And How to Overcome It
I fired a client recently. I shouldn’t have taken her on in the first place. Looking back, the warning signs were there. I ignored them because I want to help entrepreneurs so much. Plus, I see the good in all people first and push aside the bad. This client suffers from shiny object syndrome. She just couldn’t commit to following a program. I ended things on a good note and explained to her the work she needs to do in order to overcome her issue. But I thought to write this article to help others too.
I know the shiny object syndrome all too well, both in my personal and professional life. I am an idealist, a visionary, a truth seeker, and a recovering perfectionist, living for innovation and discovery. In my private life, I used to be one to follow fad diets and workouts, jumping on every new health trend that surfaced and on a quest of personal development, reading all the self-help books. In my career, I was constantly seeking out better methodologies and hacks to produce more, better, and faster. I would follow one guru one week and a different one the following week. My house was full of books, all on one subject but by different authors with various, often contradictory approaches. My kitchen was full of dietary supplements and powders, all following various health fads. I was a start-and-stop person instead of a get-to-the-finish-line type. I was always seeking out the next best thing, a victim of trends and reviews.
Here are five signs that you have the sickness too:
1/ Spending A Lot of Time Looking At What Others Are Doing
I used to do it too. Hours spent scrolling through social media, drooling over some influencers’ success. Nothing better than to make you feel small. Why does one torture themselves like this? It is a form of self-boycotting and avoidance to take action when you become obsessive about stalking popular influencers. It is almost as if you were living through their success while feeling green with envy, always doubting yourself. Pretty messed up, for sure. As a business owner, there is nothing worse for your morale than watching your competitors too closely.
2/ Investing In Products or Services Based On Emotions
Don’t we all! In fact, this is what marketing is all about. Clever campaigns are doing anything and everything to trigger your fear or desire or both and to create urgency and scarcity, so you jump on an offer. Then you repeat it again and again. You have quite a fine collection after a while, but you still aren’t satisfied. At work, this could mean constantly buying new software that promises to double your team’s productivity. In your private life, this could be any type of consumer product that you fancy.
3/ Not Seeing Things Out Until the End or Giving Them Enough of A Chance
You started something, and now it is just blah. You are already sick of it, even if it is still new. Maybe it is sitting there, collecting virtual dust. It could be your treadmill, online service or product, or other things in your life. At the time of purchase, you wanted it, but you weren’t thinking clearly about your time investment. After you buy it, you need to put in the work to achieve the results. That’s a different story. Buying it was the easy part. Now, instead of implementing the service, you hop over to another product that seems even better than the last one. And so on and so on. Will it ever end? If you find yourself in a ‘start and stop’ pattern, you may be suffering from the shiny object syndrome. This could even apply to frequently changing jobs or relationships.
4/ Always Questioning If You Won’t Find Something (or Someone) Even Better
Once you buy or start something or hire someone or start a relationship, the excitement wears off and you start comparing it or them to others. Of course, you will always discover something even better than what you have because of the grass-is-always-greener phenomenon. That is what you subconsciously are doing when you have shiny object syndrome. Nothing will ever be good enough, and you’ll keep chasing the dangling carrot instead of working towards achieving your goals with one system, person, team, or whatever it is you are focusing on.
5/ Deep Down, Being Terrified of Change (and Failure)
The true reason you might be hopping around instead of committing is this: you are afraid to put in the work. It is comfortable to want something but very scary to start implementing steps towards change. In fact, one can spend their entire life talking about changing yet never actually doing it. It is 100% fear. Change is not easy but even worse is the surrounding fear. After all, we know who we are now, even flawed, but will we know who we are after we change? Subconscious fear can hold you back much more than you may think. Here are the signs you are ready to change.
Here is how I got past the problem of shiny object syndrome, and you can to:
1/ Get Really Clear On What Your Goals Are
It is one thing to have general goals like “I’d like to build a successful business.” or “I want to be able to quit my job.” but this isn’t quite good enough. Go deeper and develop S.M.A.R.T. goals = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Clarity is not easy so you may require time, concentration, and support to uncover what it is that you really want. Goals must also align with your values, and you must have enough self-belief to make them work.
2/ Be Ready to Do Something That Scares You
People naturally shy away from difficult things, but everything in life worth having requires some level of challenge to obtain. Therefore, you must put yourself into a state of readiness to face adversity and some minor sacrifice and discomfort head-on. Fear is definitely not a good enough reason to stop one from success.
3/ Have Faith in Yourself To Achieve Your Goals
Sometimes we lack the belief in ourselves. We want something but for certain reasons, we don’t truly believe we will ever be able to reach those goals. It is not the same thing to want something and to believe we will get it. Finding faith requires getting past self-limiting beliefs instilled upon us by things that happened or how we were treated in our childhood or early adulthood that shaped our self-beliefs forever. It may require reconditioning to find within your heart a new belief that you can, and you will succeed.
4/ Trust in Vetted Professionals for Support, But Don’t Fall for Vanity Metrics or Persuasion Tactics
For every area in life where goal setting is involved, you will find plenty of professionals offering services to consult, coach, or in some cases to do it for you. You don’t have to struggle alone nor should you but getting bad help or jumping from one provider to the other is not good either. Be careful who you hire, don’t get charmed or pressured into quick decisions, and most importantly, look carefully at qualifications.
5/ Be Willing to See Things Through Until The End
When you make a commitment, be very aware of what you are signing on for. Commitments are serious business. We live in a cancel culture today where people opt-out at the slightest discomfort. The divorce rate has never been higher. With the increase of instant gratification through services-on-demand and immediate everything, humans are losing their patience and ability to concentrate. It is a quite alarming trend that we must fight because the good stuff in life requires work and the readiness to do the not-so-fun parts to get to the achievement in the end. Lean into discomfort in order to reap the wins in life.
Life is too short to keep chasing the next best thing. By learning to commit to using and believing in what we have, we will all be much better off. The shiny new object syndrome creates unhappiness, lack of results, and can make you much poorer, both financially and spiritually. Have a little faith and appreciation and learn to stick things out, in good and bad times, with your eye on the ultimate prize in the end.