How many projects have you started and then dropped because you got bored or something newer and shinier pulled your attention away?
Within weeks or months, you realize the idea wasn’t as brilliant in practice as it was in your head.
It’s enough to drive you crazy. And then you beat yourself up, telling yourself that you’re not capable of finishing anything.
So wait, what happened? Shiny object syndrome, friend. Shiny object syndrome is what happened.
First, let’s get this straight – we’ve all been there irrespective of the field we belong to. We see a shiny object and chase it without thinking it through.
To be clear, shiny object syndrome isn’t a medical syndrome as such. It’s a name given to a condition that’s pretty common among several entrepreneurs and creatives.
Shiny object syndrome results in you being easily distracted, impulsive and unable to focus on anything long enough to finish it.
It’s human nature. We all do it.
And, if you happen to have ADHD, your shiny object syndrome probably appears more frequently and more intensely than those who don’t have ADHD.
You can tame the impulsivity to mindlessly dive into new things.
Here are 4 Quick Fixes to Prevent Shiny Object Syndrome from Winning
#1 Sleep on it.
When an idea first steps through your brain’s front door, don’t welcome it with open arms. Instead, stare it down with suspicion at first – have a cuppa with the idea and scan it top to bottom before deciding if you should sit with it for dinner.
Some prefer to call this “sleeping on the idea” or giving yourself some “thinking time”. The fact is any idea that sticks with you past the 24-hour think period is usually worth considering further.
#2 Make a doable plan to achieve your goals
When you don’t have any goals set, you give yourself permission to act impulsively and mindlessly jump from one thing to another. Setting goals grounds you. It gives you a framework to make decisions from. Set goals that speak to your soul.
Take your annual goals and break them down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.
Grab a planner and schedule the tasks you’ll do every day to work towards your goals. Keep it out where you are working.
I start every week identifying the three big things that are going to move me close to achieving my goals. These are three things that I’m getting done this week, no matter what. These three things drive the specific tasks I schedule in my daily planner.
#3 Identify the cost of the shiny object
Setting goals is so dang important because when those shiny objects come in, you’ve got to have the discipline to ask yourself, “Does this fit into the goals I’ve set for this year?”
That’s how I avoid getting distracted. If something comes into my world and I ask myself, “Does this fit into the goals I’ve set this year?” If the answer is no, then I ask myself, “Do I really need or want this? Is this something I’ve overlooked but is really important?”
The answer is often no. Then I go back to the goals I’ve set, head down, do the work.
Now, once in a while, the answer is yes. And that’s when I have to decide, “Okay. Am I going to sacrifice one thing for another?” We all now that every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else and might not realize it in the moment, but you are.
If I say yes to something, I go back to rearrange the goals I’ve already set because this shiny thing I’m saying yes to wasn’t really part of my plan.
#4 Talk about your goals
Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I talk about my goals often and out loud to others, it almost brings them to life and they become more a part of me.
Talk about your goals often, and it becomes your North Star. You know where you are going because it’s just part of your conversations. It’s just a part of you.
Speaking about goals holds me accountable to myself and others and it reminds me of my game plan.
When those shiny objects pop up then I can decide:
- Do I want to do them and change around what I’ve already done?
- Is this something that I can put on a wish list and come back to at a different time?
- Is this an opportunity I’m willing to miss because I know that I’m really clear where I’m going and how I’m getting there?
Taking a moment to pause, reflect and make thoughtful decisions is the most effective way to not mindlessly fall prey to shiny object syndrome.