Have you started something that you didn’t finish? They come in many forms like half-baked so-called big ideas, piled-up chore work, daunting projects on hold, and so on. The road that leads to indecision is paved with many works-in-progress. I stared at a dozen unfinished articles and knew that I let them sit undone because I came up with a different idea – a better one. Or so I thought (and thought and thought…)
There’s a disease of distraction that pulls us away from the immediate goal. Psychologists call it Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). It happens when you chase after new thoughts and things, while never being able first to close the gap of current tasks that stare you on the nose. I hear and see it often in entrepreneurial and creative-types, though this can very well describe anyone.
SOS can also throw a wrench in your financial goals. You’ve planned it all out and calculated the number of payments you have left to pay off a debt. But you see a new opportunity to make money, but not without first shelling out funds to fuel the ember. How about an upgrade to a game-changer, new tech device that triggers another charge on your credit or debit card? You hop on a quick detour and displace your timelines.
When you think you’re just going with the flow of inspiration, it actually diminishes your willpower to finish what is in front of you. It’s a wild goose chase of constant stimuli. It’s hard to tame a mind that wanders off. Met with a lot of options, you induce self-doubt and procrastination.
Sabine Kastner, Professor in Princeton Neuroscience Institute, explains that when we are overwhelmed, the limbic system in our brain drives us to do what feels right, but not necessarily what is right. This sways us to be more impulsive in embracing new ideas we haven’t fully vetted out. How ironic that our brains concede to feeling versus thinking!
Here are 3 ways to combat the SOS villain:
Standardize Your Schedule
Set blocks of time for what your ideal week looks like. A structure is crucial in developing discipline for wise use of your time. This will minimize the number of decisions you need to make and also avoid bouncing around doing random tasks that make you look in so many directions. This schedule does not need to be rigid. You’re the one setting the main activities that imply your priorities. It should include creativity or free-flow segments too.
Jot Down Your Ideas
It’s an energizing mental exercise to be able to go anywhere in your mind, creativity-wise. As ideas prop up, write them all down. You let it simmer and take form when you commit to paper what you’re thinking. It deflects terrible ideas and bust unwise purchases. Keep a notebook with quick notes, bullet outlines, sketches, and the whole gamut of ways to preserve passing thoughts. But devote to develop them in more depth during the time you’ve set above. You will learn a lot about yourself when there are documented reference points at various stages of ripening ideas.
One thing at a time gets more done than many things at once. Multi-tasking is a fallacy. The prescription to your sanity is focusing on the one most important thing. Yes, there’s always more than one thing that’s important; so do it quickly to move on to the next. Stick to it and see it through. Sharpen your focus. Be mindful and discern the reasons why you’re dropping a task before they’re complete.
Keep tabs at tasks that you’ve started with the intention to complete. It will bolster your confidence to see all that you can learn in the process when you commit always to close the circle, and finish what you start. How liberating it must be not to have anything continually hanging over your head. But your real accomplishment is the person you’re becoming, developing muscles of perseverance.
Engage: What projects do you have yet to complete? What roadblocks do you encounter that keep you from seeing through a financial goal? Share other ways to resist the shiny object syndrome. Drop them in the comments below.
♥ Shiela Bernardo is a budget nerd who is keen to stay on track with her family’s financial goals. She perpetually seeks to demystify how to keep the house clean. She is a business analyst by profession & a self-taught computer programmer. She blogs about family, faith, and finances in her spare time.