What “shines” should not be your next project! How Shiny Object Syndrome can harm your success.
3 years ago, I started working with Andrew as his coach. Andrew is a businessman, who has launched many businesses in the past and that was something his is really good at. The thing is that after starting a new business or a project, Andrew would bump into a new great business opportunity he would like to pursuit, which led to neglecting focusing on the next steps and goals he had set for his current business and sooner or later he would decide to give up on it or he would leave his employees taking charge without him being present.
As you might understand, this had many negative consequences for him in professional, personal as well as in financial aspect, too. When he came to find me, he was really determined to change this, as getting out of a difficult personal situation that affected his career too, he wanted to make a fresh start with changing this behavior of jumping from one exciting opportunity or project to another, included, and being able from then on to stay committed on whatever he had set as a goal. You see, it wasn’t only about the goals that weren’t achieved and were abandoned. It was about him feeling for once pride for himself that he was able to finish a project, or staying focused on something till the end, that was the most important reason he wanted to do that.
What was described above is a typical case of what is called the Shiny Object Syndrome and if it sounds familiar to you, because this is how you behave, when it comes to ideas, projects, tasks or even tools you use for your work, then it’s about time you become aware of it and take action, if you want your business or career to thrive.
But what exactly is the Shiny Object Syndrome? It’s the equivalent tendency and habit a businessperson has with the one of a small child chasing after shiny objects. Once they get there and find out what the object is, they instantly lose interest and start chasing the next thing that catching their attention. For businesspeople and professionals, who crave for development and innovation, the shiny objects might be business objectives, marketing strategies, target markets or clients or even other business ventures.
What are some signs that you might act under the Shiny Object Syndrome? Well, be honest with yourself and make a realistic assessment:
- Do you tend to get excited about a new project before the one you’re working on at the moment is complete and you jump in the new one before you can see any meaningful results?
- Do you get attracted by any new system or tool that comes in your way, ending up having bought 10 different things to use on a specific process and then investing in the 11th one, only to repeat the same action soon again?
- Do you start a new project or an idea having just the bigger picture in mind and a blurry one regarding the specific steps or plan to follow?
- Do you drive your team crazy, because you change your mind all the time regarding what project to work, what strategy to follow or what procedures to implement?
If most of your answers are a YES, then here is the process we created with Andrew and he follows successfully each time he’s in front of something that shines bright like a diamond to his eyes and manages to control his impulse. Maybe, it will work perfectly for you too:
Take a moment to think before deciding to launch an idea. Do some more research on it and assess if this is related with the overall vision and objectives of the company you own, or you work for, and it is the best use of your company’s resources. It might be a good idea indeed, but does it fit with where you want to go in the long-run, or even in the short-run? Will it be more effective comparing to the project you’re running at the moment, and you want to abandon/replace, for reaching an objective. Have you given the current one enough time to assess its effectiveness and the outcomes it has brought?
Discuss the idea, project, etc. with your team. Ask them what they think, and listen to their point of views, or even concerns. I know that actually this is something you want to avoid, so that they don’t dishearten you or make you see realistically, instead of acting in favor of your need to satisfy your caprice, but actually this is the purpose! They’ll help you realize when you’re running too fast, and if they do agree with your decision, they’ll be happy that you came to them first and they feel part of the decision.
Don’t stay in the big picture. For every new project or business idea you want to start, create a strategy and an action plan. Set realistic long-term and short-term goals to achieve and also feasible timelines. Most of the times, when you do this process with pencil and paper you realize that something might be unrealistic and most important unnecessary, saving you this way time, money, energy and effort.
I know that you’re probably thinking “Come on, Valentina! The steps you suggest aren’t rocket science.” Yes, there’s not! You know them, but you don’t bother following them, because you give in to your impulse to go after what shines! By consciously going through this process, you give yourself time to think and reflect, instead of reacting instantly and that will make a huge difference to the way you’ll start making decisions.
Of course, practice makes perfect, as they say. So, the more you implement it, the more you’ll be able to tame your Shiny Object Syndrome.