Shiny Object Syndrome: How You Can Control It
Are you easily distracted by “shiny” new ideas?
Are you constantly starting new ideas only to move on to the next one as soon as it gets hard?
Do you only ever make it through 50% of an online course that you’ve purchased, before ditching it for the bigger, better, coolest program out there (only to do the exact same thing 50% of the way through).
Well, chances are you have shiny object syndrome, also known as SOS.
Don’t worry, it’s not fatal, but if it’s plaguing you, you’ll need to take action if you want your business to thrive.
Never fear, as a former sufferer, I’ve beaten this incapacitating sickness and I’ve got you covered.
How Do I Know If I Suffer?
Here’s a list of some of the characteristics I’ve associated with shiny object syndrome. Keep in mind: this is not an exhaustive list, but it is a start.
- You have 100 domain names and fewer than 5 built-out websites.
- You sign up for 2 or 3 big “training” webinars, but always end up having something else come up at the last minute and don’t make the call.
- You have 20 business ideas on paper, but none implemented to convert leads into real business.
- You purchase the latest “how to” course, but you never build or launch that product or service.
- You start a new project or marketing strategy without analyzing how it fits into your short and long-term business goals.
You constantly start things, but never finish them.
Is this you? Well, you’re not alone, MILLIONS (probably closer to BILLIONS) of people suffer as well.
How Can I Prevent It?
So, you want to prevent SOS? Here’s a step by step guide to avoid and prevent this very real and contagious condition.
Chances are you’re probably already good at this, but it’s important that you need to do this anyways. You can’t stop if you don’t start.
So freaking start already.
Victims who suffer from SOS often find themselves continually “starting” things – doing the easiest possible thing to constitute “starting.”
Unfortunately, too many sufferers of SOS get caught in the starting spiral which looks something like this:
Start –> Start Over –> Start Again –> Keep Starting
Don’t get caught in the starting spiral! Keep going and then you have to do something really, really important.
This is where most people screw up. They don’t mean to really, but often this mistake is made more through neglect than intentionally.
The mistake made is the lack of decision. They never decide what they’re going to do.
This frequently causes indecision, paralysis and uneasiness of the future, since you’ve left it up to chance.
The failure to make a decision is often followed by bouts of procrastination, followed by guilt of said procrastination, followed by even more procrastination.
Here are 2 quick ways you may be able to help overcome your shiny object tendencies, or at least think differently about how you are operating day-to-day.
- Plan your day. First thing in the morning, I like to jot down the 3 to 5 things that I most want to accomplish for the day. I number them in priority and work on number 1 until it’s finished before moving onto the next ones. This helps more than you might think.
- Remove distractions. For me this is email. However, for you this may be reading other blogs or following social media. I would set up specific times a day where you are “allowed” to check email, read blogs, or check social media posts. As a coach and project manager, I also tend to set up my calendar to accept calls scheduled only on particular days of the week and times of the day. (And no, I do not tend to monitor text or Facebook messages during the day… only during my designated email and social media times. You will find that being a little more strict with your time will help you accomplish much more.
So if you’re going to stop the shiny object syndrome, you need to look at your list of your top ideas or things “to do” and decide which you’re going to tackle first… and stick with it!
How Do You Decide Which “Great Idea” to Pursue First?
I like to use the following image to describe how you might want to make this decision.
What I like to do is to put each “idea” or “project” on a sticky note. I love sticky notes … and different colors let you distinguish whether the idea is for a future product or service, a blog post, a promotional offer, or for lead generation. Or, as in this example, each idea can be color-categorized as to whether it could be a quick win, a major project, hard slogs that would need to be worked out technically, or moderate-size tasks that can fill in during slower times.
For each idea or project, then decide how much potential Impact it would have on your business versus the amount of effort you feel it is going to take.
If I have a number of “great” ideas I usually like to tackle one or more of the “quick wins” first. Once I have those completed, I then like to begin planning out a major project where the scope of the project can be organized into the individual tasks that are going to be required.
For me projects that will have a higher impact on my business will always take priority over those with low impact, unless it is a “fill in” type of idea that can be implemented quickly.
Using this visual approach you can keep ALL your shiny object projects and ideas right in front of you, but also understand where you need to focus your current time and resources.