Although not diagnosable by a doctor, shiny object syndrome is more or less a disease of distraction and it’s known to affect solopreneurs and the businesses they run in droves.
In most cases, the entrepreneurial spirit is lucrative and enviable. We aren’t afraid to explore uncharted territory, take risks, and learn new things. But that’s just it – we LOVE new things. Shiny new things.
That’s where shiny object syndrome comes in. Solopreneurs are super susceptible to SOS because we’re naturally drawn to what’s new and exciting, especially when we have the inclination that a life-changing idea is on the horizon.
Shiny object syndrome is the pattern of behavior that resembles a small child chasing the nearest shiny object – only to lose interest five seconds later when another shiny object comes into their line of vision.
In relationship to entrepreneurial endeavors, the shiny object might be a new PR strategy, new clients in a new neighborhood, or the latest piece of technology or equipment.
Sound familiar? Don’t fret – it’s in your nature. However, there are some ways to know if your SOS has gotten out of hand.
If you’re beginning to notice that the projects you started in January have been abandoned by the spring, it could be a sign that your SOS is taking the reins. Keep a log of all the projects you start and investments you make. It’s normal for some “failures” to occur, but it’s a different story if you notice you’re jumping the gun before project completion.
If your projects start strong but inevitably taper off, this could be another sign of SOS gone too far. That’s the thing with shiny object syndrome. You find something new and dive straight in. Once the novelty wears off, however, you tend to lack follow-through. So, if you can see that your starting point is always stronger than your finish, it could be time to reevaluate.
When your business account starts to feel the pain of your SOS, that’s when you know it’s time to get things in check. Splurging on the latest tech as soon as it’s released or switching from business tool to business tool, it’ll cost you. Something that could’ve been cost-effective is now burning a hole in your pocket. This is a major sign of SOS in action.
If you find it difficult to block out the voice of Ross yelling at you to “pivot” in your head, this could be a symptom of SOS. Changing direction too often is something to definitely look out for. Always switching services, niche markets, or simply moving on to the “next” thing should be cause for concern. In other words, ignore the Ross in your head.
Ok, we’ll admit it. SOS is rampant in the boss babe community – so how do we overcome distractions and build better businesses as solopreneurs? The best defense against shiny object syndrome is evaluation, goal-setting, and patience. Let’s explain.
Basically, we’re working to avoid “jumping the gun.” If you have a brilliant idea and you’re ready to change everything and implement the idea immediately, that should be your signal to stop what you’re doing.
Sit on it for an hour, a day, a week – depending on the size of the investment. For some reason, there’s a fear of “if you’re not first you’re last” and while sometimes this phrase rings true, it’s not worth an extreme case of SOS.
Do a thorough evaluation of any changes you want to make before you make them. Getting used to sitting on your decisions instead of doing anything rash will start to come more naturally the more you practice.
We all know that goal-setting is an important factor in staying focused and completing the task at hand. The trouble is that entrepreneurs suffering from SOS often have lots of short-term goals, but far fewer long-term goals.
Setting both short- and long-term goals helps ensure that you’re slowing down and reminding yourself of why you made your initial choices in the first place. When you get the urge to grab that shiny new object, it’s a good idea to look at your long-term goals and make sure it’s come to fruition.
Instead of changing everything on a whim, consider what can be improved upon or updated within the current plan. There are only a few reasons why doing a complete overhaul is necessary, like if your budget is way out of whack.
Otherwise, it’s likely that minor adjustments can solve the problem and help to fine-tune your short-term goals. In short, don’t jump ship until it’s absolutely necessary.
As you can see, a few simple mindset shifts can do wonders for curing your shiny object syndrome. Tapping into your entrepreneurial spirit in a more mindful way will help you decipher which ideas are truly game-changers and which are distractions.
Knowing the difference is what separates the focused from the frivolous. Which are you?