My name is Sam, and I have shiny object syndrome. A lot of entrepreneurs and people, in general, find themselves with shiny object syndrome. They might be chugging along, working on growing their business when suddenly, inspiration strikes and they drop everything they’re doing to explore and start a new and exciting idea. That can be a huge problem for entrepreneurs because it often means you’re abandoning half completed projects in order to completely focus on one half-baked idea.
I am the first to admit that I suffer from shiny object syndrome. I’m interested in many different things, I love learning, and nothing excites me more than building something. In my full-time job, I’ve been lucky enough to build a career that allows me to do more project-based work which gives me new challenges throughout the year. But in my side hustle, it can seriously hinder my ability to complete projects and grow my businesses.
So how can you avoid the trap of shiny object syndrome in your business?
Write it down and save it for later. When you have a great idea, there’s no reason you can never pursue it just because you have other projects. I like to keep a “pie in the sky” list where I jot down all of the random business ideas I have. That way, when I finish a project or I’m realistically ready to take on something new, I can refer back to the list and decide if it’s still a good idea. A pie in the sky list isn’t just for new business ideas either, if you have some great projects you want to work on in your current business, but you don’t have the time to execute them, keep a list and refer back to it during slow periods. Shiny object syndrome can come in many different forms, not just for new business ideas.
Vet the idea. Just because an idea seems amazing the moment you think of it does not mean it’s worth pursuing. Even if you have the time and bandwidth to start a new project or business, it doesn’t mean you should. Before you pursue any new idea, you should vet it. Make sure that the idea is realistic, the goal is attainable, and that you actually want to do it. Some ideas are viable and brilliant but if you don’t have the skill set to execute the idea, it might not be the right time to start it. Put it back on your pie in the sky list and save it for later. Other ideas are just duds once you start to consider their logistics. If a new business idea will cost you a lot of money to start but you don’t have any savings and you don’t want to get outside investments, kill it or put it back on your pie in the sky list for another day.
Set realistic goals and tasks for a new business or project. If you are always looking to move on to the next project or launching your next business, you could end up abandoning a project too soon. On the other end of the spectrum, you might be itching to start your next side hustle, but you never know when it makes sense to move on from your current project because you never feel like it’s totally finished or in a good enough place for you to focus on other things. By setting goals for each project or new side hustle, deciding on benchmarks for success, and breaking down those goals and benchmarks into actionable tasks, you can more easily decide when a project isn’t working and it’s time to kill it and move on or decide that a project is mature and successful enough for you to focus your time on something else. Decide from the start what success looks like for that project. You can always adjust the goals along the way but it’s important to start with your goals in mind.
See it through to the end and hold yourself accountable! Once you’ve set goals and benchmarks for a project, don’t quit before you’ve hit them. It can be very tempting to move on to the next and exciting idea, especially if a project isn’t going as well as you hoped. But it’s important to see it through to the end and complete each project. If you continuously move on to the next thing, nothing you start will ever become successful.
I, like many entrepreneurs and side hustlers, have shiny object syndrome. And I love it! I love that I can get really excited about a new idea but I also know that it’s important not to dive right in and leave other projects behind. I know that I need to finish other projects I’m already working on before starting on a new business or project. Although I try not to give in to my impulsive desires when it comes to my business, I’m thankful that I can get so excited at the prospect of something new.
Do you have shiny object syndrome?