Shiny object syndrome is the insidious trap of constantly seeking out the next best thing, the newest gadget, the latest tool or platform to give us that extra edge in our work. Creators are particularly susceptible to this syndrome because we are wired to explore, discover, and experiment. We live in a culture that prizes innovation and encourages us to constantly push the boundaries of what is possible.
The problem arises when this urge to push forward becomes an obsession with finding the perfect tool or resource that will magically transform our work and make it instantly better. We can become so caught up in acquiring the latest software or gear that we lose sight of what really matters: our vision and our voice as artists. Or we feel overwhelm because we have too many ideas or too many starts and don’t really make progress on anything.
If you find yourself constantly starting new projects and never finishing them, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate your approach.
Acknowledge Your Shiny Object Syndrome
Let’s face it, we all have that little voice in our heads telling us to chase after the next shiny object. Whether it’s the latest tech gadget, a trendy fashion piece, or a new hobby, we can’t help but be drawn towards something that catches our eye.
But instead of fighting it, maybe it’s time to acknowledge and embrace our shiny object syndrome. After all, curiosity and exploration are what lead to creativity and innovation. But understand what your goals and priorities are.
- Is this serving my greater goal?
- Is this an asset or a distraction?
- Can I move forward without this?
If it’s not truly aligned, it’s time to call a spade a spade. Distractions and indulging in that new hobby or shiny gadget are fun to do, but if it’s keeping us from what we really want in life, it may not be an indulgence, but procrastination to doing the hard shit. Awareness is key. You can’t on one hand say you never make any progress, and also spend your time doing anything EXCEPT the thing you need to be doing to move your dreams forward. If this feel like you, it’s time to look at this more closely. Why are you avoiding and what can you do to tackle these fears holding you back.
Prioritize and Focus
In a society that champions multitasking, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of projects and lose sight of what’s truly strategic. Our overloaded schedules often leave us feeling frazzled and unproductive. But what if we flipped the script and prioritized our projects based on their strategic value?
By investing our time and energy into the most valuable tasks, we can optimize our output and maximize our potential.
So take a step back, evaluate your projects with a critical eye, and hone in on the ones that will move the needle forward.
Often people tell me they can’t actually choose. They are actually paralyzed by it. If you’ve made an earnest effort to weigh and prioritize your ideas and you’re still stuck, then at some point you just need to pick one. If they are truly created equal, then there should be no issues just picking one and moving forward. It doesn’t mean you won’t do the others, just not now. Have patience and remember this is a long game.
Set Goals for Each Project & Break Down the Steps to Reach Them
As creatives, we often have tons of ideas swirling in our heads that we want to bring to life. However, without clear goals and a plan to achieve them, those ideas can quickly become overwhelming. That’s why it’s crucial to set goals for each project and then break down the steps to reach them. When we know precisely what we’re working toward and what we need to do to get there, we’re more likely to stay focused and motivated throughout the process.
When setting goals for a project, it’s important to consider your long term vision as well as the short term objectives. Start with a big picture goal and then break it down into smaller, achievable milestones. My book Creative Calling is a perfect guide for this, using the IDEA framework and if you’re looking for a deep dive I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.
Some quick steps are:
- Identify your “why” – understanding why your project is important to you will ensure that your motivation never wavers.
- Set deadlines – setting self-imposed deadlines can help keep us on track and accountable.
- Break down the steps into manageable chunks so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming or intimidating.
By getting clear on our goals and breaking them down into achievable tasks, we can cultivate the focus and discipline we need to stay productive, make tangible progress, and eventually achieve our goals.
So, whether you’re a writer, filmmaker, or photographer, take the time to establish clear goals for your next project and map out the steps to ensure success. Trust me; it’ll be worth it in the end.
Rethink Quality of Quantity
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing quantity over quality. Or doing many things at once, trying to deliver on them all.
But if we stop for a moment and rethink our approach, we might find that the opposite is true. Quality should always be our top priority, regardless of the field we’re in. In fact, when we focus on quality, we often end up producing more than we would have if quantity was our sole goal. It’s time we shifted our mindset and put quality at the forefront of everything we do. Let’s give ourselves the time and space to produce work that truly stands the test of time.
Remember, it’s not about doing more, it’s about doing better.
Instead of seeking out the next shiny object, try setting specific goals and committing to seeing them through to completion. By doing so, you’ll not only improve your productivity and creativity, but also develop a stronger sense of purpose and vision as a creator.
Block Out Distractions and Create a Dedicated Space For Working On Your Projects
Distractions are the bane of productivity, especially when it comes to tackling big projects. But fear not, because with a little bit of effort, you can create a dedicated space that will help you stay focused and crush your goals. Whether it’s a separate room or just a designated corner of your living space, make sure that it’s well-lit and free of any unnecessary clutter. Invest in noise-cancelling headphones if you need to, and utilize tools like apps that block social media notifications while you work. By intentionally creating a space that’s designed for productivity, you’ll be able to maximize your output and achieve your goals faster than ever before.
Celebrate Small Victories Along the Way and Reward Yourself for Accomplishments
In the pursuit of our dreams and goals, it’s easy to get bogged down by the enormity of the task at hand. We tend to focus on the finish line and forget about the journey that takes us there.
It’s important to celebrate the small victories along the way. We’re so bad at this. Myself included. Which is why I try to talk about it so much trying to manifest it into existence.
Whether it’s finishing a chapter of your book, landing a big client, or hitting a personal best at the gym, small achievements are worth celebrating.
The best way I’ve found to amplify the joy of a job well done, and help make it real is share it with team, your community, family and friends. It doesn’t need to be major achievement, but just acknowledging and expressing something you’re proud of keeps us motivated and fuels our confidence to keep pushing forward.
So don’t wait until the end to reward yourself for your accomplishments. Embrace the progress you make each day and celebrate your small victories along the way.
Having an arsenal of ideas is great, but it can also be your downfall if you find yourself getting overly excited and diving into too many of those ideas. Thankfully, there are a few methods to combat this and help you manage your projects in the long-run. Acknowledging your Shiny Object Syndrome is key and making sure you don’t get overeager on all the possibilities. Prioritize what projects will move forward, set goals to work towards, ensure quality over quantity of work produced, create an organized workspace without distractions, and celebrate small victories when it comes to achieving your objectives.
Feeling like you’re never making progress is a huge energy killer and leads to stagnation. If you’ve falling into this trap, it really doesn’t matter what thing you choose. What matters that you choose something and get moving again. Focus on it. Finish it. That is the formula that builds momentum.
This week, I have a challenge for you…..Get something done. Complete a thing. Call it good – ship it.
Until next time.