Finding Focus: The Cure for Shiny Object Syndrome

When you start your business it's easy to get caught up in the hype and excitement of it all. If you’re anything like me, you signed up for dozens of newsletters, you read blogs on business and you listen to lots (and lots) of podcasts. 

You’ve become a content consumer to the upmost extent. This was me. I got swept up in the rush of ‘I need to buy this course to grow,’ ‘I need to sign up for this,’ and it became a pitfall of consuming and buying which actually distracted me from the daily work of becoming excellent at my craft.

So how can you remain true to your goals without getting distracted by the excitement and whirlwind of "shoulds" and all the shiny things?



Shut out the distractions

This may sound a little harsh, but one of the ways to get things done is to sit down and do the work. Cut out your distractions. This means keeping your main goal in mind and narrowing in on what can help you achieve that.

If you’re focus is to write in your blog consistently, spend time writing - even writing things that are not blog related. Do the things that will hone the skills where you can continue to master your craft. Sometimes Facebook or email or Instagram or Pinterest or whatever favorite platform you have, can be the downfall of a productive 2 hour chunk of time.

If you have sacred time to work on something, don’t check your Facebook, don’t look up a recipe on Pinterest. Keep your browsers to only things that can help you. Put your phone on silent, anything to help you keep your focus narrowed in on the one thing.

A branding specialist and strategist that I love and follow is Bonnie from and in her blog post of “My secret to making 2015 our most profitable year yet” she confesses that she did not launch multiple courses or do anything drastic, she says, “I did one tiny, insignificant thing that yielded big results - I kept my head down and did the work.”

This really caught my attention as someone who is trying to figure this whole online business thing out, because Bonnie honestly didn’t do anything drastic. Nowadays everything seems to be dramatic and overnight: “Grow your email list to 10,000 in 5 days,” or “How my Instagram following grew by 3000 people in 1 week” “Lose 10 pounds in 2 days”... you get the idea.

Everything is over-the-top (not to discredit any of those programs) but the truth of the matter is that there was a lot of time and work put in behind the scenes. 

This is what I have been learning. There is A LOT out there vying for your attention. But if you want to succeed and have a terrific product at the end of the day you have to work at it daily to get to where you can do it more efficiently than anybody else and that will make you money.

And, if you notice, a lot of the really great artists, designers, photographers have been doing what they’re doing for years. Not to discourage or say you can’t do amazing things in a couple months, but I’m saying it will take time and sometimes that’s just how it is to be great at something.


Stand out


There’s this book I love called “Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity” and in the book Hugh MacLeod shares insights that are great for anyone looking to be creative, be original and figure out a creative path. But in the book he says, “don’t try to stand out from the crowd, ignore crowds altogether.” I love this because he’s saying you don't need to be different, you need to be distant. You should separate yourself from the market by being original and doing things a new way.

One way to stand out is to not look around so much at what everyone is doing. 

This point is easier said than done, especially for me because I look to others work for inspiration but it’s hard to not let yourself take on a similar look when you do follow a master closely. But, the truth of the matter is, if you follow people closely in your industry your work will take on a similar look or feel to theirs.

A way to be original is to do something original. This is the key to standing out and being noticed but it also takes determination, questioning your values and focusing in on those things that will make you unique.


Drawing Inspiration


So, the question may be posed, How do you get inspiration if you’re not looking at other people’s work in your industry? Say, if you’re a photographer and you want to stand out how do you not look at other photographer’s work?

I would say, think of things that inspire you creatively and feast on those things. A good magazine, doodling in your sketchpad, or just getting some fresh air outside, all these things can spark new ideas and can lead to a brand new offering, service or product.

And I’m not saying you can’t look at other people’s work in your industry, I’m saying the more you rely on other’s people’s work to inspire you the more your work may emulate theirs and the more you will be just another creative in an already saturated field.

Find your creative voice without relying on others around you, then you will truly find a unique point of view. Your artwork or your creative outlet is your own. You are the one with your gifted area of expertise; highlight that area and make it different than what everyone is seeing out there. Make it your very own.


The problem with following others is that you’ll always be behind.

As Hugh MacLeod says in his book, “put the hours in.” It will take time to get there but you can definitely do it. Whatever “it” may be you can make it different and unique. Find your own way to creativity and you may be the next big thing that rolls around.

Being unique can go both ways, it can be loved or hated but as John Lennon from the Beatles said, “Trying to please everybody is impossible - if you did that, you'd end up in the middle with nobody liking you. You've just got to make the decision about what you think is your best, and do it.”

So take chances and create something unique. Maybe not everyone will like it but it will keep the ones who do raving fans.

Focus on your craft, don't be distracted, and do things your way - even (or especially) if you haven't seen it before.  

Is Shiny Object Syndrome something you struggle with?

How do you get over this problem?