Overcoming the Shiny New Object Syndrome

By Alexis Rodrigo | Entrepreneurship

Aug 03

Anyone who's ever tried to create or promote a business online at one time or another suffers from the Shiny New Object Syndrome. In this article, we'll talk about what that syndrome is, why it's deadly to your success, and how you can overcome it.

But first, here's a brief video for you:

Alright, that video doesn't really have anything to do with the topic. I just wanted to show you how easy it is to get distracted from what we want, need or ought to do.

Signs You Need Help

Here are some signs you're suffering from Shiny New Object Syndrome:

  • You can't work on a task for at least 10 minutes straight without checking your email, Facebook, Twitter or IM notifications.
  • You keep up with the latest product launches by Internet marketing gurus.
  • You buy ebooks, video courses, memberships, plugins, themes and apps and not use them for months — because you bought them before you actually needed them.

Are any of these true for you?

Before you start beating yourself up, rest assured you're not alone. Every other online marketer I've talked to experience one or more of the above. And most of us still have a relapse now and then.

The important thing is to consciously resist the lure of Shiny New Objects.

To get motivated and driven to do so, let's take a look at the…

Bad Consequences of Shiny New Object Syndrome

This syndrome is truly insidious. Before you know it, you'll notice:

  • Overwhelm. You feel unable to catch up with everything you need to have, do or be in order to succeed in your business.
  • Lack of clarity. Your mind is muddled. You're confused about what your next steps should be
  • Low productivity. You're busy every day, but see little results from all the “work” you do
  • High costs. You're spending more than you have to, to make your business profitable
  • Slow success. You're taking longer than necessary to reach your goals, and may never accomplish some of them

Now that you realize how much damage this Syndrome can cause, let's talk about how to overcome it.

How To Overcome — Or At Least Minimize — Shiny New Object Syndrome

I'm pretty sure the Shiny New Object Syndrome has deep psychological roots. However, I'm neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist, so what I have to offer you are practical, everyday stuff you and I can do to control this Syndrome.

Here you go:

  • Make and follow a “training” plan.

Assuming you have your business goals, devise a training plan to go along with it. Identify the skills and experiences you need to accomplish your goals, and put them on a schedule and budget. Follow this plan and only get the programs you need to implement your training plan.

  • Go on an email diet.

Do not read every single email you get. I guarantee, if you read that marketing guru's email, you're gonna buy something! There's always going to be a pre-launch sale, special offer or discount code that's going to be too hard to resist. Unless that offer is relevant to either your business goals or your training plan, don't use it. Just say no.

  • Train yourself to focus on one thing at a time.

I'm one of the few people who didn't appreciate it when Apple made it possible for us to multi-task on our iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. I believe the Internet has made us develop attention deficit disorder (ADD). We need to proactively counteract this! To do so, focus on just one task at a time. Turn off your email, IM, Skype and social networking notifications. Leo Babauta says we do this, because we crave social validation (Hey, someone commented on my update. I'm popular!) Only check email and your social networking accounts at set times of the day. Close your Internet browser's tabs unless you're actively reading them. This can be very hard to do at first. Start slowly, say, 10 minutes at a time, taking 15-minute breaks in between. As Nicole Dean says, your kitchen timer can be your best friend.

By the way, Leo teaches how to train your mind to get more focused in his ebook, Un-Procrastination.

  • Resist the lure of the “free.”

Who doesn't like free stuff? I love 'em, and I tell everyone to use its allure to attract prospects and build leads. Here's what I learned from Alice Seba: nothing is free. At the very least, that free content will take up your time to consume. It can also take hard disk space or a physical space on your bookshelf. Free software will require time, energy and mental bandwidth to learn. Not everything that's free, of course, is to be avoided. If something fits into your training plan (see above), then by all means, get it!

  • Focus on one mentor at a time.

I know, there's plenty of brilliance out there. And the Internet has made it a lot easier for us to discover them, and for them to share their genius with us. However, you don't have all the time in the world to consume their content, digest it, and actually put them into action. And unless you ACT, you won't see results. So devote, say, at least three months with one person you'd really like to learn from. During this time, read only his email, keep up with her blog, and go through his courses. Don't move on to another mentor until you've actually implemented a new strategy you learned from her.

  • Bring a project to profit before moving on.

This is something I learned from the awesome Lynn Terry. Make your current project profitable first, before starting another one. You can pretty much substitute other things for “project,” such as “blog,” “niche,” “product,” or “market” — anything that takes up your time for a prolonged period. Nowadays, it's so easy to put up a new website, you could create one every day or every few hours. But resist that urge. First, make your current site/project/product/etc. profitable. And then you can move on to the next one. Very often, we get excited at the prospect of starting something new, but then we give up before we've made it a success. So we end up with a string of failures and conclude that we'll never succeed at anything, or this business stuff was just a pipe dream.

Share Your Thoughts And Experience

Have you experienced Shiny New Object Syndrome before? How did that affect your productivity and the success of your business? What did you do to minimize or overcome it?

Can you think of other tips that may help others?

Tell us about your experience and add your advice in the comments below. Thank you!

Lexi Rodrigo




About the Author

Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

  • Deidre says:

    I have been going through the “Shiny New Object Syndrome” for a very long time!! it has been so frustrating, that quite frankly it has been interfering with my life-where I cannot focus on a freelancing career for myself-even though I have some of the tools I need to start- I have felt almost “Obsessive Compulsive” about all the things I “should” be doing to feel accomplished or look accomplished to people out there. (Also pressure from society too-but one should be themselves and feel good about what they can be) For example- my blog, my portfolio, my poetry or my short stories!! which ones should I concentrate on? and how do I go about “doing” this?? There are so many writing avenues, and which one should you concentrate on?? I am so glad I found this 31 day course- and this article as well, because honestly I was starting to feel hopeless about writing-the only thing that has kept me persistent is my love of writing, and that somehow I will accomplish… this; I feel that finding this article is God Given- and I look forward to “focusing” on one project, and pursuing Freelance Writing. Thank you

    • Alexis says:

      @deidre – I hear ya! It’s especially hard for multi-passionate people like us to be focused. I wish I had the answers! Just know that you’re not alone, and at the very least, try to minimize other distractions 🙂

    • Dana says:

      Thank you for the information. As I have read other online views on the same I think the details are well reflected on this.It was a good way of spending evening. I’ll visit again to read more on this website and hope to gain more knowledge.

  • Lexi, you must have been looking over my shoulder to have described my recent behavior in your article! Thanks for reminding me that I can’t learn it all at once and to focus on one thing at a time. Your article is so timely. Thank you.

    • Alexis says:

      @Sylvia Tooker – Glad you found the post useful. Please keep me posted on your progress.

  • Kelly says:

    This is on my mind a lot lately. I am planning to take a social media vacation towards the end of this month.

    I took a week off from Facebook last year, it really helped me to break the habit and get back to casual use.

    I’ve never had a problem with buying too many products – first, I couldn’t afford it and now, I’m too busy putting what I already know into action to wonder if I need something else to add to the mix 🙂

    • Alexis says:

      @Kelly – to me, YOU are the queen of focus, and your comment proves that I’m right! Not because you don’t have your own distractions, but because you know when it’s time to do something about it and get serious about your biz. You’re a good model to us all 🙂

  • John Conner says:

    It’s hard to resist the shiny object at first. You want it because you feel it will quickly solve an issue that you have with your website/blog etc. But in the back of the head, you know there aren’t enough hours in the day for you to implement/learn/train etc. However, you buy it anyways thinking you will get to it sooner rather than later. And hey, it’s on sale right now!!!!

    I have done this too. But I stopped by simply following many of the steps outlined above. Spend from cash flow, and think of the project from a long term perspective. Learn slowly but deliberately and most of all, have patience.

    I have a list of new shiny objects i would like to buy still. However, now i have the emails filtered directly in to a folder (SEO/Design/Article writing) so that I can have look at the specific topic when I am ready to devote the time to it.


  • Eric says:

    Great article, again! I loved the “one mentor” tip – I like the idea of focusing on one thing at a time. Over time, I subscribed to 20+ active blogs about various subjects. Now what I think I’ll do is focus on one category per month – TOO BAD IF I MISSED AN ARTICLE! =)

    I’ve been freelancing for 6 months now, and this last month has been really slow. Now the pace is picking up again, and I have a lot of work ahead of me. But I’m realizing that, in my slow time, I developed a serious case of the Shiny New Object Syndrome! Now I can’t control it anymore!

    I find the Pomodoro technique helped a bit, however.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Destin says:

    You got great points there, that’s why I always love your site, it looks like you are an expert in this field. keep up the fantastic work, My friend recommends your site.

  • [redacted] says:

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