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Shiny object syndrome causes distraction and overwhelm for many entrepreneurs and small business owners.  At it’s core, shiny object syndrome prevents people from focusing on what’s in front of them, as they are distracted from what matters by chasing after shiny objects.

The key symptom of shiny object syndrome is the continual chasing of new exciting things to do which wastes time, energy and focus, instead of focusing on their most important work, which can help them achieve their goals.

Shiny object syndrome (SOS) involves the chasing of new trends, opportunities and ideas without evaluating their benefit first.  This causes distraction and a lack of focus on your biggest opportunities in the present moment.

What is shiny object syndrome?

Shiny object syndrome is a habit that causes you to be constantly distracted, as you chase anything that looks new and exciting.   This distraction is caused by a new idea, trend, recommendation or something everyone else is doing.  The result of being easily distracted by shiny objects is that it always takes you away from the important work in front of you.

Do you have shiny object syndrome?  Are you always chasing bright shiny objects rather than focusing on the task at hand?

What causes shiny object syndrome?

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners experience shiny object syndrome because they don’t have the clarity, confidence or capability to focus on their biggest strengths.  They have too many shiny object projects on the go, many unfinished.

Frustration with your goals, frustration with your progress, frustration with your revenue can lead to shiny object syndrome.  Comparing yourself to others can cause you to chase bright shiny objects.

Being an entrepreneur in the digital age can cause you to be easily distracted by shiny objects.  There is new exciting technology to understand and explore.

You are inundated on a daily basis with content and gurus promoting this new system or this new and exciting way to achieve the specific result you want.

If shiny object syndrome is holding you back from making real progress towards achieving your goals, you’re in the right place.

How do you prevent shiny object syndrome?

You can prevent shiny object syndrome by focusing on what’s important right now, rather than chasing new things all the time.  If you spend much of your time chasing new things you’ll stay overwhelmed, scattered and unproductive.  This lack of focus causes tasks and projects to be started and left unfinished, wasting time and energy.

Here are 6 simple ways to prevent shiny object syndrome:

  1. Stop taking on too many new projects
  2. Find someone to keep you focused
  3. Finish what you start
  4. Focus on the things you love to do
  5. Do more of what you’re great at
  6. Don’t be influenced by “results” on social media

5 ways to overcome shiny object syndrome

Here are 5 ways to overcome shiny object syndrome in your business.

1. Set better goals

If you are easily distracted by shiny objects the first step is to set better, measurable goals.  Entrepreneurs chase bright shiny objects when then don’t have the clarity on what they want to achieve and when they want to achieve their goals by.  This lack of focus and direction creates distraction.  Which causes shiny object syndrome.

If you want to stop chasing bright shiny objects get clear on exactly what you want to create in your business and what results you want to achieve.

Use goal setting to set your long-term vision and create short-term 90 day measurable goals to focus on.

You will always be chasing bright shiny objects if you don’t know what you want, and have a clear action plan to achieve that result.

If you don’t know what you want, you’ll constantly be chasing bright shiny objects and be following everyone else’s advice.

Set five exciting measurable goals for the next 90 days or next month and just focus on those things.

2. Get more accountability

As an entrepreneur you may feel like you have an abundance of time to try new things and experiment with new ways of doing things, because you are in control of your time.  The honest truth is that you don’t.

Multiple unfinished projects and new bright shiny objects to explore just means you’re not managing time effectively and ensures that you get nothing of real substance completed.

You can waste days or week learning something new or going down rabbit holes.

One of the best ways to get out of overwhelm is to get more accountability and focus.  Working with an experienced accountability coach can help you stay focused on your goals and ensure you don’t spend weeks and months chasing bright shiny objects, that don’t move you closer towards your goals.

3. Start saying no more often  

If you say yes to everything, and continually chase bright shiny objects, you’ll live in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed.

When you have clarity on your goals and have a clear path and plan to follow, it’s easier to say no.  If you don’t you may be saying yes to everything.

To overcome shiny object syndrome start saying no more often to new opportunities and new things.

Make no your default setting to new projects and new requests for your time, energy and focus, unless it completely aligns with your goals.

4. Evaluate the bright shiny objects

Bright shiny object syndrome causes entrepreneurs to start taking on new projects without first evaluating their value or how it aligns with their goals.

Taking the time to evaluate new opportunities can save you days and weeks of wasted time and energy.  If you’re easily distracted, start evaluating everything.

Ask yourself questions like:

“What is the purpose?”

“How does it align with my goals?”

“What difference will it make?”

“What’s the best result it will achieve?”

“How much time will it take?”

“What financial investment is required?”

When you analyse the opportunity and you see a clear benefit for taking action, then go for it.  If you don’t stay focused on what’s in front of you.

5. Stop comparing

One of the biggest causes of shiny object syndrome is comparison syndrome.  With comparison syndrome you can feel like a failure when comparing your achievements or success with others.

This can cause you to feel stuck and start chasing bright shiny objects because other people have had success with them.

Feeling stuck and overwhelmed also occurs through fear of missing out, or FOMO, when we feel inadequate to the people we’re comparing ourselves against.  We then waste time and energy looking at what are doing, or what they, and trying to copy.

You stop comparing when you have clear goals to follow and feel gratitude for what you have, and what you’ve achieved.

When we compare we experience low self-esteem and low self-confidence, which causes us to chase more bright shiny objects to feel better about ourselves.

But, self-confidence comes from trusting and believing in yourself.  This belief comes from having better goals and following your own path.

Conclusion

Shiny object syndrome causes distraction and overwhelm.  If you’re feeling distracted and overwhelmed right now, use these five tips to help you get more focused and productive.

By becoming aware of what causes shiny object syndrome, and how you can overcome it, you’ll be able to break the pattern once and for all.

Now I’d love to hear from you.

Do you experience shiny object syndrome?  If so, what’s your best tip for overcoming it?

Let me know in the comments.

Read also.

How to stay focused: 10 tips to improve focus

About the Author

Mark Pettit is the Founder of Lucemi Consulting and a small business coach to business owners who want to simplify their time, energy and focus so they can multiply their freedom, impact and results.

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