Shiny Object Syndrome
Table of Contents
Do you suffer from shiny object syndrome?
Are you easily distracted by “shiny” new ideas?
Are you constantly starting new ideas only to move on to the next one as soon as it gets hard?
Do you only ever make it through 50% of a fitness program, before ditching it for the bigger, better, coolest program out there (only to do the exact same thing 50% of the way through).
Well, chances are you have shiny object syndrome. Don’t worry, it’s not fatal, but it can cause you to run in circles while feeling constantly busy and never quite achieving anything.
Never fear, as a former sufferer, I’ve beaten this incapacitating sickness and I’ve got you covered.
What Is Shiny Object Syndrome?
Shiny Object Syndrome (Objectivius Shinium Syndromus) is defined as the attraction to objects that exhibit a glassy, polished, gleaming or otherwise shiny appearance. Something as simple as a reflection in your peripheral vision may easily distract your attention. Over time, you’ll find that your attention to said object is directly correlated to it’s shininess and your attention fades as the shininess wears off.
How Do I Know If I Suffer?
Here’s a list of characteristics associated with shiny object syndrome. Keep in mind: this is not an exhaustive list, and this isn’t the end all be all, but it is a start.
- You have 100 domain names and no built-out websites.
- You train for 2 or 3 big races a year, but always end up having something else come up at the last minute and don’t do the race.
- You have 20 business ideas on paper, but no businesses.
- You go to hackathons and startup weekends, but you never build a product.
- You work change workout routines every two weeks, because you gotta keep yourself on your toes and there’s no reason to stick a workout regimen for more than 3 weeks…ever.
You constantly start things, but never finish them.
Is this you? Well, you’re not alone, MILLIONS (probably closer to BILLIONS) of people suffer as well. You don’t have to go through this alone.
How Can I Prevent It?
So, you want to prevent SOS? Here’s a step by step guide to avoid and prevent this very real and contagious condition.
Chances are you’re probably already good at this, but it’s important that you need to do this anyways. You can’t stop if you don’t start.
So freaking start already.
Victims who suffer from SOS often find themselves continually “starting” things – doing the easiest possible thing to constitute “starting.”
Unfortunately, too many sufferers of SOS get caught in the starting spiral which looks something like this:
Start –> Start Over –> Start Again –> Keep Starting
Don’t get caught in the starting spiral! Keep going and then you have to do something really, really important.
This is where most people screw up. They don’t mean to really, but often this mistake is made more through neglect than intentionally.
The mistake made is the lack of decision. They never decide what they’re going to do.
This frequently causes indecision, paralysis and uneasiness of the future, since you’ve left it up to chance.
The failure to make a decision is often followed by bouts of procrastination, followed by guilt of said procrastination, followed by even more procrastination.
To cut of the head of this ugly beast, simply watch this video and follow the instructions.
The #1 Productivity Hack In The World
Make a decision. Decide what you want to do, then decide to do whatever it takes to actually do it.
This follows the decision immediately so much so that it’s not always recognized as a separate fact.
The main factor here is action.
Do you follow your decision up with action or not?
You’ll find that as soon as you take action on a goal, you’re committed.
If you decide but never do anything about it, you might as well not have decided to do anything at all (because you’re not really doing anything at all), you’ll find shiny object syndrome will continue to ravage every aspect of your life.
Embrace The Suck
If you’ve miraculously made it this far, guess what?
Things are going to suck. Like really suck. Like make you want to go back to the starting days. You’ll long for the shiny happiness of shiny objects and the happiness it brings.
If people ever make it to this point, this is where they give up…
You know…because it’s hard…and hard things aren’t meant to be done. And you’ve got a really good story on why it’s hard – why it’s impossible.
OF COURSE ITS HARD
If it’s worth doing – it SHOULD be hard. IT’S MANDATORY.
If you quit here, you’ll never really be cured of SOS and you’re doomed to it’s lifelong sentence. However, if you decide to embrace the suck, you’ve got a chance to beat this terrible, terrible disease.
Yup, this again. it’s that important.
Once things suck, it’s not enough to embrace the suck and lean into the pain.
YOU HAVE TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
Make forward progress – no matter how slow. As David Goggins likes to say: Find a door, go through it and keep going.
Push through it all, and keep going.
This is crucial.
FINISH. Work to an end point. Don’t leave something half-way done. FINISH IT OUT.
Now, this doesn’t mean everything is going to be a smashing success, but it does mean you’ll have a finalized product.
- If you’re building a product, get an MVP out the door. Don’t settle for a bunch of a code and a few unfinished web pages. FINISH THE THING.
- If you’re doing a fitness program, finish the 4/6/8/12 weeks it’s prescribed for. Don’t quit half-way through. If you skip a day, or screw up the diet once, don’t let that derail you. FINISH.
- If you’re running a race, get across the finish line. If you just tap out at the 3 mile marker on a half marathon, why even sign up? Run, walk or crawl if you have to, but cross that finish line.
Once you do, you’ll find that the shiny newness of a project doesn’t really compare with seeing it through to the end. Sure, it’s a quick and easy high, but the payoff of doing something for the long haul is not easily beaten. Once you do this, there’s only one thing left to do.
Once you finish your project – really finish it – chances are you’ll repeat some version of this:
“That sucked…but it was totally worth it.”
You might even want to do it again. So go. Do it again. And again. And again. You’ll realize that it’s much more rewarding than the cheap thrills of “starting.”
The real key to beating SOS is continually repeating the process as it’s quite easy to relapse into speculating on small mirrors and other shiny reflective items.
Shiny Object Syndrome
So, you might have shiny object syndrome. It’s okay. It’s not a permanent condition and it’s not fatal, but you do have to treat it.
- Keep Going
- Embrace The Suck
- Keep Going (Again)
Do what you say you’re going to do. Finish what you start. Make it happen. Get after it.
I’m back in Chicago catching up from a busy couple weeks of travel & sxsw. As I’m catching up, we’re allowing for a little bit more time if you still want to submit your 2013 New Years transformation entry.
photo credit: Images by John ‘K’
Dan Holterhaus says
Embracing the suck has always been my tapping out point. One of the best things that I have done when working to this point is to get help. Someone else’s advice or guidance helps me big time to get keep pushing through. Great post!
George Dixon says
I also suffer from TLS – “too late syndrome.” You know, “it’s too late for me.” “It’s too late for this old dog.” “It’s too late to start over.” “It’s too late to make a difference now.”
I’d love to see an article on this tho lot’s of what you’ve written before applies…even this latest which is so good!
Pete D. says
Surely you wrote this for me. Right? Haha.
Sharon Ball says
Yup, I’ve got shiny object syndrome. I start something, then see something else interesting and jump into that, then have to look at something else, pretty soon I have so many windows open that my browser crashes (and 2 hours have passed with 10 new ideas but no real work completed.)
I started reading this but then said, “hmm…this is too long” so I gave up after the first few paragraphs and figured I would come post a comment.
Actually, I have been a chronic SOS sufferer. It happens in waves for me and the only way to I can logically think to break it is to get rid of any form of communication or online information and just isolate myself (no tv, no internet, no phone, etc) until I am completely done with whatever I’m working on.
I’m actually really productive on airplanes, buses and sitting around in airports.
Thanks Joel – this is just what I needed to stop making excuses and tie up my loose ends…or “start” tying them up…lol. I had completed the first 2/3 and the first 1/2 of two Beachbody programs simultaneously last December but I travelled for two weeks and when I got back I never did the last month. Today I started again from the beginning…this time I’ll see it through to the end…thanks for the inspiration.
Embrace the Suck. Better words were probably not written on a website.
Rachel F. says
Great article! I keep telling everyone that I’m convinced I’ve developed adulthood ADD because, for the life of me, I can’t seem to stay focused lately. But, after reading this I think it is because I simply am not deciding and committing. I will often start a new project and then let it fall to the wayside. I need to focus on taking action and completing.
Jim Weston says
It never ceases to amaze me how many people (including myself) fall victim to this! Just in the couple days since reading this article, I’ve caught myself doing it numerous times! Thanks for the motivation.
Rah Alicia says
This article couldn’t have come at a better time. Starting things is the easy part and someone has to remind us to keep going!
Something I learnt from doing runs is that you just focus on the next step and do that, don’t focus on how far you’ve got to go to finish. Lots of little steps gets you there in the end.
That is such a great point to recognize ahead of time, since everything is generally how we react to a problem when it arises. If we know it’s coming and we know it is going to suck and we recognize that as part of the process and proof that we’re getting closer to the end result, that can make all the difference!
Thanks for posting in a very straight forward way. The suck factor is something I’m going to factor into my adventures going forward!
Well to be honest Ive never found a post that describes me as much as this one, every problem i have in my life concerning SOS is listed here,i paid hundreds of dollars on donain names and hosting but have no website, i have tens of business ideas but no business and the rest. I also have TLS syndrome.
Anyways there is still something i have when im about to start something wether its a business or a program or anything, im always worried and concerned if something would happen, i keep asking myself what if this and that happened ,what will i do and this where i start to plan for what if it happened… and it keeps going on and on
SOS is the ultimate problem im suffering right from the day i start to understand things….but i was not clear what’s the problem…this blog has given me a clarification..my aim started as a scientist now as a model..now the thing is to discover where im good at and to grow…thanks for this blog Joel…i wish myself for a great day ahead