You’ve got plans.
But as you watch the world go on around you, it’s pretty hard not to get caught up in the excitement of what others are up to.
Every day you’re being bombarded with images of how you could be better, and a bajillion-and-one things you are expected to be doing and accomplishing at this point in your business.
My team will tell you that in my day-to-day interactions with other online entrepreneurs and the ladies in my mastermind group, that I come up with (give or take) about a million new ideas a week.
Now, some of these shiny new to-do’s are legit pretty solid ideas…ones that, if done well, could have the potential to massively improve the business!
But hurrying to hop on board with every good idea that pops up on our radar usually means sacrificing the projects already underway!
Jumping from idea to idea means we will never benefit from the long-term fruits of our previous efforts, because we either didn’t finish the project, or didn’t give that strategy the time it needed to actually be effective.
Plus, if we’re always in a mad rush to make the new shiny thing happen NOW, we’re probably going to be skipping over some pretty important steps in the planning phase in favor of heading straight to the doing, robbing ourselves of some of the future benefits of that new idea!
So our S.O.S (Shiny Object Syndrome) ends up costing us our hours, dollars, and most importantly, our progress!
So how do you keep your focus when exciting new ideas threatens to derail what you’ve already worked so hard on?
How do you know which new ideas to embrace, and which ones are just distractions along the way?
A.K.A set some goals and put them in writing.
And get specific!
Along with setting any revenue and audience size related goals, you also want to think long and hard about the way you want to be working in your business, and how you want it to be supporting your life outside of work.
Once you have your goals in mind, you want to keep them somewhere where you will see them!
I personally put mine in two places: my Asana (the software I use to keep track of all the tasks I have to do in my business), and in my calendar at the end of the quarter in which I plan to work on that specific goal.
Which brings me to my next tip for stopping shiny object syndrome!
Long-term yearly goals can easily get gobbled up by the day-to-day BTS tasks of running a business, or by constantly pivoting your business to match every passing trend…
By setting a specific focus for each quarter, you’ll have a no-excuses outline for what it is you need to be working on.
New ideas and distractions that once threatened to derail your goals suddenly won’t seem so important when you have a constant reminder of the marching orders you’ve already given yourself for that month!
Planning your work year in quarters forces you to think through what it will take to actually achieve that yearly goal, and prioritize the steps to getting there.
And by breaking up your goals into smaller achievable parts, it will be easier to spot progress, and you’ll be more likely to stay motivated towards reaching that goal.
When I was first getting started as a web designer, one of the things I struggled with most was knowing what the heck I should be doing each day when I sat down to work.
Not having a plan for my week before I sat down to work was a recipe for getting distracted and pushed and pulled in every direction as new ideas came up.
So what ended up happening?
I’d either get stuck in procrasti-planning mode, where I spent entire days just day-dreaming and “planning” new ideas and projects without taking any actual steps to achieving them…
Or my days and weeks would get frittered away with the small stuff, like“oh, I should probably take 10 minutes to respond to comments on Insta”…only to look up 2 hours later and realized I once again got sucked into the scroll.
Batch-working is a fabulous way to give yourself boundaries for how and when you will work, as well as which new projects you’ll take on based on what you’ve already committed to working on that week.
Ok, now that you’ve got your goals in mind and figured out how you will divide your goals up into smaller achievable parts, it’s time to start looking at which new ideas and projects will serve actually serve those goals!
Not all shiny objects are bad for your business. Sometimes there truly are ideas that come along that are worth disrupting your current workflow for.
So how will you decide which new exciting projects to pursue, and where you should just put your head down and keep on trucking with what you’re working on instead?
Does this new idea support my specific goal for this quarter?
Is this an idea that serves my business in the stage it’s in now?
(ie. in terms of time, resources & tools, do I actually have what I need to implement on this idea well?)
If I don’t have the time or resources, what other projects, commitments or expenses would I need to sacrifice to make room? And when compared to my goals, is this new idea more important than those I’d be cutting? Every hour and dollar I spend working on this new idea is one less hour or dollar I have to devote to what I’m already doing.
Or would this idea better serve me in a later stage of my business when I have more time and resources?
How likely am I to follow through with this idea?
Am I actually excited to work on this? Does it fit with the way I know I like to work in my business? Or is this new shiny object just something I have FOMO about because I see other people testing it out in their business and seemingly having success?
Do I honestly see myself being consistent with this new strategy or project I’m considering? Or would my business be better served by doubling down on the work I’m already doing and giving it the time it needs to see results?
How long will it realistically take me to complete this new idea or project?
Will the outcome and benefit of this new idea match the work and resources involved? Will it quickly out-weight my current efforts? Is starting from square one with this ultimately going to be more beneficial than faithfully seeing my last strategy through?
Are there other areas of my business that would have a greater return on invested time and resources?
Time and time again, I’ve used these exact same questions to instantly cross even the most super attractive shiny objects off my list.
They just weren’t meant for me in that specific stage of my business, or they would distract me from the goals I had already set and worked so hard on for that quarter. Acknowledging this has freed me up mentally and time-wise to focus on what really is going to serve my business and life in that season!
Just like you asked yourself how those shiny new objects measured up when compared to your goals, you also need to ask if they align with your specific audience and niche that you hope to serve with your business.
When a cool new idea pops up, ask yourself…
Has my audience specifically asked me for this?
Or is it something I want to create but that my audience didn’t necessarily communicate having an interest in to me?
Does this new idea feel consistent with my brand?
Would I actually authentically speak about this in my business? Or would it be a stretch based on my current brand and niche to start offering this?
If I had to choose just one type of person I’d want to work with in my business would this idea or project go a long way in attracting that one person?
Or would I be speaking to a more general audience with this move? Potentially watering down my niche?
If you’re not sure how to answer those questions, a great place to start would be to do go through the exercise I share in this post!
Another favorite way to tune into my audience, and which projects and ideas would best serve them is to do subscriber chats and surveys! I share my best tips for surveying your audience in these posts:
Again, not all shiny objects are bad for your biz…
But jumping all over the map trying to hit every target will mean zero actual forward progress.
So when it comes to serving your audience, it’s 100% ok to admit when you aren’t the exact right person for certain jobs!
When I was creating my Square Secrets Business™️ course (the one that teaches you how to build a successful, fully booked-out web design business) I knew I’d be crazy not to include a module on the legal & tax aspect of running a design biz!
But I’m obviously not a lawyer…so I brought in a guest expert who is!
So when a shiny new object comes along that DOES make sense for your business, ask yourself whether you are the right person for delivering on that thing!
And if not…
This could look like:
Accepting guest posts on your blog
Bringing in a guest expert to offer a free training on something your audience would benefit from, but you don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to figure out yourself
Becoming an affiliate for someone else’s awesome product or service that covers that topic perfectly
Building referral partnerships with other professionals who offer services you’ve chosen not to specialize in
See someone doing something in their business that causes you to doubt your own plans?
Take 10 minutes to write down all the things you admire about that person or their business/lifestyle.
If they have something you want, write it down.
Then, compare that list of wants to your long-term goals from step #1.
Has your ‘WHY’ changed because of what you saw that person doing or succeeding at?
Remember, that person’s ‘WHAT’ and ‘HOW’ of getting there is going to look different than yours!
They are a completely different person, with a unique way that they like to work, and more often than not in a completely different stage of business than you are in (and possibly even a different niche and ideal client altogether!)
By taking a moment to realize that their success has no effect on your long-term goals, you can give yourself permission to admire what others are doing without abandoning your own carefully laid plans!