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3 Tips for Focusing Your Way Out of Shiny Object Syndrome

June 29, 2018



Living in the age of technology affords us with so many luxuries, including instant knowledge at our fingertips and immediate connection with almost anyone on the planet. It sounds like the perfect situation for a business owner who wants to market his/her business, but the downside of living in the age of technology is distraction.


Technology is responsible for so many of the distractions that penetrate an otherwise productive day. It has created a “disease” known as Shiny Object Syndrome, or SOS. It splits your attention on a variety of things that may or may not be serving you and your business. Shiny Object Syndrome plagues many of the clients we work with because the raw truth is, successful business owners tend to be highly motivated and crave new technology and creating new things. This is why they’re in business! They had an idea, started pursuing it, and made it happen. The downside to this way of functioning all the time is that there is a tendency to see something shiny, go after it, and then quickly lose interest. All of this comes at a cost including lost time, poor decisions around money, and low morale.   


This behavior is particularly destructive when it comes to marketing, and I’ll tell you from experience that I’ve been caught in the same SOS trap myself. Marketing is a discipline that has blossomed right alongside the age of technology. With so many newfangled ways to connect with your prospects using technology, and many paths to get there, it’s easy to get the urge to try this thing or that. I’ve even gotten to the point where I’ve panicked . . . afraid that I’m not doing this or that for my clients or that I haven’t ventured into the latest and greatest shiny new thing on their behalf.


What I’ve come to learn is that succumbing to SOS can quickly, and detrimentally, derail your strategy. And, without following a solid strategy, your revenue is sure to suffer. For example, if you invest in a social media strategy for a couple of months and then switch to a different strategy altogether, you’ll never get to reap the long-term benefits or your initial strategy. You’ve wasted time and money, and you’ll never get either one back. SOS is the antithesis of focus. It makes business owners look and feel scattered – not only to themselves, but to their team, and to the very prospects they’re trying to attract.


Saying No to SOS


There are some simple things every business owner can do to keep from yielding to SOS. Here are my top 3 tips:

  • Have a Written Plan. You probably knew I was going to lead with this, because this is the drum we beat with our marketing and coaching clients regularly. Without a plan, there is no path. Without a path, you’re bound to get lost or off-track, or worse, eaten alive by the predators that lurk in the technology jungle. Your plan should include your main vision (your “why”), your mission (how you what you want to achieve your why) and 2 or 3 objectives for what you will FOCUS on. These are the things that drive each decision you make, every day.


  • Establish Your 90-Day Goals. This is a process taught in such programs as The 12 Week Year and Traction (two of my favorite resources for growing businesses). It’s less tempting to go off on a tangent if you’re clear about your intentions for the next 90 days. Your 90-day goals are written out, and they line up with the objectives on your written plan. Our clients’ 90-day goals are written out on a one-page Excel worksheet. They’re easy to see, and it’s easy to draw a line from vision-to-mission-to-objectives. I write my own out 90-day goals out on a 12” x 18” white board that is hung just outside my peripheral vision by my desk. I look at it weekly and use it as my guide when something fancy gets my attention. I also use it to check off the tactics as I complete them towards my objectives.


  • Evaluate the Fit. Shiny things will come to you regularly. Your job is to determine the fit of that object against your 90-day goals. Will it advance your goals or take you into an entirely different direction? If it’ll help you achieve your goals, add it to your “toolkit of possibilities.” These are things you’ll consider, but will sit on it before going all in. Do some more research and determine whether it’s the best use of your resources. Give yourself a timetable and if it doesn’t fit today, put it in a “parking lot” to revisit in your next 90-day goal iteration. If that shiny thing could take you into an entirely different direction than your 90-day goals, and doesn’t fit, you’ll recognize its evil head immediately and move on.  

Smart business leaders understand that while there are many things they CAN do, choosing to do the right thing can make all the difference in achieving business success. Getting crystal clear about your strategy, understanding your objectives, and working towards those objectives every day can help you reduce the impact of Shiny Object Syndrome in your business and your life!

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