How to Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome & Stick To Your Plan

Us entrepreneurs – we are idea-generating machines.

We see opportunities everywhere. We discover new solutions to old problems. On a daily basis we’re inspired to create something new that could change the world.

Our biggest strength is can also be our biggest weakness. Those new ideas all too easily become shiny objects that hold us back from gaining the momentum we need to build a profitable, sustainable business.

“Shiny Object Syndrome = the source of almost ALL overwhelm entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. So how do we combat Shiny Object Syndrome without losing that entrepreneurial spark? By saying ‘NO’.

People think focus is about saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.” – Steve Jobs

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet

“What you don’t do determines what you can do.” – Tim Ferris

But saying ‘NO’ isn’t always easy.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Shiny pennies are good. Shiny objects are not. Know the difference.” quote=”Shiny pennies are good. Shiny objects are not. Know the difference.” theme=”style2″]

How can you start saying NO to shiny object syndrome and YES to more focus?

1: Keep An Idea Parking Lot

Early in my consulting career, I did a lot of strategic planning retreats for executive teams. The goal? Map out their strategic focus for the next 5 years in their business over 2 days.

The first day of a strategic planning retreat is always the most fun; it’s all big picture dreaming and brainstorming innovative new ideas. Each idea gets a single post-it note.

When you wrap up the first day, it’s exciting to see all the possibilities and overwhelming to see how much work is ahead. The second day is all about saying NO.

Cutting out that shiny object syndrome. Dozens of big goals are narrowed down to 3-5 focuses (aka the BIG ROCKS) for the next 1, 3, and 5 years.

Post-it notes are crumpled up and tossed in the trash as ideas are discussed and prioritized. We only keep the ones in alignment with the strategic direction of our business.

But some ideas are too good to throw away… and they just don’t fit in with the agreed 3-5 focuses right now. What do you do?

We put those ideas in an idea parking lot.

An idea parking lot is simply a place to stick those great ideas for safekeeping until it’s the right time to bring them to the forefront in your business. It could be as simple as a Google Doc, an Evernote file, or a notebook you carry to capture inspired ideas throughout the day.

The best part about an idea parking lot? You get to keep all those great ideas, add to them when you’re inspired, and when you’re ready it’s right there at your fingertips.

Ask Yourself: Where are you creating your idea parking lot?

2: Choose Your Top 3 Big Rocks

The most challenging part of staying focused is choosing your top priorities {aka Big Rocks} and then saying NO to everything else.

This is the secret to giving 100% of your time, energy, and resources to the priorities that really matter. And it can help you avoid shiny object syndrome before it starts!

When you start to study people who are the prolific writers, creators, artists of our time, you start to see that they are incredibly focused on the essential few priorities instead of the many trivial distractions. They develop habits that support their creativity.

They schedule blocks of time in their calendars to do their work. And most importantly – they turn OFF the distractions (including email notifications, Facebook messages, and cell phones).

This is the opposite of how most of us approach achieving our big goals! Most of us have amazing ideas we’d like to pursue, but months and years go by without actually bringing that idea to life.

If you haven’t checked out my demonstration about the Big Rocks strategy, check it out right here.

Bottom Line: You can’t wait to ‘find’ the time. You’ve got to MAKE the time if you are serious about accomplishing your goals!

Ask Yourself: What is a big picture project you want to focus on for the next 90 days? Have you made time in your calendar to bring those ideas to life?

3: Focus on Just In TIME Learning

Raise your hand if you are a lifelong student who loves nothing more than reading the latest book, following multiple blogs and podcasts, or taking new trainings and courses! I know I’m not alone here!

All the learning all the time = a recipe for overwhelm and shiny object syndrome.

When you lack a clear focus and purpose in your business strategy, it’s really easy to get caught up in the trap of Just In Case Learning. It happens when your day-to-day actions in your business aren’t based on a strategic plan but instead is based on the latest tip, trick, or tactic posted on Instagram.

It happens when you find yourself buying ebooks that collect dust on your iPad, and courses that sound amazing… but you never get past the first lesson.

Just In Time Learning is the opposite. You focus on learning what you need right now to implement the current focus in your business.

As a course junkie and bookworm, focusing on Just In Time Learning has helped me to narrow in on what I actually spend my time and money consuming! For example – a core focus for this quarter was running Facebook Ads to get traffic to my free webinars and challenges.

So my team and I spent our resources {time and money} learning everything we needed to run a successful Facebook Ads campaign. What we didn’t spend time on? A fun Instagram course, several new books that came out this summer, and dozens of blog posts sitting in a folder.

Ask Yourself: What do you actually need to learn to take action on your top 3 big rocks in your business?

A Challenge for You…

These practices seem so easy, but they are incredibly powerful especially when you hold yourself accountable. It’s really easy to envision that each new idea is the best idea ever. But don’t fall into the time and energy trap of shiny object syndrome.

Challenge yourself to stick to only 3 big ideas for the next 30 days and you’ll see a dramatic change in your productivity!