Many entrepreneurs (including myself once in a blue moon) are far too familiar with shiny object syndrome (S.O.S.) … well the act of it, not exactly WHAT it is and how it impacts our businesses ever so greatly. And it got me thinking … there’s really no better time than now to dig into WHAT it is, WHY it happens, and HOW one can use it as a benefit rather than a distraction.
So, let’s get started with tackling today while keeping an eye on tomorrow ...
First of all, let’s talk about WHAT shiny object syndrome is because the other day I realized some people don’t know, as it’s not a common term used in our day-to-day business lives.
At its core, shiny object syndrome (S.O.S.) has most often been referred to as a disease of distraction. It affects everyone around the globe but especially entrepreneurs due to what makes us so unique in the good ‘ol virtual land of technology. We constantly crave new technology, and new platform developments and upgrades. And due to us being highly motivated, we are certainly not afraid to create new things, try out shiny new platforms or programs, and start new projects all on a whim!
It is the tendency to follow an idea or trend without first weighing its potential and as a result, get distracted from your current pursuit. But shiny object syndrome is not an inherently bad attribute. While it is important to focus on completing what you've started, it is also just as important to make time to explore and try new "shiny objects".
But when S.O.S. creeps up and sets in, it forces one to chase virtual platform after platform, project after project, new idea after new idea, and change after change. Sadly, this means one may never settle on just ONE option. This then leads to a great deal of daily inefficiencies, lack of productivity then leading us to lack of time and a whole heck of a lot of stress!
They call it shiny object syndrome because it’s the entrepreneurial equivalent of a small child chasing after shiny objects. I like to think of it as an animal -- a cat with a laser pointer -- that it can never seem to grab with its cute little paws, no matter how hard they try.
For entrepreneurs, rather than literal shiny objects, it’s usually the newest cat’s meow of a platform (you know, the one “everyone” says is the “next best thing”), social trends, marketing strategies, clients, or perhaps even other business ventures.
Reality check … shiny object syndrome is keeping you trapped!
So, imagine this …
You just had the most amazingly brilliant idea. Maybe even the idea of a lifetime. And you think it’s basically now or never that you start working on it. So, you put the pedal to the metal and hit the gas … and drive full speed into it.
A few months (or perhaps mere weeks) down the road you realize the idea wasn’t as brilliant in practice as it was in your head. But wait, why? What happened?
Shiny object syndrome, my friend … Shiny object syndrome is what happened.
We have all been there one time or another, we see a “shiny object” and chase it without thinking it through fully. This could be a genius idea with many moving parts, a new platform that’s all the rage (or so people say), or old moving parts that need some new love -- or upgraded technology.
And if you think about it, technology truly has some powerful downsides to go along with its benefits and S.O.S. just happens to be one of them!
Successful entrepreneurs (just like you and I) tend to have high initiation … We take ideas and run with them. And usually quite quickly! Rather than feeling as though we’re going to miss out on opportunities, or wait around for others to get started, we put the wheels in motion.
However, this can often manifest as a lack of focus. Something we feel is critical and time-sensitive is in our virtual crosshairs and we’re off to the races. And while impulsivity is among one of the major forces behind entrepreneurial success (and artistic genius), it comes with a catch …
One can ever so quickly lose control or get distracted by yet another bright object before one has even had the chance to make any real true progress.
It’s not rocket science. You’re living in a rabbit hole with a sense of compulsion. You want that carrot and aren’t thinking of all the other elements that could send you in a completely different direction.
At the true entrepreneurial heart of the issue, when you are constantly distracted, a few things tend to happen …
If this feels like YOU as you are thoughtfully listening to today’s episode, cue the screams and the horror movie soundtrack …
Because it's TIME to buckle down and FOCUS!
Yah, that was a bit dramatic … But as a creative and organizational expert in my field, let me tell you … it’s only natural that your mind be flooded with ideas that are begging you -- literally knocking on your front door -- wanting to be created and launched.
I personally, do this quite often when it comes to goals for Virtually Untangled and our clients. But there’s a time and a place. And it’s truly best to understand that not every trend is the future or the next best thing to do. And this is not only in relation to the “best new” platforms to try or algorithms to test ... This is also about all those new snazzy ideas you have spinning around on your golden hamster wheel.
My team and I handle this by creating bucket lists in our project management tool, Asana. And we do this in order of importance, what’s realistic timewise as well as based upon short-term and long-term goals. Thus, having cleared our genius brains so we can solely focus on the most important virtual goodies first. And all is not forgotten -- just set aside for the time being.
Which brings me to one of my most favourite quotes of all time, which is quite fitting by Rachel Gadiel, Writer and Content Strategist …
“Starve distractions. Feed your focus.”
You must understand that new doesn’t always mean better and to try to see past all the hype. Every single minute of every single day there are new shiny objects in our virtual worlds.
… New platforms and programs.
… New social trends and algorithms.
… New products and services.
… New training opportunities and freebie guides.
… New start-ups and competitors.
But it’s up to YOU to do your absolute best to not follow the mob mentality; where you feel the need to jump ship and follow the herd. Just do what works for you and your team -- if you have one. And ask yourself …
In most situations, it’s best to play the “wait and see” game. To take some time to differentiate if it’s a real opportunity or just another shiny object. Be ruthless in saying “no” so you can make room for the real opportunities that will make a true impact on your business.
There's actually another reason we wanted to share all this with you today …
For starters, it happens WAY more often than you think.
And sadly, it just happened to one of our favourite "untangling" clients who burnt their business deep down into the ground. To the point of it being near non-existent.
They wanted everything shiny and new the very second it came out. They were constantly switching gears with current projects, new ideas, and every platform that hit their inbox “on sale”. They were not able to hunker down and focus -- or allows us to -- on the goals and projects at hand.
Everything always needed to be newer and "bigger and better" according to the virtual "gurus" of the world. No matter what we tried, we just couldn't help them focus and see the bigger picture. We couldn’t help them finish projects to completion because every new idea was an “emergency” and more important than the ones we were currently working on. And before we knew it -- no matter how many conversations and reminders were had -- we had upwards of 30 projects in the mix but without producing any real results as they were all partially started and never completed.
So, that being said … the customer is always right … but in the same breath not!
To us, this is ever so sad and completely breaks our hearts ... We are still doing our best to help them get back to “untangled” … But there’s a lot more work to be done to undo the shininess that ever so broke, well, everything.
So, we feel, the more people who know that SOS and FOMO are real, the better!
Here’s the thing, to sum this up all nice n’ neat with a colourful bow …
>> YOU own and operate your business.
>> YOU are the bread and butter of #AllTheThings.
>> YOU are the only one in charge.
So much of this solo-virtual lifestyle is about putting trust in yourself. And that’s something that has to be learned and cannot be taught. It’s a lot of trial and error and learning to create gifts from our imperfections.
So, take a deep breath, think about everything we shared with you today -- because YES! It’s truly that important -- and develop some criteria for which “shiny” objects are truly worth your time and effort, and which ones really need to be left alone or placed on your bucket list …