Avoiding Shiny Object Syndrome: Staying Focused & Minimizing Distractions

Shiny Objects 1I’ve always known that my interests are vast and varied.  Sometimes I even amaze myself in terms of the diverse knowledge that I possess, and my ability to focus on many different things.  But what I’m now beginning to understand is the importance of being focused on fewer things.  Whenever I see something that catches my eye, I tend to jump in with both feed to learn more about it, or get engaged in some way.  However, if I continue this trend, it will prove to be problematic in the future.

Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to eliminate things from the forefront of my mind, and concentrate on the most important things in front of me.  Given my belief in divine intervention, I always look at situations and circumstances as purpose-driven occurrences.  Whether through a new network connection, or through the discovery of an interesting topic, I always feel that these occurrences happen for a reason.  In the past I viewed these occurrences as things I needed to pursue, for one reason or another.  As I’ve gotten older and taken on more responsibilities, I now consider these random occurrences as distractions.  I view their purpose as motivation to hone my ability to focus, essentially teaching me how to resist Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS).

Not to be confused with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), SOS is less of a cognitive disorder, and more of an innate inclination to get distracted by ideas.  I believe a link exists between SOS and the presence of an entrepreneurial mindset.  Entrepreneurs, from the Kirznerian perspective, are considered to be alert individuals that are always scanning their environment for potential opportunities.  Entrepreneurially-alert individuals are constantly evaluating environmental cues, in search of the next business opportunity, and can easily suffer from SOS.  However, you don’t have to be a business owner to have an entrepreneurial mindset, as this perspective can be applied to all aspects of life.  However, the fact that you do think entrepreneurially means that you may be likely to suffer from SOS.

I recently read an article on Addicted to Success that offered some useful tips for overcoming the effects of SOS.  While the article is focused specifically on business ownership, I believe these four tips can be applied by anyone fighting the “shiny object” urge.  Check out the tips below, and let me know what methods you implement to overcome SOS.

  • Step 1: Create a running list of all your ideas
  • Step 2: Pause before you start anything
  • Step 3: View your new ideas through the lens of your long-term goal(s)
  • Step 4: Don’t make crucial business decisions every day

*These tips were originally posted in Addicted for Success*


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