Squirrel! or Another Shiny Object

Squirrel! or

Squirrel! or Another Shiny Object

If you’ve ever seen the movie UP, you’re familiar with the dog with Attention Deficit Disorder. The puppy would be in the middle of something and a furry little critter would pop up. The dog immediately yells, squirrel!, and is distracted from his primary task.

I don’t have ADD…well at least not diagnosed but there are times I act just like that dog. I’ll be in the middle of something then…SQUIRREL!

I have to admit it—I love to chase shiny objects. If you like to chase shiny objects then you know what I mean. I’m the guy the online gurus are after, and you probably are too.

Symptoms of a Squirrel Chaser

It’s easy to tell you’re a shiny object (or squirrel) chaser here are a couple of symptoms:

  1. You  have stacks and stacks of books in your home you haven’t read. The good news is Nassim Nicholas Taaleb, author of The Black Swan says having unread books may be the sign of an inquiring mind, not ADD.
  2. You have long wish list of books on Amazon.
  3. You have several “How to” programs you haven’t quite got around to completing.
  4. You’ve taken out a small loan or run up credit cards to go to a conference or purchase a program.

I have to admit; I have done or am currently guilty of at least one or more of the above “symptoms.”

What’s the Harm?

Good question! What harm is it to chase shiny objects? I’m pretty sure you’ll agree the only real problem is the inability to focus on the task at hand. As an entrepreneur we’re in the process of building a business so the time we spend MUST be spent…wisely.

The biggest problem with chasing shiny objects is what I call failure to launch. Failure to launch is closely related to the paralysis of analysis. If we spend all our time analyzing or gathering information we never get started.

Failure to Launch

Here’s an example of shiny object syndrome and failure to launch—one I’m not too proud of:

I wrote a novel over ten years ago. Over 60,000 words from my brain to computer to paper and I have yet to get it published…why? The reason I give most people when they ask is…partly true. I tell people I’m trying to decide whether to publish the book traditionally or self-publish.

When I first wrote the book, online publishing was just in its infancy. If one was interested in self-publishing it could cost thousands of dollars and that didn’t cover marketing costs.

Traditional publishing, on the other hand took time, was fraught with rejection and to be perfectly honest since it was my first effort I was/am somewhat afraid of how the book would be received by professional editors (what author isn’t).

What are my shiny objects for this endeavor? You should see my bookshelves. I have all kind of books from how to write this, to how to write that. Sadly, most of these books are collecting dust. I’ve glanced through them and really haven’t found the time to apply myself to completing them.

So, I continuously edit my novel, read a book now and then and go another year without publishing.

Is There Any Hope of a Cure for Shiny Object Syndrome?

I think there is hope for my shiny object syndrome. I’ve already made a major step toward my failure to launch with my novel. The marketing plan I’ve instituted forces me to finish the book by announcing the soon-to-be-published book on my website. Now my feet are to the fire and I’ve GOT to finish.

The same goes for a website I’ve been working on the past couple of weeks for my wife. I’m launching it as a minimum viable product and thereby forcing myself to FOCUS on what’s important at this moment.

Does this sound familiar? It should. What I’m doing is putting a date on a dream. In some circles putting a date on a dream makes the dream turn into a goal. Not only is it a goal, it’s also a stated goal that’s put out there for all the world to see.

It’s a bit like trying to lose weight. If you want to lose a few pounds or get in shape one of the keys is to tell someone and have them help you hold your feet to that fire.

Yes, there is hope for the shiny object chaser. Set a goal, by putting a date on it and sharing that goal with someone.

We’ll see how well it works. My book, Crossroad In Time, will debut on 1 Oct 2015. Make sure you hold my feet to the fire.

Here’s to your success!

Keith is the resident writer and troublemaker at Empowered Pros.
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