Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

Stop Chasing Shiny Objects!

I have written about this before, but the more time I spend with my ideal clients the more I see just how big a problem it is.

S.O.S. or Shiny Object Syndrome is most definitely a ‘thing’. Many linear thinkers will debate it but what would they know, they don’t suffer with it! Herein lies the problem, just like a million other disbelieved problems for us creative minds, THEY don’t think it’s a thing, so we hide it. We try to fit in with the normies of society and deny that our brains are different because we want to be accepted, taken seriously, earn the same accolades as them, but we don’t need to. It is time to embrace our thinking and learn to use it to our advantage.

By nature (or nurture, blame, judgement…) you may see some of the symptoms of SOS as weaknesses, but they are strengths. Your job is to acknowledge the strength and energy in these skills, harness them and use them to project you to where you want to be.

Do you…

Have difficulty staying on task?

Become distracted when you are on task with many other things you still want to do, to the point where you forget where you are?

Make big mental leaps to the next big thing before you have nailed and earned money from your current project?

End up like a jack of all trades and master of none because you can’t just do that ‘one thing’?

Struggle to make enough money in your business because you keep changing direction?

FIRST let’s get something clear, everyone is NOT creative! You are different, FACT! Watch Jordan Peterson talk about the curse of creativity and notice how you think and why you may not be where you need to be right now.

Now look around you at the half-finished paintings, craft projects, DIY projects, novels, businesses, need I go on. I know you have them because I do! What about the fancy tools and equipment that you have never used? Paints, brushes, hand-made paper, books, stationery, crafting equipment, I know it’s there at the back of studios, cupboards, and shelves. This is noise and where you have acted on your SOS instead of completing your project or following through with that business idea. If you are shouting at the screen ‘this is me’ right now, then good, we are getting somewhere.

Your innate ability to think in such a creative and diverse manner is a superpower. So, let’s look at how you can manage though gorgeous, juicy ideas and put them to work for you.

Understand yourself and the way you work

When are you most productive? First thing in the morning or are you a night owl? If you slump after lunch, take a couple of hours off and work at a different time. Do you have a list of daily objectives, or do you try and wing it? If you are a ‘wing it’ type of person and you are failing, then here is the very reason you need to do something different. Do you work better in short bursts or long sessions? What is your greatest motivator and how can you use it? This is a voyage of discovery and an honest look in the mirror to accept that you may have some traits you need to change to become all that you can be.

Assess the potential of the next shiny thing

What is it that brings you joy?
How is that thing linked to your earnings?
What changes do you want to make in your life now to do this more often? If not now, when?

When you make money from the thing that brings you the most joy, it genuinely doesn’t feel like work. I can vouch for this as I am doing it right now in sharing what I know with you. I want you to imagine yourself creating a life filled with joy and feel it.

How often are you listening to and comparing yourself to others?

1 hour of research can save 10 wasted hours on something that just won’t work. When that shiny thing pops into your head, write it down and get on with your task with the intent of coming back to it for 1 hour another time. Do your market research and be honest with yourself, will it really work or is it a nice thing to do?

Set robust goals

I know that you may not like goal setting or even feel like you are not good at it, but this is a learned skill. Find a good piece of training or workshop on setting goals, preferably run by another creative, and approach with an open mind. I refuse to do spreadsheets; I like a paper planner and a pen. I use mind maps and sharpies on lining paper, I use post-it notes as prompts, but I have annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly, even daily goals and I measure them and review them.

You need to learn but find what works for you.

Limit the number of projects at any one time

Decide on your one main thing, your main income stream and look at how you will do all the things to deliver on that consistently. There are many different tasks to creating one consistent income stream so doing that other painting, writing that e-book, or creating that craft project can wait until your income is more predictable. This is hard, but it is about using the variety of marketing activities as Jordan Peterson talks about, to create the variety you crave.

Reflect on previous success

When was the last time you sat down and reviewed and analysed previous success. What made that thing successful? What action did you take that you are not taking now? What level of communication did you achieve that may be different to now? Who did you involve that you are not involving now? Drill down to the nitty gritty to identify the key points that created the success, this can become a blueprint which can be built upon as you have more and more success.

Reduce time on social media

This is a contradiction in terms, because you need social media for marketing. You do not need social media for comparing yourself to others and seeing what the whole world is doing! If it takes you 4 hours to schedule all your posts for the week then block that time out and do that task, then log off. Allow yourself two, fifteen minutes slots per day to engage with people on your posts and no more and stick to task, no scrolling! By approaching this like a job to do with allotted time frames you will stop doing the things that SOS pulls you towards.

Set strong boundaries

When you are in creative flow even a 20 second interruption can take you 20 minutes to recover from and this will trigger SOS. When you are working, communicate with others and ask them not to disturb you, set boundaries for them. You also need to set boundaries for you. Give yourself time limits for tasks, stay on task and leave it as soon as the timer goes. If you try to stay on task too long this is when SOS can take over. Ever gone to do your social media, then started browsing the internet and then came up with a new idea? Allocating timescales and stopping when you reach that time and moving onto the next task will help you manage you.

When you take the power back from shiny object syndrome by acknowledging you suffer from it and then put practises in place to help you to manage it, you will be amazed at the difference. I need to manage myself in this way, believe me. Even as I am writing this blog which takes about an hour (my allotted time) I am tempted to do something else. I have given myself the task, write one blog in one hour then take a 15-minute break, still my mind constantly comes up with other things, but I have stayed on task and finished what I wanted to say. If I can do it, so can you. If you need help, you know where I am.

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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