This post is inspired by an article by Barbara Sher in this month’s Psychologies magazine.
In the article, she talks about serial starters – people who keep taking up new hobbies or starting new projects but don’t always finish them – in other words, me.
I start things: sometimes I finish them; often I don’t, I get near to the end and then stop; frequently I return to them, then stop again. I thought there was something wrong with me because I can’t settle to one thing and become an ‘expert’ at it, no matter how desperately I resolve to. This was making me feel lacking, deficient, flawed. However, I now discover I’m not alone and there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just curious and get a buzz out of experiencing new things. There’s a website, Dabbler, where you can sign up and learn a new hobby every month. I registered, but didn’t take it any further, worried that it would encourage me to start even more things that I never finish.
There seems to be a general consensus, drummed into us from an early age, that it’s virtuous, desirable and even necessary to finish what we start. However, it might be just as good to stop before we finish. Maybe we do so because we’ve got what we came for and our goal has been achieved. People like us, scanners, are versatile, willing to learn new things and adaptable to changing circumstances. Barbara Sher likens our brain to ‘a big happy puppy’ – what a lovely image!
So I’m not going to feel guilty about taking up and giving up a new hobby, or starting but not finishing a new project. I’m going to celebrate the fact that I’m curious, motivated and enthusiastic about taking on the challenge of trying something new. I’m a jack-of-all-trades and it doesn’t matter that I’m master of none.
Are you a scanner?