Shiny object syndrome: a fancy phrase to describe the excitement I feel on a daily basis as I come across things, programs, places, ideas, I’d like to own, take part in, visit, pursue.
Yep. Like many other entrepreneurs, I suffer from the shiny object syndrome.
When you run your own business, one of the awesome things about it is that you achieve the freedom you desperately desire to work on whatever you want, wherever you want and whenever you want. There’s noone telling you what you do, where to do it, or when to deliver it. Now, that all sounds great on paper, but it also means that you – and only you – are responsible for making clear decisions on the what, where and when.
And for holding yourself accountable. *eek*
That’s when the shiny object syndrome can prove to be a huge distraction. In fact it can almost be paralyzing. It can lead even the smartest entrepreneurs to achieve only modest success when they could have achieved much more.
I used to have to fight this sense of paralysis pretty much every day. Whether it was the promise of greatness/efficiency/success from one of my favourite entrepreneurs that lead me down a rabbit hole of sales pages, opt-ins and videos about the next best thing… and suddenly I’ve lost a whole afternoon because their program or offer has consumed me and sent my mind into spirals of “what if?” Or a simple email newsletter from an airline announcing a glamorous new destination that meant I’d spend the next hour dreaming and planning my next trip. The urge to indulge in, and explore, the daydream is high.
The problem is that shiny object syndrome can lead to a monumental waste of time as well as a depressed state of mind when you realise how much time you’ve wasted investigating different pathways but not having gone down any of them.
I’m by no means cured of this syndrome….but I certainly have improved my management of it. As a result, my working and personal life has improved inordinately.
Shiny Object Syndrome Antidotes
The most important change in my behaviour has been my use of a virtual buffer zone. Let me explain by giving you a few examples.
Books are my biggest challenge. I have a bedside table full of them waiting to be read, plus multiple shelves and boxes full of those already devoured. There are so many amazing books begging to be read, either when I visit a bookstore or library, or as a result of recommendations from my network. So, because my husband was getting rather annoyed at the overflowing nature of my bedside table, rather than buy them all at once and then get cross that I don’t have time to read them all, I now use Goodreads to create a To-Read list that I can then get back to when I’m finished with the current book or two that I have next to my bed.
Articles are another potential shiny object for me. So I use either Pocket or the Bookmark option on my computer to save the best ones. I then read these articles during a bike ride at the gym (yes, a stationary bike!) or if I happen to find myself on public transport, or when I’m having a lunch break. This way I avoid getting distracted in my productive work hours. Funnily enough, I never end up reading all the articles, because things that looked amazing at the time of finding, sometimes lose their shine a day or so later…so that saves me time too!
I’m a lifelong learner for sure. So every chance I get I want to soak up others’ knowledge. The problem with that is that the knowledge is not always as relevant or useful as it could be, and the cost ($ and time) benefit is often out of whack. So, if I see a new program or course I want to do, I tend to save the information and shelve it for a few days. If I dream about it, think about it, can visualise myself doing that program, hanging out with that leader, being on that retreat, then I know I need to investigate it further. I also make sure to ask myself “Have I done something similar before? Have I implemented all that I already know about this topic? How would this new knowledge help me progress?”
I hope those insights and antidotes are helpful. By no means am I ‘cured’ but I definitely know how to manage the syndrome more efficiently. Would love to know your experience on this subject.