The 3 Phases of Excitement (According to Barbara Sher)

We’ve discussed scanners before – people with varied interests. (You may also know them as hummingbirds, polymaths, multi-potentialites). When a scanner is interested or excited about something, she/he has unstoppable energy and enthusiasm and can’t wait for the idea to be realized.

Barbara Sher, author of Refuse to Choose who coined the term “scanner,” says that we should be aware of the 3 phases of excitement. (This might apply to you even if you’re not a scanner, by the way.):

1.  Initial Excitement – In phase 1, you think your idea is pretty good to the point of elation.*  Barbara Sher says that when you are deep into this honeymoon phase with your idea, write it all down, record as much of it as you can. Not outlines, but details that you will still understand in the future. You’ll need this information later.

2. The Crash into Cynicism / Resting Phase– This second phase sees you thinking that the idea is now rubbish. Who are you to think it would work? You think that you must stop doing this unrealistic stuff.  “When you crash, try to understand that you have crashed because you’ve expended too much energy,” says Sher.

In this phase you’re gathering more energy. Be aware that this phase might last a day, a week, months or years. Be patient with yourself.  Barbara Sher suggests you let this period occur for as long as it needs to do so.

3. Re-igniting the Excitement –  At some point, you become interested in your idea again. This third phase resembles the first one. However,  this time you’re not flying so high. You’re also not crashing into cynicism. Go back to the details that you’ve written down in the first phase. It is in this more reasonable phase where you -finally- get things done.

I personally would not like that resting period to last too long; I want to get stuff done. But then, that might be my problem – pushing things that shouldn’t happen yet. What do you think?

Check out the video of the author on a casual walk in the woods discussing this topic: Barbara Sher on 3 Phases of Excitement .


Peace be with you,


*Random Trivia: When the fictional character Anne Shirley says, ” I can’t help flying up on the wings of anticipation; it’s as glorious as soaring through a sunset,” she’s talking about phase 1. That’s a reference for all the fans of Kevin Sullivan’s film version of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne books. Watch the scene here.