My personal struggle with shiny object syndrome and four simple exercises I use to stay focused

Have you ever heard of shiny object syndrome?  It’s a term I only recently discovered, which is surprising considering I have been suffering from it my entire adult life.

Shiny object syndrome is the curse of the Entrepreneur, it also frequently infects individuals with ADD.  Being an entrepreneur with ADD, I have been thrown off course by the shininess of things on multiple occasions.  It has led me to dip my toes in multiple lakes without ever making it across a single one.  I have explored the waters of a registered hypnotherapist, reiki healer, new media specialist, hairstylist, computer coder, holistic nutritionist, novelist and aspiring fashion designer and have yet not achieved great success with any of the above.  The struggle is real.

The rise of the internet has brought with it so much opportunity, almost any dream has become achievable, and yet so many people seem to be so lost.

I blame all the shiny objects. 

Shiny objects are opportunities that look so bright and shiny you are willing to throw out whatever projects you are already working on to chase them.  They are the get rich quick schemes or the new trends that trigger major FOMO and send us jumping feet first into uncharted waters.   

It’s important to be willing to switch course if the universe is nudging you in a different direction, but if you find yourself switching course on an annual basis you probably have come down with a case of SOS.

Having shiny object syndrome is like deciding to climb a mountain, getting half way up and realizing you’d rather climb that other mountain over there.  You will always be climbing without the satisfaction of reaching the summit.  So exhausting.

So how do we utilize the vast opportunity created by modern technology without getting distracted by shiny objects along the way?  I believe there are some simple adjustments anyone can make to stop the exhausting cycle of SOS.  I’ve used them in my own life with great results and you can too.

Step into your zone of genius

This is the most important place to start.  Not truly knowing what your life mission is, is a sure fire way to get sucked into shiny object syndrome.   Really getting still and focusing in on your purpose is the first and most important step to realising it. 

Some ways to identify your thing is to lean into those things that make you feel amazing.  Maybe you won’t become a tennis pro at 40, but if Tennis makes you feel better than anything else, you could start teaching private lessons or open a tennis shop. 

Your zone of genius is the place you shine.  You are your best self here.  Time moves differently here.  You could stay here forever and be happy.  Once you step into your zone of genius you can better plot a path forward without getting distracted by all the shiny things because you are on your path.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to stick to a diet of food you enjoy than food you hate?   

If you have a few things and just can’t decide on ‘the one’ ask yourself…. all money and glory aside, what is ‘the thing’ you would regret not having gone for at the end of your life.  Be honest with yourself and don’t sell yourself short.  There’s nothing like our own impending mortality to make us realize that not chasing our dreams is actually way crazier than chasing them.

 Learn to still your mind and practice positive self talk

When my mind is not still I can get swept up in the chaos of wanting to achieve a million things simultaneously or wanting to drop everything for something that seems brighter and shiner.  More than once I have found myself with a cluttered mind looking up nursing programs or checking out the prerequisites for law school.  ‘Just get a real job already’ I’ve been prone to tell myself, ‘your odds of having a successful clothing line are slim to none.’ 

But then I get still with my thoughts and I remember being a little girl making clothes for her barbies. I realize how good it makes me feel to create things with my hands.  This sets me back on course and every other shiny little thing falls away. 

Spending time in meditation is vital for those of us with SOS.  Every time those negative thoughts creep into my mind I crush them with a mantra ‘I have a successful clothing company.’ Once you have identified your ultimate goal, create a mantra for yourself that you will repeat when you feel self doubt or are tempted by shiny objects.  The mantra will help reset your focus and will remind the entire universe that you are here on a mission and you are going to achieve it.

Set concrete goals

Goal setting is everything. Writing down goals gives them even more merit.  I find it incredibly helpful to set a five year goal and then back engineer it by writing out what I will need to achieve every year to hit my five year objective.

My goal were set in January for this year. They were to design my collection, pick my fabrics and begin selling pieces so I can receive feedback on fit.  It’s just over the half way mark of the year and I have smashed this goal. 

Having my goal for the year has allowed me to focus more deeply than I usually am able to and has (mostly) kept my SOS at bay.

Write lists

I have become the queen of list writing.  My husband makes fun of me for all the notebooks filled with lists that I leave everywhere. 

I think I might also have shiny notebook syndrome.   

But writing lists truly is the ultimate SOS remedy, especially for anyone struggling with ADD or general cluttered thinking.

I do a very generalized list the first for the month, a more specific list on Sunday nights for the week, and usually jot down at least three things I need to accomplish every day before bed.  When I wake up in the morning I don’t have any time to scheme about shiny objects because there is a list to get through. 

I have been known to overestimate what I can do in a day and underestimate what I can do in a month.  If this is you, don’t worry about it just slide those unfinished tasks over to the next day.  As long as you continue with the process you will be blown away when the month comes to an end and you can assess everything you have been able to accomplish.

If you or someone you know is suffering from SOS I hope you will find this list as helpful as I have.  I know how frustrating the shiny object curse can be. Having dreams is a big part of what makes life beautiful, but achieving those dreams is what makes life worth living.

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