We all have different goals, dreams or ideas that we want to work on or achieve. While some take required action steps and work on their goals and move forward in achieving them, some may have difficulty in staying focused and stick with them. At times we all get excited about possibilities to do something different and new. Feeling this way is normal, but if you are the one who constantly over-focus on your need for new ideas for the fear of missing out or have a tendency to chase something new always in a desire to achieve whole lot of different things, but never seemingly completing anything, then you are probably experiencing what’s called as shiny object syndrome.
Today’s digital age can cause you to be easily distracted by shiny objects or new ideas that look better, more fun, stimulating or rewarding than your current task, project or goal. Spending much of your time chasing such things only makes you overwhelmed, scattered and unproductive. As a result, you get distracted from your big picture and go off on a tangent instead of remaining focused on your most important goals or tasks.
What is shiny object syndrome?
It is a psychological tendency where people focus all attention on something that is current and trendy, but drop it as soon as something new takes its place. It is when some new idea shines and distracts you from the current path you are pursuing. Such behaviour is similar to child who is attracted to anything that’s shiny and new. Whenever a child approaches some new object, he is intrigued at first, approaches, but loses interest once he gets there and sees what the object is and immediately loses interest and starts chasing the next new thing. A shiny object can be any new idea, latest concept, new target, trend or a project that may seem to be worthy of your attention in the moment and makes you change your direction and take you off course.
Shiny objects can come in many forms like innovative or profitable business concepts, ideas, technologies, tools, business offers, courses, new products that assure successful solutions and so on. You are more susceptible to shiny object syndrome if you are an entrepreneur or working in a creative field or an individual who is over focused on growth or fear missing out on that which is latest or trendy. It is attributed to chasing something new or starting projects based on ideas without properly assessing their feasibility and sustainability.
Negative consequences of chasing shiny objects
Inability to focus on your important goals. You never get things done because you are always on to something new, rather than completing your current goals. When you chase a new goal that seems even better, your current goals might take a back seat and takes your focus away from your priorities or your current goals.
Unfinished projects. If you are highly creative and judge your focus on number of ideas you pursue, you might get excited about the possibility to do something different. But, not thinking through the idea before implementing, you are most likely to run into unforeseen hurdles that you may be unprepared to overcome and leave them unfinished or incomplete.
Wastage of resources. When you go for ideas or strategies that seem interesting, even though there is a possibility of achieving better outcomes which might be so in very few situations. But quite often jumping too quickly into new ideas or chasing shiny objects might cost you more time, money, more effort and cost you other valuable resources like employee potential or opportunities.
Demotivating and affects productivity negatively. If you are leading a team and pursuing new goals often, people lose the momentum and enthusiasm with which they started to work. This wastes their time, demotivates and lowers their productivity. They lack direction and lowers their morale.
Leads to overwhelm, stress and confusion. Racing behind shiny objects can cause stress and overwhelm as you constantly experience fear of missing out. Frustration makes you feel like that you can’t keep with those around you thereby clouding your judgment and focus.
Poor decision-making and planning. Shiny object syndrome lowers the ability to make quick and effective decisions because too many ideas clutter your mind. Frequent changes lead to poor planning and execution.
How to overcome shiny object syndrome and regain your focus
There is no harm in keeping yourself or your business updated, being competent or being interested in new technologies, ideas or products. But however, when it becomes always about the next thing and if you are prone to chasing new things constantly and never settling with one option, it leads to several negative consequences. Here are some ways to —- by avoiding shiny object syndrome.
- Set clear short and long-term goals: When you don’t have the clarity of what is that you are after, you can easily be distracted by shiny ideas that you tend to come across as your attention and focus is split among different goals at the same time. So, the first step is to set clear and manageable goals. Get clear on exactly what you want to create and what results you want to achieve. Set long-term goals for every project, including how long you anticipate the project will last and back it up with clear action plan to achieve the result. Similarly create short-term measurable goals that align with your long-term vision.
- Become more accountable. One of the best way to get out of overwhelm from wanting to chase multiple projects and shiny ideas is to get more accountable and stay focused on your short and long-term measurable goals. If you go with the flow without knowing the outcome you intend to achieve, a new idea might sway you in wrong direction. Hold yourself accountable for the work and effort you need to put in. It is tough to make a commitment if your goals are vague, indefinite or with no timeline. By setting smart goals and rewards for attaining them, you can remain committed and not give into a random new idea that flashes by.
- Have well formed outcomes. Goal-setting is not one-time thing that you do, but is an ongoing process that is constantly evolving. When you pursue a goal without a plan, you lose motivation and enthusiasm to keep going. Once you set your goals, don’t abandon them midway just because you come across some obstacles or roadblocks. Walking away from your half finished projects not only waste your resources but also lower your confidence when it comes to taking on your next. So, gain clarity on what your outcome will look like.
- Research on your ideas. Even when certain ideas appear lucrative, they may not be what they seem like. There are constantly new startups, new software, new courses or new technology, products or services. Understand that not everything that is new is better. Taking the time to research on shiny objects that are attracting you can save days and weeks of wasted resources like time, energy and money. Ask yourself, What’s the purpose ? How does this tool or idea or trend align with my purpose? What value is it going to add ? Keep the object if it is in line with your purpose otherwise walk away from it.
- Evaluate pros and cons. Evaluate the shiny object from all angles. How you pursue an opportunity mostly depends on your risk appetite. If you are risk-averse, you will find reasons not to pursue, but if you are not, you might jump into. When you feel the need to jump in and follow what others are doing, see past the hype and evaluate pros and cons. For instance, if it is a business concept, check its feasibility, sustainability, or required resources.
- Adopt ‘wait and see’ approach. Differentiate between shiny objects and real opportunities, priorities and passions. A new idea might lead you to make impulsive or hasty decisions. Take time before you take action on your new idea. Learning to wait out on the idea can help you diffuse the initial excitement. When you wait on the idea for a while, you think with a rational mind and see things from a new perspective.
- Avoid the comparison trap. As social beings, we always have a habit of comparing ourselves to others which can be one of the reason for giving into shiny objects because we measure our success by what someone else does or doesn’t. When you feel the need to jump in and follow what others are doing just because it’s the latest trend, it might not always be sustainable and what’s good for others may boot be good for you. Having clear set of priorities and goals, gaining awareness of your skills, abilities and strengths helps you avoid comparing.
So, How often do you fall prey to shiny object syndrome?
Are you always chasing bright shiny objects rather than focusing on your current goals?
Why do you feel the need to chase your new goals? Or What drives you to pursue or chase a new idea, is it because it is a trend or latest concept or is it because it aligns with your purpose
How often do you evaluate new concepts, strategies or ideas —pros and cons?
How much time do you invest in researching the feasibility and sustainability of shiny new business concepts or strategies that attract your attention?
Do you always stick with your goals and see through their completion ?
Do you switch to new ideas frequently?
Are you willing to adopt to wait and see approach on your next big idea?
How consistent are you in your efforts to bring your new idea into fruition?
Shiny object syndrome is more about how you approach and pursue your goals. Of course there is no harm in keeping yourself up to date with latest, but however all you ever do is try out every new tool, technology or app or product, you waste time chasing trends rather than achieving your goals or getting things done. If you are the one who gets easily distracted by the shiny ideas or concepts, follow the above strategies to overcome your habit. Being aware that you have these tendencies, you can work towards correcting them and compensate for such behaviours.