Shiny Object Syndrome is a buzzkill.
One day you’ve got a great new app idea that’s going to change your industry forever. (“Payphone Finder! It’ll change the world!”)
The next? You’re thinking you should start an agency and do one-on-one client work.
And then a week later you’re watching a documentary about Amazon resellers, and thinking it’s not that hard, you start researching how to start a drop-shipping business.
Don’t feel stupid – this is a more common problem than a lot of people think.
Thanks to the Internet, there now exists an infinite number of ways to make money.
The problem? Is that there now exists an infinite number of ways to make money.
Which business will be most profitable? Most fulfilling? Easiest to launch? Are you wasting your time on something that’s not going anywhere when you should just jump on board the latest trend instead? What if you’re passing up a big opportunity?
Almost all entrepreneurs are afflicted by Shiny Object Syndrome at some point. The ones who succeed are the ones who fight their way through it and find the One Thing that gets them out of bed every morning.
So how can you find your One Thing? Or how can you fall back in love with it if things are starting to feel stale? If you’re not sure whether your new idea is the next iPhone or just the next Zune, using these simple tests will help you determine whether or not your pet project is worth becoming something more.
Set New Ideas Aside for a Few Days
A lot of the time, the passion you feel for a new idea might just be a momentary excitement. Creativity, after all, is an exciting process, and there are lots of awful ideas that most likely felt really cool at first.
(We’re looking at you, Snuggies For Dogs.)
Alexander Pope wrote in 1711 that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” and nowhere is this proverb truer than in entrepreneurial pursuits.
Ideas are like children – some of them are good, most of them are horrible, and we love ours more than anyone else’s.
The creative process is one that ends up marinating you in a diverse cocktail of neurochemicals and hormones. Dopamine, serotonin, anandamide, and endorphins are all “feel-good” chemicals that your brain releases when you’re in the creative process. They all play important roles in creativity, but they also have the side effect of creating an emotional attachment to your new ideas.
When you’re all hopped up on these endogenous goofballs, it’s hard to take an objective look at your own ideas. That’s why setting ideas aside for a few days is so vital for people with Shiny Object Syndrome – it’ll help you approach your ideas with a more rational eye.
Run Your Ideas Down Fury Road
The problem with Shiny Object Syndrome is that all of your ideas seem equally good. That’s why it’s impossible to just pick one. But there’s an easy way to fix that:
Business Idea Thunderdome.
(It worked for Mad Max. Kinda-sorta.)
The premise is simple: Two ideas enter, one idea leaves.
Write down all of your ideas on a sheet of paper and number them. Then, starting with the top two ideas, ask yourself which of the two you’d rather do. Then compare the winning idea to the next idea down the list, and so on and so forth, until only one idea remains.
Once you’ve weeded out all of the ideas you’re just not that interested in, or that aren’t a good fit for you, or that don’t offer much in the way of payoff, you’ll only be left with the absolute best idea to pursue.
(Feel free to call this idea The Nightrider, The Chosen One, The Mighty Hand of Vengeance, set to strike down the unroadworthy. Ya know, if that’s your thing.)
If All Else Fails, Listen to Your Heart
Ok, so maybe, just like one particular Swedish 80s pop-rock duo, you’ve built a love, but that love falls apart, and your little piece of heaven turns too dark.
If that’s the case, then it’s time to make like Roxette and Listen To Your Heart. Especially if there’s nothing else you can do.
Here’s the problem with having a whole world of knowledge at your fingertips: It’s very easy for your brain to get overcrowded with all the great things that other people are doing.
Theodore Roosevelt once said that comparison is the thief of joy. And in business, it’s also the thief of time, money, energy, and success.
If your Shiny Object Syndrome manifests a comorbid case of Comparison-itis, then it’s time to put some blinders on, start building some self-awareness, and ask yourself what the heck you actually WANT out of your business.
This is when mindfulness exercises come in very handy. Using a mindfulness exercise or an app like Headspace, calm your mind, silence the noise, and start digging down to what it is you want.
Not what you should do, not what everyone else is doing, not what looks like the best opportunity right now – what you want.
Pretty soon, the answer should become clear.
Shiny Object Syndrome is a disease for which there may be no cure. But with the right strategy, you can take back control over your ideas, focus on what really matters, and start making progress on viable ideas in a fulfilling way.