Many of my clients have difficulty moving forward because they switch gears and start working on another project that might be interesting, but do nothing to further their current project. Changing personal paths too often can be dangerous enough, but it becomes even more worrisome with entrepreneurs. The term “Shiny New Object Syndrome” has been coined for this tendency. While anyone can fall prey to the shiny new object syndrome, it almost always rears its head with my clients who have ADHD.
Case in point: I have a client (let’s call him Fred) who has just now started reaching the goals he set for himself several years ago in his business. However, on our call this week he told me that he is completely changing direction. He realizes that while he will have to reeducate clients (and will likely lose some in the process) he feels that this is the only way to go. Now, understand that his business is doing fine. It could use some tweaking here and there but, overall, he has finally reached some of his original goals and is on his way to reaching more. Understandably, I began to wonder what in the world was happening.
Then it hit me.
Every time he approaches reaching goals he turns his attention elsewhere. He reinvents himself. Why would he do that? Could it be that he is afraid of success? Afraid of failure? Or, maybe his current situation becomes just plain boring. Changing directions does hold promise for new experiences, new people, and plenty of mental stimulation. But if he constantly reinvents himself, he is also sacrificing stability, growth, and the financial ability and time to pursue personal goals and hobbies.
Face it: it’s appealing to chase the enthusiasm that a new project brings. The question that we have to ask is, “Is it worth it?” With this (as with everything in life) when we say “yes” to something we are saying “no” to something else. I left my client with these things to mull over this week. It will be interesting to see which direction he chooses.
If you are tempted to chase shiny new objects, stop for just a moment to ask yourself these questions:
1. Is this the right thing for me?
2. Is this the right time?
3. What are the costs in terms of time, money, and stability?
4. Am I just bored? If so, is there another way to get my need for excitement satisfied?
5. What am I saying “no” to if I say “yes” to this?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with changing directions if it is in your best interest to do so. But when it becomes a pattern, perhaps a little discretion is in order.
Have you ever chased after something shiny instead of following through with your current goals? We’ve all been there, so share your stories in the comments!