Shiny Object Syndrome, or SOS (for short), is the never-ending pursuit of something new. A person suffering from SOS always has this urge to find something new and trendy.
They pay undue attention to the notion that something else is more worthy than their current workup.
It is similar to the childhood phenomenon of always rooting for something new, even if your current toy is functionally up to the mark. Hence, it can also be called never finish anything syndrome.
What are its remedies? How to overcome it? Worry not because we have all the guidance you need. But before we dive into the strategies for overcoming this problem, let’s see what it actually is.
Symptoms of Shiny Object Syndrome
Like every ailment, SOS can also be considered a problem. And like every patient, you might not know whether or not you are affected by it.
You can only know about your problem once you are aware of its signs. It can be challenging to know if you are juggling multiple balls or are actually making progress in your life.
But if you have the following symptoms, then never finish anything syndrome can be a problem for you.
1. Constantly Changing the Ways You Do Things
This does not always mean you are seeking new shiny things, but sometimes it means altering how one performs his current chores.
You always try to perfect things, and in the effort to do so, you keep taking different paths to complete the tasks at hand.
Trying new strategies to achieve your goals is not a bad thing. This is a good way to overcome obstacles. But constantly altering how you work muddles your mind.
Our brain is plastic in nature, meaning it adapts to new circumstances, including new and more efficient methods of executing work.
It automatically refines how we perform activities by using the information already stored.
But when you constantly react to every new piece of information and change how you work, it gets confused. And as a result, you don’t receive excellence or mastery over a single skill.
2. Feeling of Lacking Something
Another important symptom one may look for is the feeling of uneasiness all the time. When you are always distracted by something shiny and unable to focus on your previous projects, you feel anxious, trapped, and angry.
Thus, you are never fulfilled with what you have. And even though the “never settle” attitude is championed a lot, jumping from one thing to another can seriously reduce your productivity and efficiency.
It can prevent you from making tangible progress on anything you work on, leading to demotivation and a pessimistic attitude.
3. Having Multiple Unfinished Projects
This is one of the most common and, perhaps, the most obvious symptoms. People suffering from shiny object syndrome have a lot of pending work.
The constant pursuit of jumping from one thing to another like a rabbit leads you to the relentless desire to try new things out. You strive for excellence, but that doesn’t stop you because you have this constant urge to explore.
You constantly feel the need to try new shiny things, and the result is an accumulation of a lot of unfinished work.
Think about it yourself, in the last six months, how many tasks have you completed? How many deadlines have you fulfilled?
If you find yourself having many unfinished tasks, you definitely have a problem. Instead of wasting your time on multiple things, just grab a single path and work on it tirelessly.
4. Lack of Focus
Evaluate yourself. Can you take your plans to completion? Or are you distracted by every new trend around you?
If yes, then you have another symptom of shiny object syndrome. You become so attracted to the new things around you that you can’t focus on the projects in front of you.
Your brain is so involved in the idea of trying something new that your current responsibilities are badly neglected.
In situations like these, you are always craving new ideas and innovations as you get easily bored by your existing work. As a result, you lose focus and are unable to finish tasks.
How Does Shiny Object Syndrome Impact You?
If we narrow it down simply, distraction and lack of focus are the core of bright shiny object syndrome.
They lead you to alter your thinking processes, clouding your judgments and never being settled for a single thing. So, when you are constantly distracted, the following issues can arise and impact you if you fall victim to SOS:
1. Poor Execution of Ideas
A person suffering from shiny object syndrome cannot properly convert his ideas into reality.
You become so distracted by alternative prospects that you move on to new ideas and plans before completing the existing ones.
This is what is called “being in motion” and not in action. This concept means that when jumping from one thing to another, you might feel occupied and like making a change for yourself.
But in reality, you just circle back to point zero. To get things done, you need action. And by action, we mean moving one step forward each time.
So instead of circling around randomly, you move closer to your tasks in a linear fashion.
You are working nights off into a project, and suddenly you feel the need to switch projects without finishing the initial one. What will it lead to? Confusion!
When you haphazardly switch between shiny things, you end up confusing yourself. You end up listening to noise and static around you, often complicating your actions.
3. Burning Time and Resources
Apart from investing your time in different projects, you also have to use precious resources whenever you start from scratch.
And if you keep on switching from one idea to another, you waste much of your valuable resources.
4. Hitting Dead Ends
Starting multiple projects simultaneously or starting new ones before completing the previous ones often leads you to dead ends.
Instead of building momentum and flow in one project, you end up with tiny little waves spread across multiple projects.
Your energy and attention are divided with no particular direction.
Your mind cannot work straight, you can’t execute your existing plans, and you get stuck at a dead end. Thus, you don’t finish anything!
5. Decreased Productivity
When you are trapped in shiny object syndrome, your productivity and efficiency go to nil. Instead of being a master of a single domain, you become a jack of all trades.
This happens because you start your learning process from scratch each time you switch. You might think that you may be accumulating different skills, but that is not true at all.
The reality is that when you waste time chasing new things, you tend to spend more time learning the basics than improving your skills.
This causes you to be less efficient than people who remain focused and specialized on a single thing.
6. Stressing Out Yourself and Your Team
Any dream or task you want to achieve needs to have a definite plan set out. When you suffer from shiny object syndrome, your goals start to change. When this happens, you miss out on doing tangible work for yourself.
Chasing the latest trends makes you and your team distracted from the initial mission you set for.
You’ll start to miss the deadlines and will put unnecessary time into re-planning rather than doing the necessary work.
Learning new things is not bad per se, but running around in random directions harms your and your team’s mental health and productivity.
Overcome Shiny Object Syndrome With These 8 Strategies
Now you know how your productivity is affected, let’s see how to cure shiny object syndrome:
1. Remember Your Goals
To clear your mind of distractions, you constantly need to remind yourself about your already set goals. Remember that you have already made the calculations and made the best choice after carefully considering every possible outcome.
The only thing you have to do now is to tell yourself to stick to them and follow the due course of your plan.
It’s the only way you’ll become less distracted by the shiny things around you and make tangible progress.
2. Realizing How Close You are to the Finish Line.
It’s quite natural for us to lose interest when we stick to a thing for too long. Instead of jumping ship and starting something else from scratch, just realize that you are one step away from getting the breakthroughs.
When you keep in mind how close you are to the finish line, you are less attracted to shiny things and remain consistent with the opportunities already available to you.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable
Another important technique to make smart and efficient decisions is to hold yourself accountable. You may feel like you have a lot of time on your hands and can easily experiment with new ways of doing things.
But instead of going down new rabbit holes, hold yourself accountable by finding accountability partners. This could either be your friends, family or your mentors.
When you have somebody checking on you and your progress, you are less likely to stray away from things that matter.
Discuss, evaluate and execute your plans with the help of people who keep you answerable for your actions. This strategy helps you stop spending weeks, even months, chasing the shiny objects on your radar.
4. Eliminate FOMO
If you have a fear of missing out, then you often feel disconnected from the latest happenings around you. And to alleviate this anxiety, you try to jump from one new idea to the other.
When comparing yourself to others, you feel dissatisfied with your current progress and try to imitate others. And in doing so, you become de-tracked from the stuff you are already doing well.
To eliminate this fear, you need to be less attentive to what’s going around you and more attentive to the skills you need to hone to improve current projects better.
Instead of being impressed by what other people are doing or how other businesses are working, just see what works for you and practice gratitude for your efforts.
5. Realize The Cost of Delays
Realizing how delaying your projects will hurt you long-term is necessary to prevent you from becoming a shiny object syndrome victim. It would help if you remembered that every single thing you do affects every other thing you don’t pay time to.
To understand this concept, realize that the time you spend on one project is equivalent to not spending time on other projects.
So when you can only focus on a handful of projects, ignoring or not working on the others harms their progress.
Even though jumping to new things might give you an adrenaline rush, they don’t add any value to your life or work.
By the time you realize this, you have already wasted too much time that could have been utilized to work on your existing plans.
So, clarifying and understanding this cost helps you prioritize important projects first.
6. Make a To-Do List
The best way to avoid shiny objects is to make a comprehensive to-do list for yourself. Make a list of tasks and see how many of them you have cleared and how many are remaining. This strategy helps you set a timeline for measuring your progress and success.
When you keep checking things off your list, you automatically focus on the next in line. This helps you keep focused and not be wavered by the endless noise you receive from the external environment.
7. Adopting the Wait and Watch Policy
Instead of jumping from one thing to another, you should rather wait and see how things pan out over the long run. Using the “wait and watch” policy helps you see whether the bandwagon of opportunity was worth jumping on or not.
With the recent technological advances, it’s not worth your time to chase every shiny object that comes into your vicinity. What might be hyped up right now may come crashing down a few months afterward.
So, instead of losing your focus and leaving the projects half-hearted, learn to be patient and supplement your existing tasks.
8. Saying “No” More Often
Another important mantra for overcoming the shiny object syndrome is the ability to say no. Due to various reasons, you may hesitate when presented with opportunities.
It can either be due to peer pressure or due to a lack of confidence that you may succumb to saying yes to these distractions.
Learn to say no to such options, as these would do more harm than good. To do this, you should always have confidence and self-belief in your current aims and should have the ability to say no to improve your workflow.
9. Stop Comparing Yourself
How often have we seen comparing stuff ruin our happiness? If you want to overcome SOS, you have to learn to be content with what you have. When we try to compare our progress with others, doubts penetrate our minds.
We start to look for unnecessary flaws in our current circumstances and try to run behind new things. Instead, you should be more focused on your own work and should try to reach finesse in your own field of interest.
10. Ditch the Hypergrowth Fallacy
Hypergrowth is a nice idea, but it isn’t always practical. It negatively impacts our energy and output. Social media has tailored us to think the more, the merrier. But this is not the case all the time.
A lot of the time, you may ruin your current prospects in search of new ones thinking that your growth might be hidden in other avenues.
You should remember that growth is slow and steady, and everything takes time. Remaining steadfast and practicing self-care is the best strategy you can adopt.
11. Make a List of Your Successful Projects/Ideas
The best way to remain contended and not be distracted by the things around you is to make a list of all your successful projects and ideas.
When you have visual proof of your achievements and success, It removes any doubts regarding your stagnancy.
You get to know where you stand in your life and if you are moving forward or not. This gives you a sense of satisfaction that is necessary to counter the urge to run toward shiny objects.
Final Words On Dealing With Shiny Object Syndrome:
After reading all this information, I am sure you know what is shiny object syndrome and how it threatens your success.
Rather than running behind new prospects all the time, one should feel satisfied by what is presented to him. Lack of focus, planning, unease, and always changing your way of doing things are some primary symptoms. This doesn’t stop here, as the list is never-ending.
But whenever there is a will, there’s a way. By acting on the strategies described above, you can tackle this without any problem at all.