When I first stumble over an internet article on the so-called “scanner” personality, I felt relief. I recognized myself and was happy; I am not deviant or a typical loser.
The idea of scanner personality says that there are people who change their profession or the main hobby approximately every five years. It calmed me down to know this since I was always wondering why I start a new line of work and then get bored in a while.
But once I had a telephone interview, the recruiter asked why I changed my study subject two times and then had few quite unrelated jobs. That was a German recruiter, and I knew that she would love to see some stability in my career path to ensure that I was not in a long-lasting self-discovery phase. Only in that case, she would employ me.
I then came up with a kind of continuity in my CV. I told her that I’d switched from one subject of study to another to understand the previous one better. I studied political science after economics to better comprehend economic developments. And that studying political science made me interested in mass communication.
The issue of continuity in my career touched me a lot. Two years later, I was asked by another recruiter if I was still looking for my main vocation or not. At that time, I was not convinced that I really had to reflect on my changing occupations way too fast and too easy.
First, as I’d got some pragmatic reasons to think it more carefully over, I began to do so. Since I changed quite a few jobs, I realized that I never had time to become a good professional in any field. That meant that I was not going to earn as much money as I maybe would like to.
This raised two questions, bringing me to the next level of my considerations. I’d been earning enough money for a fun life at that time, and my salary actually grew, but my expenses grew too. I then thought back at my time at the university and realized that I used to be happy with less money before. I was wondering how that could be. So, the question was, why I needed more and more money? Maybe, to compensate for some unhappiness?
The second question followed then. If I was not going to increase my earnings, because I was not getting much better in my job, and the job was not making me happy, so why not do something more pleasant, but for less money?
Next, I thought about my time on the campus again. I never went to expensive restaurants or never visited any tourist destinations. We used to go hiking, which cost us almost nothing and attended some grill parties, and that was enough. With all my well-paid jobs, I only started to spend more money on opera, steak houses, good wine, and “professional” outdoor clothing.
After these pragmatic reasons — that may not even have to do with being or not being a scanner personality — persuaded me to elaborate on my further career path, I decided to make a two months break. During this time, I wrote a lot in my diary, walked around many hours, cried a lot, got on my husband’s nerves, and did other things that a person in crisis would do.
After a while, I was able to turn back to my pragmatism and noticed that in less than two months, I filled more than 400 A4 pages with handwriting and shot around 1500 pictures. On some days, I drew a few sketches one by one. And doing this, I was in the flow. It took no effort.
I looked back at all my jobs, and my years at the university, and even at my school time. I was not scanning at all! I was just too insecure about being able to make my living with what I actually liked.
At school, I wrote a lot of essays on human rights that my history teacher even got published. Then my literature teacher told me that my essays were too egocentric, with too many “I”s. In a post-communist country, that was still a NoGo that she tried to warn me about. I’d never been especially self-confident, so I just stopped writing at all. Before that, in primary school, I gave up my painting classes since everybody told me that artists are all ever drunken people, earning money only occasionally and living in poverty.
At the university, I mainly enjoyed writing, not doing research or learning. At my SEO job, I spent almost whole days with content creation, including link building, and seldom touched any technical issues. In my data science jobs, I avoided drag-and-drop tools and stuck to programming since programming was another way of writing for me, of telling a story through a script.
At that last particular period, I started to think about the part of the day I had to spend in the office as of a sacrifice. If this is how you used to think about your job, please stop. That does no good. And it makes no sense to earn more money with the job you hate because you are going to give away more money as well to achieve the so-called work-life balance. You’ll spend more on your hobby because you’ll feel an urgent, unavoidable need to recover after work.
As I said in one of my previous posts, it is OK to feel tired after work, but it is a warning sign if you feel too frustrated or suck dry. And especially if you’d changed few quite different occupations, maybe you should start to look over similarities between them that seemed minor to you but that you actually enjoyed doing. Or at least were not forced to overcome your own “laziness.” I wrote about it too.
Following this advice, you may get out of a false “scanning” and start to live and work.