitive and I started to loose interest, although by definition a true scanner woul ...more
Finally! A book about people like me. I’ve spent my entire adult life thinking there was something wrong with me. If I could just find my main passion, the one thing I was going to be amazing at and be able to stick with, then I could be successful. Only it never happened. Occasionally I thought I found it, and my engagement would last a while - sometimes years - making me think this was it. But inevitably the excitement would fizzle, and I’d find myself completely engaged in something else. I’d ...more
2.5 stars, because there are a couple of things that Sher talks about that I might want to try. I read most of the book but skipped stuff that didn't really apply to me. It's written in a very motivational speaker sort of way that was kind of off-putting and a lot of the people mentioned in the book kind of came off as one of those people in infomercials who are all "WOW!!!!" when an ordinary truth is revealed to them lol.

I've come to grips that I'm a "scanner"--I've always thought the idea of b
This book is a life changer!
I'm still in a tizzy about this book! I can't say that everyone will love it, but all of the author's descriptions and suggestions fit me perfectly. I'm so excited to know there are other people like me out there, who like to try and do and experience many things, and don't feel the need to "finish" the project or master the subject. I got lots of great suggestions on managing my projects, and most of all, giving myself permission to be the curious learner that I am.
I appreciated aspects of this book, but mostly it was pretty silly.

I recognize that "hey, you display these behavioural traits, here are some ways to make them work for you" is not a good way to sell a book. No--you must be labeled as a unique category of being, and then be offered a "revolutionary program" that will change your entire relationship with yourself. There was a lot of emphasis on how people-who-like-to-do-lots-of-things are "just wired differently!" and have "unique" brains that "j
Luna Raven
I discovered this book via the magic of PBS. There was a special and listening to Babara Sher talk just blew my mind. I'm not a freak for having a lot of interests and settling on just one thing?! NOPE, the amazing Ms. Sher says I am a Renaissance Woman and there is no shame in loving many ideas and having multiple careers. This woman is an absolute angel!
This book was a revelation to me in that it firmly convinced me that my so-called "diletantism" is a stength, and a sign of a fast, active mind. It felt like finding my tribe, and Barbara Sher presents many concrete suggestions for making the most of this type of mental framework. My only disappointment is that (like a true Scanner) she seems to have run out of steam by the end of the book. She suggests that we must from time to time give a project our full attention and excellence and finish it ...more
Stumbling on to this book at the age of 44 leaves me with feelings of relief and despair. How did I not ever find this author before? But I'm glad I did. This book helped me see that I'm not flawed, I've been using the wrong tools to measure myself.
Catherine Gillespie
Barbara Sher’s book speaks to the idea of having multifaceted interests, but includes more diagnostics, practical exercises, and career suggestions than Margaret Lobenstine's similar book The Renaissance Soul. I did several of the exercises and found them quite helpful, and I also appreciated her articulation of a work approach I find ideal (Learn, Try, Teach, Leave) but had never put into words. If you are a person of multiple interests or focus areas, I’d highly recommend both books to you, bu ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Barbara Sher is a speaker, career/lifestyle coach, and best-selling author of seven books on goal achievement. Her books have sold millions of copies and been translated into many languages. She has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, CNN, and Good Morning America and her public television specials ai
More about Barbara Sher...
I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want Live the Life You Love: In Ten Easy Step-By Step Lessons It's Only Too Late If You Don't Start Now: How To Create Your Second Life At Any Age What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything?: A Revolutionary Programme For Doing Everything That You Love

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“Doing what you love isn't a priviledge; it's an obligation.” 35 likes
“You can wonder forever how many teeth a horse has - or you can find a horse, open its mouth, and count its teeth.” 3 likes
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