The Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur: A Scanner’s Resume. And How to Tell if You’re One Too.

I first learned that I was a ‘Scanner’ in May 2010.

Ran my fingers right out to amazon and bought Refuse to Choose. Then cried as I read each chapter.

I was so excited. RELIEVED.

To have someone tell me I wasn’t lazy, scattered or irresponsible, all things I’d been taught to think because of my inability or lack of interest in ‘sticking to one thing’.

To be understood.

To understand.

To learn that I didn’t have commitment issues as reflected in my myriad career moves.

To realise that in fact, I was VERY, VERY committed – to experiencing, learning, growing and following as many of my passions as possible.

My commitment has been to following my heart.

Not to trodding the beaten path.

Reading Barbara Sher’s books made me realise that there were people like me out there, with a zillion interests and passions when it came to career and life choices, and that being unable to choose between them or make a lasting career out of one didn’t make us flighty or confused.

It merely meant that we’d been trying to be laser beams, when the form we take is more fireworks, less laser or rocket.

Scanners. Renaissance people. Artists. Sparklers. Polymaths. Multi-potentialites. Fireworks. Slashers.

We are different. We are alike.

While I prefer the term I created (Sparkler, of course!) over Scanner, here’s what a Scanner’s process looks like:

  • Discover new passion
  • Become obsessed and think about it day and night
  • Learn all you can about it, delve into information as though it’s Nutella
  • Give in to burning desire to tell the world what you’ve discovered, cos of COURSE this is the most amazing thing since fire was discovered
  • Started talking about _____ (in my case, scanners) to anyone who’ll listen
  • Start doing ___ (a weekly telecall series discussing Refuse to Choose a year ago)
  • In true scanner tradition, either lose interest / finish grudgingly / quit with the intention to complete later, ________ (we did about 6 calls and then dropped the ball)

BUT the idea was here to stay.

I spent a good few months in confusion as I rebranded and cocooned about how to bring together my passion for coaching, writing, spirituality, self actualisation, social media, branding, authenticity, inspiring people and having fun. And then, it happened.

This is how amazing it feels when a Scanner gets that they can do whatever they want to do, that they won’t run out of time and that picking one thing FOR NOW doesn’t mean 1) they’ll be stuck with it forever or 2) they’ll have to give up the other things they want to do!

There’s a way to have your cake AND eat it, that’s why we have so many passions. And cake.

I help multi-passionate people with shiny object syndrome get clear on what they want, turn their primary passions into a career / business they love and live a life that rocks.  I write about finding your purpose, being fulfilled, self actualisation, personal growth, courage, authenticity & living a life that matters, your way.

As I collate and create information, resources and strategies in a way that serves us all, I’m going to share my Scanner resume with you. If this resonates with you and you find yourself saying “whoaaa that’s so me!”, you might be a scanner too – rejoice! For you are not alone. You’re home.

In case you’re wondering, the opposites of scanners are divers (or my term -  lasers) ie, specialists completely absorbed by one field such as pilots, scientists, doctors, lawyers, athletes etc who may have other hobbies, but are consumed with passion for one major thing.

The Scanner’s Resume:

1996: Post Grad Business Management + random gigs in Delhi
1998: 1st job: Advertising Account Executive (9 months)
1999: 2nd job: Move to Calcutta + Financial Services Counsellor (9 months) + time off
2000: 3rd job: Back to Delhi + Educational Content Management for Dotcom (2 months) + time off
2001: 4th job: Unexpected crazy random move to USA + Technical Recruiting
2003: Travel across India, Thailand, decide to quit corporate, do Massage Therapy training
2004: Move to New Zealand as Marketing Manager for local firm. P/t Massage Therapist.
2005: Massage Therapist (10 months) + time off
2006: Massage Therapist (7-8 months) + time off
2007: Year off for injury + 2 months of retail sales + random gigs
2008: 5th job: Move to Canada + Career Counsellor (2 months) + loads of time off
2009: Coach training + Coaching (6 months) + 6 months off (new website)
2010: Coaching: Social Media + Career Coaching + Law of Attraction (incl rebrands + url change)
2011: Coaching, inspiration & resources for multi-passionate people = Mission! (3rd url change + finetuning of brand)

Other sexy stats:

Total time since post-graduation: 13 years
Total time spent in “jobs”: 3 years
Time spent as a contract therapist: 3 years
Time spent in Solopreneurship: 2 years
Time spent travelling / not working in jobs: 5 years (incl 1 year blocks: 2003 and 2007)
Longest time in a job: 9 months

Lasers have a career path. Sparklers have a PASSION path.

What does YOUR resume look like?

I’d love for you to raise your hand if you’re a slasher Scanner / Sparkler too. And if you’re a Diver / Laser (like my dad who’s been a pilot all his life, or my friend who’s worked in hotels for 12 years), please share that too! I know you’re one or the other, so speak and be heard, you!

I’m truly excited and curious to know who are and what you believe. How has being a Sparkler or Laser impacted your life and work? If you suspect someone you know is a Sparkler and could benefit from this post & resource site, please consider sharing it with them: ‘like’ it, tweet, email it. Thanks!


** Want MORE BLISS and less stress in your life? Inner Sparkle: The 21 Day eCourse is made for you. Click here to get inspired. Happy. Sparkly. **


Facebook comments:



  1. says

    Abby Kerr wrote a post about Scanners & Divers where I responded (to give you more insights):

    “Scanners like me find 1-3 things to be passionate about at the same time for a period of time and then move on to the next, OR, find one thing they’re always passionate about and a couple of minor ones.”

    “For example, when I become passionate about something I will go SO deep into the subject that I’ll end up knowing a ton. Some things I may skim, some I’ll dive into, some might move on, some will stay for life.”

    “Even with my myriad passions, my one big passion (really big and all consuming pretty much for the past 5-7 years) has been self actualisation. Not personal development, but going within and knowing myself, and being more me every day.”

    “Apart from that, I’ve gone from advertising to recruiting to massage therapy to career counselling to life coach to solopreneur (and I’ve left about 50 other job titles in between). In a 13 year “working” career I’ve done time in jobs for about 5 years and taken the rest of the time off to travel, do contract work and start my own gig. I changed countries and industries like people change undies.” oops that should be 3 years

    “Barbara’s not saying don’t choose anything – she’s showing a way to choose a few things at a time, get what one needs and move on. It’s about strategies to get (almost) everything you want, just not at the same time and not with the same intensity.”

  2. says

    I’m a scanner! I just discovered Barbara Sher’s book a few weeks ago and couldn’t put it down. It was like finally finding a home – acknowledging that is ok to do and be a multitude of things. Guess that is why my site is called amultitudeofthings!!

    • says

      I’ll have to add you to my sparklers list on twitter. Have you discovered what kind of scanner you are yet? And what’s your resume look like? Yay for another scannery Andrea (@Andrea_Owen is another) Thanks for piping in!

          • says

            Oh fun! Can’t wait to see what the other Andrea’s are doing…

            NOW: Career and life coach (moved to Olympia, WA)
            2009: HR Director for a public accounting firm
            2007: Recruiter
            2006: Office Manager
            2004: Trainer
            2002: Staff Manager
            2002: Author and public speaker
            2000: IT Help desk
            1999: Massage therapist
            1998: Doula
            1997: Customer account manager (moved to Seattle, WA)
            1994: Collections agent (moved to Dallas, TX)
            1991: Federal Reserve Bank (New Orleans)
            I may have forgotten a few things….

            • Carol says

              My name is Carol (middle name… Andrea) and I think I am a scanner. The Scanners process sounds a lot like me. I think I’m beginning to realize that my purpose in life is to experience things, collect data and pass it on to other people to help them reach their goals… maybe?
              Anyway, I will definitely have to order Barbara Sher’s book! I’m glad I found your site!

  3. says

    I am a total sparkler (love that term!) I have Barbara Sher’s book on order at my local library. It’s so nice to know how many of us there actually are in the world! Yay for you and your wonderful enthusiasm!

    • says

      Awesome, Barb! Would love to peek into your life n career resume :)

      Yes, that was truly the most gratifying thing to learn cos finally, I had permission to accept myself for who I am and stop trying to fit into boxes.

      Well .. I never did try to fit into boxes, in fact I jumped right out of them BUT at least now I could start being PROUD of my sparkliness instead of feeling guilty for having too much fun and not ‘being a grown up’ by picking one thing to do, settling down in one place and getting married and living in a house with a white picket fence.

      Although .. the white picket fence sounds kinda cute, ay!

      I love Barbara Sher and Martha Beck for unleashing the pure awesomeness in me and everyone they touch with their words. Thanks for jumping up to claim your place!

  4. says

    I’m going to have to do a drive through my bookstore on the way home – I MUST be a scanner. Sadly I always thought the fall in love with something, immerse myself into it, then later lose interest was just another sign of being mentally unstable.

    I have a myriad of interests that I have no idea how to incorporate with each other – right now they include tennis, ballroom dancing, blogging, social media, photography, infographics, hiking, puppies, etc. Probably explains why I buy so many domains, create like mad on them, then move on.

    I used to always feel like I needed to give up something in order to be able to handle them all, but now I just do things as I feel like and I find that somehow that disorganization leads me to having more energy and time to accomplish almost everything. Maybe not in the same day, but within a decent time frame. And I’m a lot happier knowing I don’t have to choose one thing or stick with it if I don’t want to.

    Thanks for sharing your scanner trait and this book – just made me feel sooooo much better!

    • says

      Omgosh Kristi, I SO know how you feel darling! I have a scanner daybook for all my ideas, a dozen domain names, I’ve rebranded heaps of times, changed website urls 4 times .. I’ll give you a quick insight into why you probably lose interest.

      Bees and flowers. No, really. Bees. Flowers. Bees go from flower to flower because their purpose is to spread pollen. No one ever accuses a bee of being mentally unstable or flighty because it didn’t get ALL its pollen from one flower – it simply can’t! It’s not made that way, a bee’s made to gander about and have a blast.

      The idea behind this is of rewards and paybacks. For scanners, the reward of an activity could range from merely satisfying curiosity about something to going all into an idea. The problem occurs when we assume that we HAVE to take each interest to the “logical” conclusion – ie, mastery, go big or go home.

      For example, when I got interested in social media, blogging, coaching I was ALL in and my reward was to learn as much as I could to actually make a living from it. Highest level.

      When I wanted to learn cranio sacral therapy, my reward was to learn the basics and then decide if I wanted to pursue it further and become a Cranio-sacral Therapist. Since I was a Massage Therapist at the time and was really fascinated by energy work, I had to know if this was an interest deep enough to pursue another qualification. Turns out, it wasn’t. Middle level.

      Till I read her books, I thought the same – that there was something wrong with me for not finishing things. But if you look at your life, you’ll find that you HAVE finished a lot of things, just not taking ALL of them them to the final conclusion as people would expect.

      And that’s OKAY! Because you are YOU and your reward is not in finishing EVERYTHING you start, but in sampling everything you want and picking the things you do want to finish. Imagine if you took every interest to the end, when would you eat, sleep, breathe ;)?

      So when it comes to your interests, you might learn ballroom dancing and do it for fun – or you might become a professional dancer. You might play tennis casually on the weekends, or on holidays, or at Christmas – or you might join a social league, or play professionally. There are all these choices, and how far you take each activity depends on which one’s calling you the most and HOW MUCH.

      My point is – you can do ALL that, you just don’t have to do it all this minute, AND, to the same degree. You’re going to love her book :) There’s another cool one called “I could do anything, if I only knew it was” get that as well.

      Btw, we’re in excellent company – Da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Nicola Tesla are examples of some legendary scanners.

      I’m SO glad you dropped by and shared how you were feeling, will start sharing more scannery stuffsies soon. Have an awesome day xoxo

      • says

        Kristi IMed me a link to this post. No one I know accomplishes as much as Kristi or is so widely admired in our blogging circles. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with any of us! We simply rejected the conditioning that tried to force us to do what someone else expects of us in favor of doing what we are called to do.

        Telling people who aren’t conforming that they are mentally unstable is simply one more strategy to get us to accept their limiting boxes. Those who do what they hate because they’re “supposed to” are the ones whose minds are not working clearly – not us.

        The reason we don’t “finish” things is because we have learned what we needed to know and have no need to “finish”. We ARE finished when we receive from that task or passion what we came for and can move on guilt-free.

        The reason we do things deeply is because we see the complexity in everything that so many black and white thinkers with very limited vision in both space and time – what I call “one-tree” people don’t see. We know that you can’t do two things for one month and be successful. There are 100s or even 1000s of variables and the more you learn to implement the more success you will have – but it won’t be in a month or two!

        This is one of the great joys of social media: finding out that there are MANY like you. Sadly, most think there is something wrong with them when what they need to realize is there is something VERY RIGHT with them!

        Even though I stayed at IBM in one career path for 23 years, I was continually retraining on different hardware and software and expanding into project management and Kaizen so it wasn’t like having the same thing to do every day. No two days were ever the same thanks to some people loving to do the same thing over and over (so we let them) so we didn’t have to do routine tasks!

        Your “sparklers” are called to accomplish major tasks. The sooner they realize they’re special and talented and find how their talents fit into the whole the sooner we can create a better world for all.

        • says

          LOL, oh my I am SO a scanner Tia!

          (Gail I think you know more more than I thought. ;-) Thanks for sending me the link to Tia’s post. ;-) )

          Crazy because for years I DID think something was wrong with me. I had myself convinced I must have Adult ADD because I had such a hard time completing things. But here’s the kicker when I did something I gave it 110%…always!

          I soon realized that like you I am a multi-passionate person and that I must embrace that. And you know what? Once I did, I was at peace with it and no longer had anxiety over it.

          I was very fortunate to find my true passion a year ago, but still from time to time wander off a bit… but I always come back home. ;-)

          Thanks for sharing this with us. Great to know that there are many more “scanners” out there just like me!

          • says

            Hey Michele, so good to hear from you. How did you come to figure out that you didn’t have ADD after all – or did you just say screw it, I’m going to do what I want?

            What would you say are the biggest challenges/issues you have to deal with as a sparkle/scanner/preneur + do you have any productivity tips to share here for other readers? You seem to have made it work pretty well for you. Thanks for sharing!

            • says

              Hi Tia,

              Realized just by process of elimination that although I lacked focus and the ability to complete, I didn’t have many of the other symptoms that came along with ADD. Ultimately finally after MANY years I finally found something I didn’t think I would ever find – something that I was truly passionate about.

              Although my days of MEGA procrastination are long gone I still have moments when I get distracted… it’s a work in progress. ;-)

              That being said, I do have some tricks up my sleeve. I’ve found that writing my action plan for the next day the night before helps a LOT. Keeps me focused on what I have to get done for the day and productive.

              So basically I have a wish list of sorts with all the projects/tasks I want to get done and every night I take 5 on average of them and add them to my action plan for the day.

              It’s not a perfect solution but it really has helped me quite a bit in dealing with my need for constant stimulation to prevent boredom and I can factor in all my priority tasks and my “I just want to do and explore” tasks.

              All the best! :-)

  5. says

    Hi Tia,

    Yes!!! I am definitely a fellow *sparkler*! I love that distinction – sparkler and laser. I’m always describing the difference between my husband’s work and hobbies and his “laser” focus, and my many passions and seeming lack of a continuous direction. It’s so encouraging to come across others who are the same way, but who are also carving a successful path for themselves. A PASSION PATH!

    I completely resonate with what you and Kristi were chatting about as well…the push and pull between “not finishing what you started.” There are so many things that I have come across that are so interesting at first, and I just dive right in to learn as much as I can. I spend lots of time doing that thing initially, and I always find myself thinking…”This is it! This could be MY thing. I could see myself getting really good as this and teaching this to others some day.” I’m not sure why, but whenever I really enjoy something, I always picture myself being really awesome at it and teaching it to others. But inevitably, my interest begins to taper and I never really get good enough at anything to really teach it.

    I’ve dabbled in plenty of things. Writing and drawing when I was younger. Karate. Piano. Kickboxing. Dancing. Aikido. Yoga. Backpacking. All things I really enjoy, but never really got great at. Also, I went and got a bachelor’s degree in Physics, but only used it for a year! Now, I’m 5 weeks away from my master’s in Psychology. ;) Still trying to decide where that will go. Next on the horizon? A 35-day backpacking course through the Himalayas!

    I’m really hoping that I will find a point where I can take my primary passions and turn them into an actual career path of sorts. Let’s see, something that involves facilitating groups, like teambuilding activities or personal development retreats, something outdoors, like hiking or backpacking, something that involves a healthy lifestyle, and of course, writing.

    I’m thinking I might really enjoy a some combination of group coaching, adventure-based teambuilding, and continuing to grow my blog. So I have the point A and point B, I’m just not sure of the means to get there quite yet. Sorry for rambling for so long, this is just such an exciting topic! (Much more exciting than the homework I’m supposed to be doign right now :P) I’ve definitely got to check out the book!

    • says

      Adrienne, maybe you could look at what about teaching excites you.

      Is it the act of transferring information? Is it about achievement? Is it about empowering people? Inspiring them? Something to do with your values? If you can get to the core of that, you may find that maybe it’s not about teaching but about imparting wisdom, leaving a legacy etc.

      THEN, you can find other ways to do that! Instead of mastering a subject so you can teach it, you could bring lasers together and create a resource for those you want to teach. Leverage other people’s expertise. Dyu get my point?

      Your idea of combining coaching and adventure and the outdoors rocks. I know of coaches who do that – some go on hikes with a small group and do coaching along the way or after it or something like that. What you do is only limited (and set free) by your imagination.

      As for getting to B, think baby steps. Get a giant piece of paper, A on the left, B on the right and start going backwards. As in, start from B. What would have happened just before B did? What about the step before that? Don’t worry about getting it right, just start making little notes. See where you get.

      Steve Pavlina, Mike Dooley and Martha Beck all talk about this as a way to start with the end in mind and allow the steps to unfold. Do you have a vision board? That works well too.

      Alternately, you could pick one tiny little thing that might get you closer – like sending a tweet asking if someone is doing what you’ve done. Or googling.

      And hey – rambles rock! I LOVE your passion and excitement, it got me all jazzed up and excited for you so come back and say as much as you want ANYTIME. Just so stoked for everyone who’s reading, commenting, sending me messages etc. Yay!

  6. says

    Hi Tia! :)

    Yep, this sounds like me! ;) I went online as soon as you mentioned the Refuse to Choose book and found it on my library’s website and put a hold on it. Gotta read that! :)

    I’ve forced myself to focus on just one thing – teaching entrepreneurs how to create an irresistible presence on Facebook – but I have so many other passions, things that I often think, “Hey, I could make a business around THIS!”. Things that I would LOVE to spend more time with, really be able to dive into and share them with EVERYONE. ;)

    Things like nutrition (especially vegan or raw), gardening, sex & relationships, all things homemade… And the list could go on. ;) I’ve started websites on different topics, then didn’t carry through with them because I got too scattered and couldn’t figure out how to make them all work. lol.

    So THANK YOU for talking about this. I’ve never heard of Scanners or Sparklers before I discovered your blog. I’m so glad I found you and can’t wait to read Refuse to Choose! :)

    • says

      Hey Jess, I reckon being able to focus on one main thing like you are doing, and have some side gigs or melding them in somehow with the main one is what keeps sparklers sane. Besides, you won’t be doing the facebook gig forever and you know it – as you become known for being the FB presence girl, you can add more things to your repertoire.

      Makes total sense to focus on one or two things max, create a name for yourself and then leverage that name and brand into whatever you want! THAT’s smart scanneriness vs trying to create 5 things at the same time.

      There’s a misconception that all passions must be addressed asap and to the same level. Nope, for us sparklers to focus and be successful, we’ve gotta do it the way you are (as you’ll find in the book). Rock it out sista!

      And I’m well stoked that I was able to shed some light on this for ya :) It’s great having your energy around the webosphere xo

  7. says

    Scannerpreneurs!! Sparklers!!

    You know what my favourite thing about multipotentialites is? It’s that we (very appropriately) cannot select one name for ourselves. :)

    Super great stuff Tia!

    • says

      Or that we love sparkly new things so much that we MUST create new ones to satisfy those creative urges! Ohhh I went and bought a couple of days ago the minute the name popped into my head – love it :D! Great to connect with you Miss Emilie, we should totally hop on skype and chat about sparklerism and chocolate x

  8. says

    What a great post for Scanners! I really remember the feelings I had when I read Refuse to Choose and it really resonates here. I’ve felt that my ‘scannerness’ manifests itself in different ways but I float along on a little cloud and then I want to change and want to recreate and renew and evolve. For example, I’m beginning to develop a little itch about my website, want to go for a different look with the same theme, and it’s only been in its present state about 2 months! And I want to try out so many different activities and be able to practice them all as well. I wish there were more hours in the day! But the book is great at helping to balance it all and create a life where it will be the most satisfying (I’ve read it about 4 times!)

    • says

      Haha et tu, Claire!

      My 1st website was such a big deal to me and within 2 months I had outgrown it! This current form has been alive for 6 months and for about 3 months already I’ve been pacing and wanting to jazz it up further.

      I want people to come to YLYW and have awesomeness explode in their heads! Can’t wait to see what the next version will look like :) You sound like you’re on the right track, kudos.

      Hey are you on twitter? I’d like to add you to my sparkler list. Great to connect, cheers!

    • says

      Yay a new person! Isn’t it so true though, Brian :)? Would love to hear more about you and your path, thanks for dropping by, looking forward to connecting.

  9. says

    LOVE the term scannerpreneur! Can’t wait to see what you do with that one ;) I think it would make a great community/forum place!

    So here’s my resume:

    2007: graduate high school (yes, I’m a young’un!), been working retail for a year and some, enroll in college for fashion design & merchandising
    early 2008: quit college after one semester, because the classes weren’t suited to what I wanted to do, enrolled in cosmetology school, because hey! I like dyeing my own hair!, working a different retail job
    October of 2008: quit cosmetology school after losing interest, start a personal style blog, start working customer service
    June 2009: starting to get bored of just writing about personal style, branching out, move to Austin TX & set up shop as freelance seamstress
    early 2010: stop seamstressing (hard to find clients!) & switch to freelance writing

    Still freelance writing (it’s good because you can write about aaaanything!), and in the process of finding my groove with my blog – almost there, I feel like! For me, I have several things that are main passions, plus three or four things that I cycle through, plus I tend to go on curiosity binges like you describe in your post.

    PS: I love your distinction between self actualization & personal development…not something I had heard other places and I like it :)

    • says

      Get out of my head girl ;) yes I have plans .. and have had them for a few months, now they’re finally getting going. A Scannerpreneur / Sparkler/ Sparklepreneur forum is a big part of it. You are the perfect example of a scanner who’s staying true to her path and loving it. That’s bloody awesome.

      Oh yes, that self actualisation vs personal development thing.. I always knew “personal development” felt a bit heavy but since I didn’t know any other term, I went with it.

      Then along came CTI coach training where I learned for the first time that every single human being is NCRW (naturally creative, resourceful and whole) and that we know everything we need to know at a much deeper level, we just need help accessing it sometimes. That’s what coaches do – not give advice or solutions, but ask questions to help you tap into your own resources. The latent power within is is HUGE and untapped.

      It feels better cos it assumes we already ARE who we are and are just discovering ourselves (fits with the theme of your life your way – find it, own it, live it) vs from the place of ‘something is broken and needs fixing’. Thanks for adding to the conversation and noticing that distinction!

      • says

        Ooh, I can’t wait! Yes, I’ve never really denied my Scannerdom, I just wasn’t able to figure it out and really work with it for a while. I think that for me in particular the key to working with it instead of against it is finding the common theme between my main passions (reading/learning, writing, creativity, aesthetics/design/style, business) and using that, and then not ignoring the cycling or random passions but not trying to do anything major with them, either (like starting a blog specifically around spirituality, for example). And definitely not focusing on just one thing, even if it’s a main passion, because I’ll get bored and burned out, just like I did when Wicked Whimsy was focused entirely on personal style.

        Really like the stuff on self-actualization vs. personal development, I like the “you aren’t broken” approach. Reminds me of that post that Danielle LaPorte wrote a month or two ago. :) (I think it was about reframing personal development as accessing your power instead of fixing yourself.)

        • says

          Ah yes, I remember that post. So, have you found the common theme? What is it? Also, was curious .. what are the biggest challenges you face as a scannerpreneur in terms of running your own gig? Thanks!

          • says

            I think I did find the common theme, actually! Which is pretty simple – once you have a finger on the pulse of your core, your essence, the crux of you, you tend to naturally express yourself in all of the ways I talked about – giving your creativity room to flourish (and structures if need be, I certainly get more done & have more time for creative work when I’m organized), expressing yourself in what you choose to wear and surround yourself with, etc. I’m working on a new site to fully express this idea now.

            I would say the biggest challenges I face as a scannerpreneur are:

            -shiny object syndrome – this isn’t near as much of a thing for me now, but I used to have a real problem with it
            -finding a cohesive thread between all of my interests/passions/writing topics & expressing that coherently
            -worrying a lot about everyone else thinking that I’m just sort of rambling around and that my multivaried interests don’t make sense

            I know I’m a bit late with my comment! Got behind on my email inbox. But I hope this helps some & I can’t wait to see your new forum.

  10. says

    Absolutely loved this post…and am going to get me that book! I linked to it on my own blog (hope you don’t mind!) to pass on the word.

    I love my photography…I love my coaching…I love my jewellery-making…and I always thought that I was wasting my time by not devoting myself to just one thing. Why should I? Spread that energy!!! ;)


    • says

      Links are always appreciated Sarb :) Thanks for sharing the post and your sparkliness with us here. Welcome to the Scanner Tribe!

  11. says

    Glad to find your blog via @growmap. I found out I was a scanner in November after visiting Emilie’s blog at Puttylike. I have not heard about Refuse to choose of Barbara sheer. I have been often labelled by my mum as a ‘Chicken’ – unstable. It made me feel bad many times, but I have never stopped venturing into new things.

    After meeting Emilie, I got a great spark. Now I know it is cool to be me.

    The challenge I am having now is Balancing my many interests and monetizing them. I am on my way of solving it, but it is challenging. I am glad, I can now be myself and have fun while at it, and not be bro

    • says

      Glad to have you here, Jesse. Listen, your mom is doing the best she can with her limited knowledge and ideas. It’s good that you don’t let her words stop you and I’d say go one step further – don’t take what she says personally. It’s not about you, it’s about her thoughts, beliefs and fears.

      Yes, it is cool to be YOU. It is AWESOME to be you. It is liberating, empowering, inspiring and a relief to be you. Hold onto that! What are your many interests and what are you currently monetising? Would love to hear more. Thanks for connecting!

    • says

      Scanner is kind of a label as well isn’t it .. an empowering one though :) How has this shown up in your life, Justin? Thanks for dropping by!

  12. says

    Love it! I’m a scanner as well, discovered that a couple years back, but loving Sparkler!
    It seems like a lot of us end up being coaches, too! Probably because we know so much about so much! :)

    • says

      Ha! You make a good point about why we become coaches :) What challenges do you find in running your own business as a scannerpreneur?

  13. Sophie says

    Hi Tia!

    I am definitely a scanner! Not sure if it has to do with my parents being scanners themselves but I have an inkling it does. lol. Since I immigrated to Canada my family has moved from city to city, province to province. So I changed schools a lot! Had I stayed in one city all this time I would’ve only went to 3 schools throughout all my schools yrs from elementary, middle, high school and college. I know my math looks off there but in Alberta they had Elementary and middle school combined. Suffice to say, I went to at least 15 different schools throughout my life time. Due to relocating and having many of my own interests and agenda, different schools offered different programs I was drawn to. I had only 2 jobs that was different, in my career/field I worked for 8 different companies. Sometimes a couple of companies at a time. Boyfriends was no different. I had a new boyfriend every yr. I was always the one that left the relationship and rebounding from one to the next.

    I thought I was pretty out there, that something must be seriously wrong with me because I couldn’t pick one of anything in my life. It has been quite the adventure I’ll tell you. But quite exhausting at times as well. I’m in the works of changing my career altogether hoping to find my calling?.. but still wanting to have variety and passion with the fields I want to get into.

    How’s that!? Would you not agree I fall into this category very nicely. lol.

    P.S I read your email on procratination. I got lots done in the last two days, thanks Tia for helping me get out of the slump I was in. Today, I’m taking a much needed break. Tomor. I will be back at my “to do” list again. There’s always something to do, just not enough juice to get me moving. lol. Inspiration definitely propels me to get more done. And you my lady have done just tht! =0)

    • says

      Glad it’s all clear to you now, Sophie! Nothing wrong with you at ALL. You’re just a sparkly scanner – have you read the book yet? Hope you found the coaching you were looking for. Keep in touch!

  14. sophie says

    Shoot! I should’ve looked it over b4 I clicked submit. I meant I read your e-book. But I’m sure you would’ve figured it out but for the other readers I wanted to clarify =0p.

  15. says

    Oh, Scanner/Sparkler, that’s me! I read the book a while back, and it felt so right to me, but some other shiny thing popped up and I moved on before actually using my new-found self-knowledge to make a difference in my life.

    There are days–most days–that it pains me that I can’t settle down on something, that I don’t have a particular passion. I’ll go on kicks where I say, “Yes! This is definitely it! This is what I want to do with my life! This is who I am!” and it seems that just as soon as I say that, my interest is drawn elsewhere (likely because some part of me is reluctant to be tied to one thing only).

    But I feel so stuck.

    I have all of these things like I enjoy, and none of them seem connected. Reading through the comments here, it occurs to me that perhaps I should look at what I’m getting out of all of these activities rather than at the activities themselves.

    It’s funny, because when I think about it from that perspective, what I’m passionate about seems to be empowering people to enjoy their lives and to do whatever it is that makes them happy, to have exactly what they want. That seems like a pretty damn good passion to me! So why am I so resistant to doing that, even for myself?

    • says

      Hey Elisha, yep, that’s a common scanner trait – feeling stuck cos of the constant moving. How ironic, huh. Someone once said to me “focus on the water first, the faucet second”.

      Water = you. Ie, that which gives you the most joy to share, create, be and do in the world. Faucet = the ways you express that in the world. So if the water is empowerment, the faucet could be coaching, writing, speaking, making videos, workshops, etc.

      What comes up for you when you ask yourself why you’re resistant? Is it fear? Not knowing how to start? Losing interest in a particular form? Have you signed up for the PRocrastination ebook yet (top right corner of this page)? In that I outline 10 reasons multi-passionate people procrastinate and what to do about it. You might be surprised at what shows up! Let me know what you discover :)

    • says

      YES!! That’s so awesome to hear! Welcome to Sparklerdom, Leili. So excited for you as you get to read that book :) What’s your scanner resume look like?

  16. says

    Oh Em Geeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am SO happy to read this post!! I have been a sparkly, scanning, multitudy, passion hopper for-EVER! Always thinking I had a problem with FOCUS and now I realize I have no problem at all… WHEW! What a freakin’ relief – I totally LOVE you for this…tons and tons of gratitude darling!

    • says

      LOL! Jozette, that was just the funnest comment to read :) Yay for sparklerdom! Stick around sweetness, more sparkly goodness to come! Out of curiosity, what does your scanner resume look like? Lovely to meet you!

  17. says

    Like most everyone else, reading this comes with a huge sense of relief. I read another story like this a few days ago. I am not going out looking for these things, the universe just keeps handing them to me, lol. I think the message I am getting is that I’m ok, every thing is fine and to just be me. :)
    Here’s a look at my “resume”

    Dropped out of high school and got my GED because High School was frustratingly tedious!

    Moved to Florida, worked in a doughnut shop for a few months.

    Went to college to get a degree in Early Childhood Education ~lasted one semester

    Went to work for a temp agency, which was awesome! I did everything from picking burnt potato chips off a conveyor belt to working for a financial planner. The financial planner loved me so much that he “bought” me from the temp agency. I lasted with him for a year before I caught on to some illegal stuff he was doing, (Is a magnified sense of right and wrong part of this???) and left.

    I’ve worked several seasonal jobs, Kmart for the Summer, Hallmark for the Winter, whatever sounded fun at the time.

    I went back to college to earn and associates in Travel and Tourism Management, left with 9 months to go.

    Moved to AZ for 6 weeks, again worked in a doughnut shop (lol)

    Went to work as a “bellman” loved that! Wasn’t long before I was managing 9 bellmen, switched over to reservations, wasn’t long before I was managing group reservations, went back and finished my degree in Travel and Tourism, was up for a promotion, it was given to a friend of the hiring manager, then I was asked to train her (to be my boss???) so I put in two weeks notice instead.

    Went to work as a lunchlady, took college classes on my own in nutrition

    left that to go to school to get certified as a Pharmacy Technician, worked at the Walmart Pharmacy, decided Western Medicine and the drug companies are full of crap, started self studying holistic medicine.

    Which led to studying religion, realized it was all a crock of crap too and started seriously studying Buddhism (which is where I am happily still at today).

    Went to school to become an esthetician because I loved the hands on healing that touch provides.

    Opened my own business, got pressured to run my business according to someone else’s standards (my well meaning but total A-hole brother) and closed less than 6 months and 10, 000.00 later!

    Started working from home for friends and family but could not bring myself to charge for my services. (Still struggling with this one)

    Started writing again after a late night encounter with my angel? Spirit guide? God? Intuition? Whatever you want to call it, I was clearly told one night during a meditation that I needed to write and help people understand our “oneness.” Still not sure what to do with this info.

    Started blogging but it felt more like a pity party, hmmm maybe it turned into a pity party because that’s what people will listen to, they don’t want to really hear about oneness, hmmmm something to ponder.


    Went back to school for Journalism~ lasted two semesters

    Got caught up in other things and prayed to God to help me find my way. I was told to surrender. At the time because of my marital issues, I took this to mean, surrender to my husband, so I learned everything I could about that and it did bring us closer together and helped out a ton, but I’m still not 100% sure that’s what I was suppose to surrender too, lol.

    Got involved in crafting. Sewing, quilting, crochet, you name it I will learn it!

    Started blogging about homemaking and crafting (Still doing this).

    Researching is my favorite thing to do. I don’t feel as though I have enough patience to go back to a traditional job. Right now, I feel like I am re-embracing this crazy part of me. I have spent so much time feeling like a failure because nothing I ever do seems to work out for the long term. I look at everyone in my family and I am nothing like them. I have 7 older brothers and sisters, none of them do this, they have all had long successful careers with maybe only 2-3 changes. My dad retired from the military, my mom retired from the electronics field. I (and I think everyone else around me) has always just taken me to be a self-indulgent spoiled brat. My parents let me do what I wanted (mostly because I was raising myself) and my husband has always let me do what I want, and wholeheartedly supports me in everything. He is a laser for sure, has been with the same outfit for 18 years. I think he is so tolerant of me because I keep things from being stagnant.

    So a few years ago (when I went for my esti license) another brother (WTH is up with big brothers!) went through my ass about why am I going back to school to learn yet another thing I will do nothing with? Needless to say it was devastating :( So I have been really struggling for a long time now. I started a journey of self discovery a couple of years ago and finally feel like things are coming together, I am finally not in the dark any longer.

    Thank you for this post, I can go back to being me without feeling ashamed!

    • says

      Wowwwwwwwwwwwww!! What an epic post that was Jennifer, LOVE it! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I totally get the part about diver dads and partners (my dad’s ex-military too, helicopter pilot – one thing all his life) and my mom is a total scanner.

      I think it’s fascination that the temp agency job was what you loved the most – cos it was always different, diverse and contractual, right? The only ‘job’ I lasted more than 9 months was when I was a massage therapist, for the same reasons – flexibility, freedom and interesting work.

      Here’s what I get from your post – you are intensely turned on by learning. So when someone says you don’t have any purpose that’s a crock of sh**. Your purpose is to learn, absorb, teach and move on, keeping elements of SOME of those experiments in your life (like Buddhism, writing, learning which are more long lasting for you)!

      Don’t know if you have read Barbara’s books but I HIGHLY recommend all 3 – Refuse to Choose, I could do anything if I only knew what it was, and Wishcraft. These books will not only help you learn more about you but show you practical strategies and resources you can use to map out the rest of your life. As will this blog and community I’m creating :)

      Jennifer, you can go the rest of your life living exactly as you have done AND feeling great about your life seeing it as a huge success! Success isn’t sticking to a job or making tons of money or having the perfect life, success is what you define it as and it’s very personal to you.

      The rest of us Sparklers wholeheartedly support you! I am SO glad you’re feeling better about your scannerdom and be proud of it! You are super special and talented and with a little support, bound to go a long way.

      Stay in touch, you FASCINATING woman!

  18. says

    Hi Tia and Hi to all the Scanners / Sparklers out there.

    I cannot tell you how much finding this site made me smile. It’s as if it was written all about me and my experiences!!! I have long recognised in myself a need to have several things on the go at once. I really resonate with the idea of getting so wrapped up in something, getting so knowledgeable about it….. and then losing interest – I’ve done that so many times at different stages in my life. Often, in response to the question “What do you want to do/be?” my answer is “I want to be an expert” – not even sure I mind what in, just want to be one :)

    So, here is my resume in brief:
    School – good at every subject…. could have chosen anything for college
    1984 – spent a year on a scholarship to music college with my flute. Hated it – too narrow
    1985 – went to Uni to study languages. Didn’t like that to much either, but got a good degree.
    Then the fun started…..
    1988 to 1990 worked my way through 3 or maybe 4 jobs in the first 18 months post-graduation.
    1989 – went abroad to work as an au pair for 9 months.
    1990 – started a new college course – 1 year, trained to be a teacher.
    1991 – 2004 – this seems like a period of stability, as I was a teacher for all this time, but unlike most of the other teachers I got to know, I changed schools every 1-3 years cos I never felt settled and happy in one place. In the background, I did some night-school classes (jewellery making, new languages), worked as a volunteer in new Mums groups as my own children came along, edited a free magazine for parents, and I set up part-time party plan businesses, which I got quite involved in for a time.
    2004-2008 – I left teaching, and knew I didn’t really want to go back. Took a bit of “time-out”. We relocated, and I took some very part-time/temporary jobs, and continued to dabble in party plan, whilst trying to decide how to reinvent myself to a role that wasn’t teaching. Trained as an NLP practitioner. Also went back to my music, and started playing my flute again and teaching it too. (Have continued teaching flute since 2008)
    2009 – took job working with parent groups teaching them about sex and relationships education. Got really passionate about it. Got made redundant :(
    2010 – took a job as a trainer. Hated it. Got sacked (for telling them I hated it I reckon!)
    also 2010 trained as a Life Coach, and decided to set up my own coaching business.
    2010-2011 – worked hard at trying to make the coaching business a success (whilst also still teaching the flute, and eventually taking a part-time admin job in a school to make ends meet). Ran workshops, networked my socks off, promoted myself as an expert in visionboards and creativity. But something not right, and got fed up with the craziness and often the inauthenticity (is that a word?) of it all, so right now have pretty much wound it up.

    So, that’s almost up-to-date. At this point, I want to go back to college (again). Couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do, so applied for 2 different courses earlier this year – one music course and one in research (my quest to be an expert again?!). Have been offered places on both, and now am AGONISING over which path to take. Would love to do both, but that’s cost-prohibitive. Am desparate to give up the part-time job and just go study, but am struggling with making that leap and staking everything on the success of whichever course. Have 3 weeks left to decide! Will let you all know…………………………

    I have ordered Barabara Sher’s book, and can’t wait for it to arrive. In the last year or so I have had coaching, life purpose readings, natal charts, human design readings etc etc to help me try to choose my path. I LOVE the notion that I am a SPARKLER and that I’m just not cut out to make the choice of one path, but to live my many passions. It’s actually such a relief to know there are many others like me, and like Michelle and Sophie said, I have thought that there’s something mentally wrong with me that I can’t settle and commit to one thing. My brain is always scanning for the next idea or project, and it can be exhausting and take you close to meltdown on occasions…..

    Thank you, Tia and I look forward to being part of this community :)

    Justine x

  19. says

    Hi all,
    I’m a 29-yrs old “Gen Y” young adult male from Indonesia, and I’ve just found out that I belong to the Scanner group as well, and I can’t even tell you how much relieving is that alone! (and I had often thought that something is terribly wrong with me, and all while my parents & ‘mainstream’ society kept criticizing me!).

    To those all of you “senior” Scanners here, I have two urgent questions however:

    1. How did you able to get accepted into those ‘variety’ kind of jobs (not necessarily a “corporate” job) when without any *related* Uni Degree and/or related work-experience background? what did you say, for example, during those job-interviews? Or, did you just have to lie a bit?

    2. Some of you mentioned that you’ve “learned” some new things such as programming, or counseling, etc. My question: How exactly did you learn all of those new things? Does it have to be through the “normal/standard/traditional” go-to-Uni-for-2-to-4-years-and-thus-waste-more-Money-and-time path? Or it doesn’t necessarily have to be that ‘rigid’ way? then how?

    I hope to hear some responses back on these issues, as I’m sure it would greatly help me to start paving my own path as being a Scanner, instead of being forever clueless & depressed & feeling like a nobody. thank you!

  20. says

    Tia — I came here after I commented on another one of your posts. It describes me so perfectly! Although my friends and family have always been supportive, I’ve also believed that somewhere in the back of their minds they were wondering why I couldn’t just stick to one thing and do it.

    Now, as I’ve come to be more confident about being an introvert, I’m going to be more confident about being a Sparkler! I’ve always said that I’ve learned something from every job that I’ve had — and there have been quite a few (in the legal field, retail, advertising, museums, higher ed and professional association). The trick, I find, is making all that experience into a coherent narrative for a prospective employer.

    But now I’m thinking I’m going to be my own employer — so I wont’ have to worry about that anymore! Also going to order Barbara’s book — sounds fascinating.

    Thanks again for putting a name to how I live my life — and for making me feel that there’s nothing wrong with me!

  21. Genevieve says

    Just ordered my copy of “Refuse to Choose” and can’t wait! I teared up just reading the intro on amazon. I had such a resonance to Barbara Sher’s previous books and even experienced a workshop with her in 2004. Am realizing now the point at which I allowed the unexpected digs (real or perceived) from people about my choice to live life for peak experiences that are meaningful to me rather than stable progression in one area to mean that I “have to” ‘get my act together’ and ‘just pick something’. That’s when I lost my own sparkle. This renaissance soul is getting her zest for life back, baby! Happy to have found others like me.

  22. Maile says

    Wow! I am so thankful that I found this article. I am def. a scanner/sparkler. I had never heard this term before, and people in my life and society at large has always made me feel that I am lazy, or wishy washy. I have always been made to feel that I won’t amount to much. I have been feeling, here I am 32 years old with nothing to show for it, because the longest I’ve ever been in a job is 1 year and 4 months, and that’s only because I knew I was being laid off eventually when I got the job. When I get a job, I learn everything I can about the job really quickly and get really good at the job, and by the time that happens, I’m bored, I lose interest, and then I try to move on to the next thing. I’ve mostly worked with young people in my career. And I feel pigeonholed into that type of career. I’ve worked retail, been a tutor, a high school teacher, a case manager for at risk youth, and a daycare worker. And while I was good at all those jobs, and they were rewarding, i kept trying to find a way out of them. They weren’t my passion. I am interested in so many things: nutrition, fitness, holistic health, yoga, zen living, social work/counseling, literature of varying types, studio art, film. My dad keeps imploring me to find something to get my masters in that is “practical and will lead to a career/job.” and i want that too, cause that’s what society wants me to do. but i have absolutely no idea what to choose, because my interests are so broad. I recently lost my job at the daycare, after months of trying to find a new job because i hated that one so much. now i’m at a crossroads, looking at needing to move somewhere new where there are jobs, and realizing that the places to move are endless and the types of jobs are endless. i’m trying to embrace the fear i feel and to let go of the expectations i have for my life so that i can truly live. but it is so hard. so it helps to know that there are people out there like me, who love the heck out of so much the world has to offer.

    • Julie says

      Wait! Are you me? LOL. Same story of my life, almost exactly! Right down to your “real” interests. (I wonder if there is a theme among sparklers, so many seem to be interested in holistic health, massage, yoga, self-actualization and mentoring.)

      I am actually about ten years “ahead” of you (in age, not in life progress!) and I finally gave in to the pressure to conform in my late thirties and secured myself a simple, good government job. I mastered it quickly (a monkey could have) and became bored and resentful. But I managed to stay five years, much of it spent self-sabotaging so that they would eventually lay me off. I have to admit, I did like the security and benefits and the approval of my parents and society in general. But I hated it. I have now been essentially unemployed for two years and I do not know what to do next.

      You posted your comment several months ago, so what’s going on with you now?

  23. says

    Just realized i never shared my sparkler resume with you. So here goes – (current-in no particular order) solo-preneur,sculptor,painter,poet, photographer, graphic-designer,creativity coach, web-developer, social media manager, aromatherapy oil maker, intuitive healer, vegan kitchen rockstar, blogger/writer. (past) fashion designer, photo-studio manager, editor, commercial artist, administrative angel, slacker lol ♥ yep, i’m a busy gal.

  24. says

    OMG… I’ve just discovered this post, and I’m TOTALLY a scanner! My husband laughs at me sometimes (in a good way) – heck, I laugh at me sometimes – because I do EXACTLY this – go from passion to passion, diving right down into it when I’m in it, but then something new comes along and I dive right down into that too.

    My resume runs along the lines of writer, crystal enthusiast, meditator, martial artist, amateur herbalist, long distance hiker, priestess, reader, body language student, cross-stitcher, joss whedon devotee, plain language enthusiast, runner, interpersonal communication student… and the list goes on.

  25. says

    Oh my gosh am I ever relieved to find a whole crew of people out there who also love a million different things. Here’s what I’ve got so far…

    2004-2005 – first job at a cafe.
    2005 – went to UBC to become a physiotherapist and study Human Kinetics, also became a sandwich artist at the campus deli (4 months)
    2006 – worked at the campus bookstore (2 months), sold walk-on tickets for BC ferries (3 months), travelled Europe (1 month), worked at my faculty’s building as a first aid attendant/general organizer (4 months).
    2007 – hostessed, lead fitness bootcamps, trained hockey players and did golf course maintenance all in one summer
    2008 – took off for Australia, Fiji and New Zealand to travel and study abroad (8 months)
    2009 – graduated with a Bachelor of Human Kinetics in Kinesiology and Health Science with a Minor in Commerce, spent the summer running volleyball tournaments (4 months), became a lab coordinator and studied the effects of exercise on cognition (4 months).
    2010 – continued at lab (4 months), quit abruptly to work in a startup positive media company which failed (2 months), worked at a bike rental store and started my own company (8 months).
    2011 – took off for South Africa, Mozambique and Indonesia on a surf odyssey with my brother (5 months), currently working at retail and persevering in entrepreneurship (3 months). Also getting itchy feet once again.

    Before today I called it Career ADD but I like the idea of being a sparkler a whole lot better.

  26. says

    What a terrific post! I’m very much a Laser, but I manage a team of people and I believe that at least one of them is a Sparkler who hasn’t realized it yet. Your post and the resources you’ve outlined will help me manage her more effectively, and tap into her innate talents and abilities while giving her the room to develop her passions.


  27. Camila Barbieri says

    I´ve always wondered why I wasn´t able to carry on with something I had started. I found myself falling in and out of love over a million things. I get obsessed and then quit, over and over and over. I´ve been a lawyer, a vet and a teacher (still am). I love crafts, want to make a living selling my stuff. I can´t stop. My brain is always active. And then.. I found this post. OMG, Tia. Thank you so very much.

    • says

      Haha, sounds like my brain :) You’re very welcome, Camila. Even though this reply is 3 years late!! How’s Scannerdom been treating you all this while? Would love an update!

  28. Sophie says

    I like this site :) Hmm. So, how does one put so many passions together to make some money??
    I have so many “things” that I love and find it very hard to nail down something that I can make a living from. I keep coming up with the idea of setting up a cafe with my friend that has an events side to it. I feel with me that I need to keep doing things, trying new things, one minute talking… then serving… then eating.. designing… creating..etc. I don´t want to do one thing so I thought this would be one fat project to get my teeth into. A strong goal which I feel I need.
    What I am scared of is picking that, then realising that I should have picked something else and running out of steam………….
    All of these interests I have are great, but I need to make a living too!
    Any advice?
    Any advice……

  29. says

    Sophie, who says you have to pick one thing and stay with it forever? Can you start your project in some way now (without having to achieve the whole goal before you know if you love it)?

    That wasn’t what I came to comment on, though… I came to say thanks for putting a name to the thing that has kept me dissatisfied with any single, driving career path – I NEED to be doing several things, and every one thing I try to single-mindedly focus on becomes boring.

    Here’s my resume:
    - Got a theatre degree & theatre job right out of college
    - Desperately bored, not enough variety in the problems to solve, so I started working in IT
    - Not enough art, so I started a theatre company in my “spare” time
    - Became a trainer
    - Didn’t get to work with others, so started managing projects
    - Felt politically isolated, so started a zine
    - Felt out of touch with my body, so started dancing
    - No one to dance with, so started a dance company
    - Needed change, so started traveling as a consultant
    - Except travel gets pretty boring, too, and I wanted to do more for others… so I started what I’m doing now.

    It’s comforting to see so many other people also finding ways to integrate their paths.

  30. Carol says

    Tia, it was amazing to discover a fellow traveler. I was diagnosed with ADD because of my life multiple choices but it didn’t change anything. I’m now on disability because I believe I broke my back by the weight of too many expectations from others and pressure from my ex-husband to be a laser! All of my cervical and lumbar disc collapsed. I was young for this to happen so now I live in debilitating pain. My ex was a laser and held nothing but contempt for me and my varied jobs but he loved that I made a lot of money! When I had to have multiple surgeries it became clear if I worked again it would be many years. So I was grieving the loss of my professional life, stuck in a web of excruciating pain and nerve damage when he tosses me out and divorces me because now I was useless to him! When my back crumbled I was a professional counselor, grant funded project manager, taking care of an elderly disabled and sick mother 2 hours away, wearing a back brace and lifting my mom, making decisions for her, dealing with isolation from my mate who was angry at the money I was spending instead of making more by staying at home and having more clients, I was also going to school full time for my doctorate. I collapsed under the weight. Did my surgeries and disability change things? No, they just got worse! The point of all this is that my resume looks much like yours. I consistently was a counselor but as a project manager there was down time between grants. This job drove my husband nuts because he couldn’t understand why I couldn’t focus on one career and make even more money! Now I help family friends with my hyper focus to research their medical or mental needs and teach them. I’m always reading 5 or more books at the same time. My significant other asks me with humor if I ever get tired of being right all the time. My brain carries a wealth of knowledge that can go no where due to my disability and pain. I wish I had this book ten years ago then maybe I could have changed my world instead of trying to be every thing to every body instead of being faithful to me. Thanks for listening and sharing. I love your resume and your life! You go girl!

  31. says

    Very interesting. That makes me a “Sparkler” Numerous job changes, educational degrees for fun, myriad hobbies = but everything with passion. :-) And now I am still doing what i am passionate about – writing.

  32. says

    I have been called a “seeker” before. I do get passionate about things, learn everything about it, and many times make a business out of it! :) Love to see it explained this way.

    I have been a dental hygienist, owned an advertising agency, owned a garden nursery, bought and sold real estate, and have been a holistic health practitioner. I’ve worked with dogs for the longest probably, but that has led me to coach people without dogs too. Because it’s really all about habits. And dog’s reflect their owners behavior. So I’ve gotten good at hearing what people are feeling and what they need and then creating new habits to attain that.

    Awesome post!

  33. says

    What happens when a sparkler marries a sparkler?

    Oh my! Thank you for this. I have caught myself saying time and time again, that life would be better for me if I could just focus on ONE thing. One skill. One talent. One passion. But truth be told, I was blessed with multiple talents. I’m not bragging. Sad part is, I want/need to monetize ONE of them (or more than one, I suppose). But WHICH one? WHEN? WHERE? HOW?

    I look forward to following you and your path to clarity.

    Wish I could remember which SHINY OBJECT led me to you…

  34. says

    OMGolly – i’m not going off my head, i’m not lazy, i’m not a commitment phobe – i’m a scanner!!!!

    Thank you soooo much – i feel more relaxed now than i’ve done in probably 30 years!

    Thanks for letting me share your journey

    Charlie xcx

  35. says

    It’s so great to find out one is not alone. :) I remember my relief the day I realize I could do whatever I wanted and be whoever I wanted to be, and how my blog could help me present who that person is (intuitive/writer/lawyer/parent/musician) to the world.

    It is really a great feeling when ones realize one doesn’t have to just stick to one thing especially when one has many talents.

    Thanks for this post.


  36. says

    Yay, my tribe! I first read Barbara Sher’s book “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was” more than a dozen years ago, and was mostly relieved that I was a Scanner, and everything was going to be O.K. This past winter, I forgot about this thing that makes me tick, and started worrying again that I was never going to be a [INSERT TODAY’S CAREER]. I was definitely falling back into the hole of “what’s wrong with me; why can’t I make tracks in anything?!” Luckily, I discovered while surfing that Barbara wrote a new book just for Scanners. I’ve lost the first book and now carry “Refuse To Choose” and a Scanner Daybook around with me as I go through it. It’s really helping me get excited about learning new things again.

    My resumé:
    • Human Biology and Zoology major in university (after dabbling with declaring Physical Anthropology, Psychology, and Peace and Conflict Studies majors); favourite course was 20th Century Espionage with a KGB defector guest speaker
    • certification in personal training, fitness assessment, yoga teacher training, rowing coaching
    • took CE courses in sports medicine and exercise science meant for doctors and physiotherapists
    • numerous workshops, CE classes, lectures, etc. in quantum physics, world literature, writing, improvisational acting, flamenco dancing, astronomy, international relations, craniosacral therapy, drawing, pottery, programming logic, database programming, Mandarin
    • accepted into 3-year acupuncture diploma program, but program was cancelled before I started
    • coached rowing (beginners, corporate, adaptive, and masters) for pay, then as volunteer
    • volunteer elementary math tutor and high school tutor (all subjects)
    • volunteered on marine biology, archaeology, ecology, medicinal botany, hydrology science projects in Spain, Hawaii, UK, Kenya, and Peru
    • have volunteered graphic design, web design & development, editing, and photography for a number of charities
    • worked part-time answering letters for a celebrity sex therapist; as a photographer for a neighbourhood newspaper
    • started a photography college diploma program, then multimedia diploma program + internship
    • currently a graphic designer and web designer, but transitioning to copy writer and technical writer

    This month, I’m taking courses in feature writing and photojournalism, but I’m also considering a class on culinary science, even though I don’t cook or bake and have no interest in either.

    It’s strange how, when you actually list everything out, it sounds more impressive than it feels when you’re jumping around from thing to thing. Just happy that I’m not the only one with such a scattered resumé!

    • says

      …I realise I’ve left lots of things off this list already, but doesn’t really matter. You get the picture: I’m into just about everything.

      My big question is why didn’t anyone tell me there were jobs for researchers when I was younger? Fact checker? Sounds marvellous. Especially as an entry-level job in journalism. They really need to tell guidance counsellors about Scanners!

  37. Michelle says

    wow, this DOES sound like me! (scanner) My resume is crazy with jobs I’ve jumped around in…I had to post that…but now I need to go read more of your site! LOL

  38. Julie says

    Hi there,
    So I am *new* to this scanner/sparkler stuff. Tia, I found you and your website when I googled “inspirational quotes”, and I got hooked immediately. I have ordered Barbara Sher’s books at my local library and should have them soon. I am hopeful and excited! I have to say that I do prefer the term “sparkler”, it seems so much more complimentary, and I do love shiny, sparkly things! “Scanner” sounds too robotic, or implies a lack of depth of thinking, I dunno. I struggle to stay positive about my seemingly lack of direction and general dissatisfaction with what is considered to be a conventional life path and career. Like so many here, I am relieved to learn that there are others like me, others who haven’t quite yet figured it all out. I always thought that there were the people who were satisfied and even happy in their conventional job, and then there were the magical people who seem to forge their own paths AND make a success of it. Those are the people that I am fascinated with, but I just have a hard time seeing myself as being one of them. It’s like they have some secret key to the universe and I was absent the day they handed those out or something. I always feel like I have fantastic ideas, but I don’t know how to make them reality and I start the defeating self-talk before I really even get started. This is ingrained in me, probably by my mother (poor Mom, gets the blame for everything). I know she did not intend to discourage me, only to protect and guide me, but when I wanted to try something as a child and as a teen, she would either take it over and then I would not want it anymore, or she would tell me all the reasons why the thing would be too difficult. She tried her best to guide me towards a secure and known quantity. And this is now what I do to myself. I want to change that. My so-called resume seems to be similar to other sparklers, all over the place (and with the seemingly requisite massage therapy stint). I can’t even remember every job I have had! I have self-sabotaged myself out of many “good” jobs. Currently I am unemployed, and I want to be self-employed and be able to support myself, my way. (Help me!) I started a blog (4 days ago), not really for anyone but me to read at this point, but just to start something, and to help me maintain motivation. I end each post with “Wish me luck!”. I have a question for you, and other sparklers. I am curious to know what you were like as a child. In particular, what sort of student were you in school, and were you obedient at home? Did you read a lot, or were you mostly outside playing? I was very compliant as a young child and student – teacher’s pet, top of my class, obedient child. School was easy and I got lots of positive feedback from adults. My biggest problem was my perfectionism. For example, I would take twice as long to complete a simple homework assignment because if I didn’t like the way my handwriting looked, I would do it over. As a teen, I started to feel the discomfort of being a square peg being forced into a round hole, and I rebelled a bit, mostly at home. School was still easy, and I just did what was expected to get through it. It pretty much bored me. College was a hit and miss. With a lack of direction, no clear career goal, I found it hard to stay motivated. I was happy to finally be able to make my own choices, I just struggled with deciding! It has been the working world of adult life that has confounded me. Do I stay at the secure (boring) government or corporate job (and make my mother happy) or do I follow my dreams and risk being broke and without health insurance? (And, what are my dream?) So, I have just gone back and forth, again and again. Now I find myself in middle age, still stuck in this same battle. I want to stop this cycle! And be HAPPY! (But not homeless.) I have always asserted that I can do anything I try with proficiency, I just don’t have any one thing that I feel at which I really excel. This is probably not true; I know that I likely just do not recognize my best skills and abilities. So this is my assignment for myself: identify my strengths and determine how best to use them. Wish me luck!

    • Margaux says

      There have been scientific studies showing that when people have too many choices, it makes them less happy and more stressed out than when they only have one, maybe two. That’s even true with two many mustard choices.

      I could tell you about my childhood, but I’m not sure it serves you to continue looking back on your life. Suffice to say, everyone is different, including all sparklers. That’s not the source of your “stuckness” today, nor is it mine. You don’t have to unravel your backstory in order to move forward now. Trust me.

      I think Barbara’s books will help you a great deal if you take in her message and do her exercises. It sounds like you could use a bunch of tools to help you figure out what you want first, tackling how you get it second. In this case, you’re far better off keeping your boring but secure job, at least until you’ve worked this through. As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you. Besides, you can’t really make your own choices until you know what those choices are.

      I suggest also that you read Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. When you buy the book, you get a code for an online test. It’s NOT the be-all test to tell you absolutely what your strengths are, but it’s a start, and it will give you some confidence about what you’re really good at.

      To further boost your confidence, send an email to some friends who’ve known you a while, people with whom you work and truly trust, and ask them to tell you what they think are your strengths, what sorts of things they can always rely on you for. Ask them for positive traits. By compiling lists from other people, you get a larger sampling size and can see what the recurring themes are. This is our first step to figuring out what makes you unique and how you create value for other people. Good luck, Julia!

  39. laurie f says

    To Julie from above post….if you see this I would love to chat with you because you seem to have written MY story as well….connecting with people who have common interests can create their own sparkle….Tia can share my email with you if you wish….

    I am definitely a Sparkler on the Journey of Self Discovery! I would say that I am an information hoarder because I find so many things in the world just fascinating! I have a “to do” list so long that I know my life is not long enough to tackle half of what I want to do, see, try. But that is ok. I have drive. There are so many people I know who don’t know what their interests are and tend to find life boring…what? Boring is never a word in my vocabulary – ever! Like Julie I was a good student in school, went to college, worked, went back to college for a Masters in Education, held teaching positions for 12 years and now find myself unemployed (due to economic reasons!), a stay at home mom and 1/2 time homeschooling mom, trying to navigate the direction of my next “career”. I am super passionate about education and the process of learning but am anti main-stream society. Branding our kids into a public school one-size-fits-all model goes against everything that I see in myself. However, I did follow the “conventional life plan and career” path but at 42 can’t pick a direction. Why? One, too many interests, two, loans that still need to be paid off, three, bills to pay, and finally a husband and daughter (and home) to take care of and support. Now what? has been the question sitting on the plate for me for two years. Oprah is quoted as saying when you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Well, how long should one take to do nothing? I get her message though and have held tight to that. I am by far the least laziest person you will meet and even though I have not held a “job” per-say for two years I have done many things. I looked into and wrote a business plan to start my own business (but talked myself out of doing it), started two blogs – one about inspiration and the other about courtesy, I took graduate classes for my teacher certification, I took/take care of my daughter, do all the household chores!!!, got involved in a penpal/writing/art project nationally, became an avid blog reader, participated in homeschooling seminars, webinars, and summits, etc.

    I have learned that I am quite introverted and shy. I can’t say that growing up I loved school and now that I have a daughter I question what method of learnig fits best with my ideas of success. I often question the idea that since I do not have a job/career does that make me unsuccessful? Despite being quiet I can hold my own and run a classroom with great efficiency (and the tummy churns and turns!). My parents were controling but not that involved. Often the answer to any question was “NO” “because I said so”….so much for developing authenticity and uniqueness. Hearing these kinds of messages throughout the lifetime of being a child these messages are stuck. Yes, we can make changes but it is hard to “unschool” the schooled mind and can take the rest of your lifetime to undo what happened from birth to 18. Not saying that things were abusive but parenting styles did not work with child learning styles hence mixed messages being relayed to the young minds.

  40. Emi Suzuki says

    Hi Tia,

    I’m glad I stumbled across your site. I’ll continue to research what it means to be a scanner. The more I read about scanners, the more normal I feel. I’ve been a junior high school teacher, high school teacher, lecturer at a university, lab instructor, software trainer, program manager at a software company, group manager of a networking group, and there are several more. Thank you for this website. I look forward to hearing from you.


  41. says

    Hi Tia! I just stumbled across your site by way of a comment you left on Social Caffeine. HOLY MOLY it’s nice to know that I’m not really alone :) I’ve had so many jobs and been all over the board . .it’s hard to explain that to people! Aerobic instructor, executive assistant, HR Manager, Account executive, Advertising and Events Coordinator, Shoe salesperson, Assistant to the Store manager, Dog Walker/Pet Sitter, Pet Photographer, Yoga Instructor/Studio Owner, Graphic & Web Designer . . and more! I just ordered the book, can’t wait to read it and more of your posts!!

  42. Drea says

    I can’t believe this! I’m definitely going to have to read Refuse to Choose. I have done everything from sell meat from the back of a truck to paralegal (now) and also now, a law student. I’ve never actually been in a “real” job for more than 2 years – I’m almost there now at this job and I’m already feeling the need to leave. My mom is so proud every time I start what she thinks is an “acceptable” job. I absolutely hate office politics and being away from my dogs.

    College at Western MI Univ – 2 years – bartending at various sites, also working at First of America bank
    College at Davenport – 1 yr
    College at Tempe Az 1 yr worked for Tempe Restaurant Associates before that was some food business I can’t even remember, they went under anyway
    then real estate in Sedona, AZ
    then back to MI a new single mom
    back to school at Walsh College finally earning a bachelors in business admin
    owned/operated an ice cream store
    then Methodist Children’s Home,
    then Jabil circuit
    then my own transcription business (that lasted 10 years until I foolishly married)
    Exhibit works doing booths for auto shows
    paralegal degree at the urging of mom to get “real” job
    selling meat outta of a truck
    probate paralegal
    bartending throughout all this
    moved to Napili, HI and worked for barnes & noble, then worked for corporation counsel county of maui
    then back to MI because of husband’s job and unemployed for a while,
    started law school,
    working now as paralegal
    and I HATE working at an office pushing paper where no one listens anyway
    and Shannon’s note above says it well…”scanner plagued with fear and worry, so I live as a laser.” only I’d say “barely survive” as a laser.

  43. Ashley says

    I am totally a scanner. I have been a nurse for 5 years but have been employed in 6 different areas of nursing. I can’t help it. I get there, I lean the job & then I quickly get bored. I have worked in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes & now a rehab facility! I have recently went back to school to earn a Degree in the Human Sciences. Longest time at a job 1 1/2, but mostly been in jobs 9 months! Glad to know that I am not crazy. I recently switched jobs because I had literally reached capacity for my Job requirements & was doing other peoples jobs as well. I just couldn’t stay because I was getting so bored & depressed! I am most Definetly a Scanner!!!!’

  44. says

    Umm, what the… Not only am I shocked to make the same discovery as you did, that I am a multipassionista, but to discover I have the same passions as you? Kinda creepy. Of course, I have a few more, lol, and I suspect you have too. I’m very curious about your process, and it’s too bad I am utterly broke. Have you ever tried mentoring, Tia? In any case, it’s a pleasure to read your blog. I’ll make sure to devour it, and who knows, maybe I’ll find my answers in between the lines. It’s what I do best. Lalala, I feel like I’ve just eaten some nutella myself. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  45. Don says

    Towards the end of my marriage I was told by my wife that I was a failure at everything I tried and nothing I did ever came to fruition. I have made some spiritual improvement since then, but her voice still lingers in my head.
    I was reading your post with tears in my eyes this morning. I now have even more faith and hope in myself and the universe than I had before.
    A thousand thank you’s!

  46. says

    I Loved this post Tia. I am definitely a scanner although for most of my life I have been ‘told’ that I should be a laser!!! Its now 30 years since I graduated from University and at the age of 53 I wonder sometimes if its too late to ‘reinvent’ myself!
    Fortunately now I don’t need to work anymore for financial gain so I am able to follow more of my passions just out of interest, as hobbies I guess – however there is still a small desire burning in me somewhere that tells me I would like to ……..????? (what I don’t know!)
    I still believe I have more to give – but is it too late????

  47. cheeni says

    Hi Tia,

    Wow..knowing about you is fantastic and gave me lot of inspiration to plan my career. After knowing who are Sparkels..Yes I can confidently say that I am also a Sparkel. But so far I have cocooned myself in to one job, which I do only due to some financial commitments and social responsibilites. Now I feel so relaxed deep in my heart after reading about u . I want to do all I love to do with passion , in my life. Would like to have more interaction and motivation from you.

    Thanks a lot

  48. Shanna says

    I Can’t tell you how glad i am that i landed on this page, and how relieved. my passions/interests keep changing. every few days a new idea.and i’m am extremely passionate about a whole lot of things at the same time too. (the only problem is the execution). and everyone has been telling me i need to change n get focused and stick with it. n I’ve been dying inside trying to get that one right answer, the 1 thing i could do forever, to plan a career path.i can suddenly breathe easy after reading this. I’m gona be just fine without changing myself completely. Thanx :)

  49. Shanti says

    Hi Tia,
    Many many thanks for giving me some hope in this state of absolute disillusionment I thought I was in. Each and every word that you have written says my story. Well, I would like to believe that I am a sparkler who is scared to follow her heart. I really cried when you wrote that people like me are none of these – lazy, irresponsible, confused… coz I was told I was one of them! I was misunderstood by many, including myself! My story also resembles many of the other sparklers who have written to you, maybe a bit from everyone else’s story! :) I have worked as a laser (software engineer) for 4 years, but that sapped my energy levels completely and started affecting my health and morale heavily, so much that I decided to quit my job to RELAX! just plain RELAX! After 1 year, my relaxation worried me so much that I ended up forcing myself to focus on one interest (I had many – working as an employee (not volunteer) in an environmental NGO, educating small children, opening a start up similar to some cottage industry, and so on…)). I visited some NGOs, volunteered with them with the hope to get employed by them, did a course in Montessori education for small kids, started tutoring small kids in the neighborhood, joined a nursery school for a very short duration, but felt a strong sense of disillusionment every time I went on to do something unconventional. Years of training to become a laser has left a deep impact on my psyche…I thank you for bringing this phenomenon and relieving the minds of people like me who are in sever distress!

    But there’s one thing that I wanna know, my fear of exploring the new or maybe failing again or maybe not attaining excellence really overpowers my interest in a particular field…Would really be thankful to you if you help me gain an insight into it….For now, I am all set to get a copy of Refuse to Choose….

  50. Ali says

    Well i am also a scanner i guess…..quite young for now to say though(just 25)…been in writing articles,debating,painter,politics,making and selling kids toys,…been poet,..director in a media society ,…security consultant,network manager..,social worker,teacher,musician ,entrepreneur,computer programer,art director, audio editor…much more stuff i cant remember…was difficult to manage unless i learned to handle my time ,resources and plans.
    sometimes made me feel pretty bad that am i different from others but quite a relief from your post ,love this post and this blog…but one issue still unresolved is about expressing yourself….well we know we are scanners…but how do we tell this to others…how do we express our scanner identity…:/
    any tip Tia?

  51. A says

    Hows this for you, I’m a Laser, but my CV reads like a Scanner because I can’t get ahead in my one true passion of being a Pilot.

  52. says

    Omg!! Thank you so much for helping me realize that I’m not ‘broken’!! I spent 16 years in corporate hell, even then showing signs of being a scanner, moving purposely opposite of the ‘cookie-cutter’ career path. I would change jobs every 4-5 years, when I could absolutely not bear it any more! I finally got the courage to leave 3 years ago…I had no idea what I was gonna do next, I just knew I had to be passionate about it! Since then I’ve just been flitting around working in restaurants, etc….feeling bad because I haven’t found my passion!! I even hired a career coach, but it didn’t help! I’m so excited to read that book & also complete your 21 day course….from the sandy beaches of Isla Mujures, MX!! Perfect place to meditate, refect & do some ME-work!! Thanks again!! Time to get my Moxie back!!! Cheers!! ~heatheR

  53. Francesca Thomas says

    I discovered that I am a Scanner back in December 2010. My resume is just horrible. My interest lies in the social sciences, but when I left high school saying I wanted to do a history degree, my parents talked me out of that saying there was no money to be made in that. So I ended up at University doing accounting instead. why? My dad is an accountant of course. I hated it and failed all my exams at the end of the first year. I was suspended on academic probation) and never went back.
    I tried various other courses, all of which I grew bored with, and eventually got a job with customer services (telephone faults) with the telephone company. Stuck it out of almost 6 years before finally taking severance when they were downsizing, because I hated that job. Spent one year unemployed and then found a fascinating job as a reader for a press clipping service – now called Media monitoring. The job was great, but the management sucked.
    Left after 5 years there and moved to Canada after I married a Canadian. In Canada I have not been able to work in any one job for more than 9 months, and have not worked at all since 2007 when I needed to have some serious surgery. I tried to get back into the work force after the surgery, but was unable to find an decent job since I have NO degree.
    So I went back to a private college to do a diploma. and in typical scanner style (although at this time I didnt know why) i chose not to specialise. I could have become a paralegal. I SHOULD have done the paralegal course. Instead I chose the broadest most general administration course they had and did that. I loved the course – it had lots of variety. But since I graduated, I have not been able to find ANY job at all. Mind you, this is also when the recession began which did not help.
    So for the last 5 years, I have stayed home to raise my kids and help my family with all the medical problems that are cropping up in our lives. I love writing and would love to write e-books, but again, I have to be a specialist for each book. I have to find one niche and stick to that. No way. That is so Boring. One niche I could write about is medical. But I also want to write about other areas of interest too. Maybe even write some fiction as well. And all my writing will be sold online as E-books. when I get around to it!!!! . LOL

  54. zorrab says

    Tia ma’am….
    i woke up in morning all frustated by the thought that i am unable to find a true single passion and i came up with this article finding that i am a SPARKLER!
    FINALLY A TERM I CAN USE FOR MYSELF! day is made by d morning:)
    When i ws in highschool, i thought of becoming an animator but thn swithed it to become an architect .. after failing to get my dream college ,i joined civil engineering and now i just completed my college 10 days ago!
    My parents and almost everyone wants to know what i wanna do further n this question is taking toll on me!
    Sometimes i think of becoming a writer(just to reach more people),
    Becoming a scuba diver(adventurous)
    Becoming an entrepreneur(self employment and money)
    Learning skills like foreign languages(i am an Indian aged 22.5)
    Doing job for 1-2 years(for resume and following my friends)
    Preparing for MBA competitive exams(parents will be relieved)
    Please can u tell me of some !dea in which i can BLEND all or some of these to start with?????

    Or u have any other life changing advise for me?


  1. [...] Some would consider juggling multiple projects as a bad thing, but I like to look at it as having the freedom to do what I’m in the mood for when I’m in the mood to do it. So when I’m tired of writing about one topic, I can move onto another one. If I’m tired of writing, I can process some photos. And if I’m tired of being in front of the computer, I can go take some photos. All in all, having so many things going on is a great fit for my scanner personality! [...]

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