As an entrepreneur, have you ever started something new with motivation and excitement, but soon enough found yourself distracted by other, more “interesting” things? You found a new online business strategy, for example, but decided that it doesn’t work just a week after experimenting with it? Sound familiar? This type of behavior is often classified as the dabbler mentality and is brought on by the “shiny object syndrome”, which will be the topic of this post.
Shiny object syndrome (SOS) definition
The term “shiny object syndrome” comes from the idea that shiny things are attractive. They may be attractive to small children or even animals. But the moment such an object is approached close enough, its shininess vanishes and the child or animal loses their interest in it. Oddly enough, this kind of behavior is often seen in grown-ups as well.
As an entrepreneur, you are ambitious about life and ready to take the risks. Unlike the average Joe, you are constantly thinking of how to get outside of your comfort zone in order to stand out from the crowd. Because you are not interested in the ordinary nine to five job, you understand that you must hustle to earn your place in the sun. Because of this, you look for new techniques and strategies to help your business grow.
Unfortunately, having the entrepreneurial mindset comes with its own problems. For example, you find something that interests you, but you fail to make it work. Why? Because something better, more exciting came along. Hence, the shiny object syndrome. You find yourself taking on new tasks and projects, but you just can’t get through with them because your business brain is telling you that there are better options out there.
There may be different reasons why the shiny object syndrome dominates in different people. Some people simply may have the dabbler mentality, which means that they are not able to stick to anything in their life for too long. Either they quickly lose their interest in it, or they easily get discouraged and quit.
On the other hand, even full-time entrepreneurs have the syndrome. Because they know how crucial it is not to waste any time, they get anxious holding on to some plan for too long. If it doesn’t work, then I must find a better approach. But the problem is that certain accomplishments and goals require more time than others. Not everything can be achieved fast. This is especially difficult to grasp if an entrepreneur has previously had some success that they achieved fast. Now they have the mindset that everything can be done just as quickly. And if it isn’t, then it will never work. I personally know people that live by this philosophy. They think that if a business cannot make them good money almost instantly, then it’s a bad business. It’s crazy, and needless to say, these people are not amongst the most successful.
SOS! What to do about it?
There are certain cases when you need to give up a project or a strategy, and that’s ok. Sometimes, it just isn’t profitable, or maybe you feel like you need to move on with your career. But that’s only after you have spent enough time trying.
On the other hand, if you see that you are starting a project after project without actually taking anything to a logical end, while feeling exhausted and seeing no success, then the shiny object syndrome has gotten out of hand for you.
Don’t worry though. Most of the things can be fixed in life, and that’s the beauty of self-development. If you are reading this, then you are already on the right track.
In order to help yourself to overcome your problem, the first thing to do is to accept the fact that you have a problem. Acceptance is always the first step towards positive change. You must really be aware of your actions and the way you go about things.
After you have accepted the effects of the shiny object syndrome, you can sit down and take some time to think what is it that you want from life.
Some of the questions you may ask yourself are: Am I ready to put my time and energy into this business? What strategies do I see as the most effective? Can I handle it at this very moment? Do I have enough money for it now? Does it really interest me? Can I postpone it for later? Will it change my life? Feel free to create more questions based on your personal situation.
One thing to remember also is that nothing beats thorough research. Before diving into something, look at all of the alternatives and look online at what others have to say. One common problem that I see is that people get into something without properly researching it first. And that is, unfortunately, a recipe for failure.
Finally, don’t be all over the place. Take a couple of the most important things in your life, and focus on them. The more you have going on at the same time, the less likely it is that you will become, as Seth Godin likes to say, remarkable in them. And if you do have many things that you want to try out, prioritize, and start with the most significant first. With time, you can proceed with the other tasks, projects and strategies.
I am a big believer in setting goals. If you don’t have goals, you don’t know where you are heading and you won’t know when you have arrived there. It’s as simple as that.
However, when you do decide to make goals for yourself, keep a few things in mind. Great achievements require time. The higher the success and achievement, the more effort and time it will take.
Not being patient is one of the core reasons why people have the shiny object syndrome in the first place. Everybody wants the “get rich fast” pill, but so little people are willing to be patient about it. So, when you write your goals down on a piece of paper, make sure you are realistic about how much time you are giving yourself. If you make unrealistic goals with unrealistic time frames, then you will find yourself discouraged when you fail to accomplish them. In this case, goal setting will be a disservice to yourself.
Get rid of external distractors
One other huge reason why the shiny object syndrome has become such an issue today is because we are constantly bombarded with new offers that promise to make us rich, happy and successful. Marketing technologies today work in such a way that we are shown products and services we are looking for, when we need them and through the platforms that we use most. This includes social medias and email marketing.
One thing you can do right at this moment is to unsubscribe from all of the email lists that are constantly promoting you their products. Also, leave all Facebook groups that tempt you to participate in discussions that you don’t need at the moment. The fewer distractions, the better.
These actions on their own will already have an amazing effect on your productivity. Trust me, I say this from experience. But also make sure to watch out how much your friends are influencing you. Remember, you have now set goals that you will stick to accomplishing.
One last thing to remember is not to forget to celebrate your success.
The shiny object syndrome can be our problem because we fail to see that little achievements are also achievements. We leave them unnoticed, and therefore it may look like as if we are not having any progress. This is especially the case when you compare yourself with professionals and other people that have been doing the things you are doing for a lot longer than you. Keep in mind that everyone was once a beginner. Everyone had to start somewhere. Every step counts, even the smallest one.
But now that you have short-term and long-term goals set in place, you must remember to celebrate when you accomplish them. This will be a way for you to remind yourself that you are in fact moving on and are on the right track. And it’s also a great way to take a break every once in a while. Something that so many entrepreneurs forget to do.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. As always, feel free to leave your ideas below. I would love to hear your story.
Thank you for stopping by and good luck!