Warning: Bright shiny objects ahead!

Most entrepreneurs are creative and curious, and those are admirable, useful qualities.  Unfortunately, too much of anything is toxic.  This means that, if you take those qualities to an extreme, you’ll be poised to fall prey to Shiny Object Syndrome.  While magpies and other crows are attracted to physical shiny things, human entrepreneurs have a much broader definition of “shiny object”.

You know exactly what I’m talking about, too, don’t you?  You get interested in a great new tool mentioned in one of your favorite blogs, or you follow an intriguing link in someone’s tweet, or you scope out the latest StumbleUpon recommendations, or—Danger, Will Robinson!!—you click on a YouTube link.  Before you know it, you’re emerging from a deep hole of fascinating information that may or may not have anything to do with achieving the business goals you’ve said are important to you.

So how can you resist the lure of those shiny information objects?  The following tools will help you get things under control.


Start becoming aware of when you’re succumbing to SOS.

You can’t change any counterproductive behavior until you’re aware of it, so one of the most important things you can do is to start noticing when you’ve allowed yourself to be lured off track by a shiny object.

One surprisingly useful tactic is to post a sticky note somewhere on your laptop screen, asking, “Is what I’m doing right now the activity most likely to help me achieve my goals?”  (Hint: Move the note from one location to another several times a week; otherwise it will become so much a part of the scenery that you’ll fail to notice it—and its message.)


Remove temptations.

While many people find online objects to be the shiniest, physical objects can also be highly distracting.  Rather than require yourself to resist temptation, it’ll be easier if you simply remove the temptation to begin with.  Close all windows on your computer except for the one that you’re using on your current important task.  Clear your desk so papers and other objects that might take you off-task are out of your line of sight.  Consider writing your current activity on a 3″ X 5″ card and posting it where you can’t avoid seeing it; use this as a reminder to stay focused on the task at hand.

Just because it’s fun or interesting, that doesn’t mean it’s important.


Be sure you can justify why you’re considering a new app, workshop, social media platform, or any other potential Shiny Object.

As a lifelong information junkie, I so get the fascination of new information.  After all, you never know when it will come in handy.  Unfortunately, none of us has enough time to delve into all the interesting info so readily available to us these days.  That’s why you owe it to yourself and your business success to be ruthless about requiring that any new activity or information you add to your plate has a very specific role to play in achieving your goals.

Bottom line: If you can’t say how something will improve your business, it doesn’t deserve a space on your plate.


Do the first things first.

Sometimes an activity can be a Shiny Object, and sometimes that same activity can be a legitimate tool for business development.  Which it is typically depends on when you’re doing it.

For example, if your website is only half created, do you really want to spend time researching how Google Adwords work?  Doesn’t it serve you better to wait until you have a fully functional website with good links and updated contact info throughout?  And why would you spend money on a course showing you how to make the most of LinkedIn if you haven’t even signed up for an account yet?

As is so often the case, being intentional about what you do, when you do it, and why you do it, is key to success.


So what have you found to help in not getting sucked into fascinating but ultimately counterproductive activities?  Any additional tools or strategies will be most appreciated by the rest of us who are in an ongoing battle with Shiny Object Syndrome!

This entry was posted in choice, commitment, focus and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Warning: Bright shiny objects ahead!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

— Web design by wizzy wig design Minneapolis MN —