How to avoid Shiny Object Syndrome and get more done - a guide for counsellors and therapists. Jane Travis, grow Your Private Practice

How to avoid Shiny Object Syndrome - and get things done

Do you know how many blog posts I have in 'draft' that I haven't finished?

Twenty three. Twenty three! That's a whole lotta blogs! 

So how come I went to the trouble of getting them almost written, but haven't finished them?

I was hit by Shiny Object Syndrome!

So what is Shiny Object Syndrome, and how can you combat it?  

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How to avoid shiny object syndrome, and get things done. Jane Travis, Grow Your Private Practice

What IS shiny object syndrome?

Basically, it’s when you get distracted by something new and exciting, like Doug in the film 'Up'. 

It’s very easy to do when marketing your private practice - because there are so many things you can do!

For example, you decide you’re going to do something new, say, start a blog. You take my course, Blogging With Confidence and commit to writing regularly

But then someone mentions Facebook live, so you start looking into what's involved with them. Interesting! So you start planning your new Facebook live strategy.

Then, someone says they're having lots of luck on LinkedIn. Ooh, that sounds interesting! So you abandon Facebook and start learning all about LinkedIn.

So you haven’t finished any blogs, you only did a couple of Facebook lives and it’s only a matter of time until something new and exciting takes you away from LinkedIn before you really see any benefit.

Another way Shiny Object Syndrome (or SOS) might show is buying stuff: do you have tools you haven’t used? Or courses you haven’t finished (or started). I know some people join Grow Your Private Practice full of enthusiasm, but then don’t really engage in it, so don’t get the results they were looking for (if that's you, just let me know and I'm sure I can help you get your mojo back!). 

Why it's bad

Well as we can see in the example above, nothing gets achieved, nothing gets finished so you don’t get to reap the rewards of your work. The outcome is you’re working hard, not getting results and therefore get disillusioned.

You doubt yourself, tell yourself you can’t do it, or these methods don’t work.

You get confused, overwhelmed and want to jack the whole thing in.

Why do we do it?

It's good old fear. A fear of being visible, of being judged, of being uncovered as a fraud (hello imposter syndrome my old friend…).

Sometimes we fear success - which on the face of it sounds crazy, but it happens a lot (and I've had this too).

Shiny Object Syndrome is a form of self sabotage because it stops us achieving, producing and moving forward.

How to get focussed

I can’t stress how important it is to get focussed on your marketing.

Consistency is key and it’s far far better to do just 1 thing well than do 10 things half heartedly.

For example, choose one social media platform and use it really well. 

You’ll reach far more people with one platform done well than being on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest and posting in a haphazard and inconsistent way. 

This will both be more effective AND save you time.

So here are 8 things to help combat Shiny Object Syndrome 

1. Planning

If you’ve ever sat down in front of the computer to do some marketing and not known where to start, then is for you!

Once a month sit and plan what you’re going to do that month. Plan it all out, right down to the small stuff.

Then get it in your diary and stick to it.

When you know what you are going to focus on and achieve, you get more done in less time, and really see the benefits

Need help with your planning? We have a monthly planning meeting in the Grow Your Private Practice club. This takes the pressure off you as you get loads of ideas and tips on what to post, and where to focus your efforts each month. It's guaranteed to save you time and stress and vastly improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. 

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2. Face your fears

It’s important to get to know your fears, because if you know what you’re dealing with, you can protect yourself.

So for example, if you have a fear of being successful, what’s that about?

Maybe you worry:

  • What will people think?
  • check
    Will people be jealous?
  • check
    Will it change the dynamics in my relationship?
  • check
    Will people expect too much from me?
  • check
    Will I get overwhelmed and stressed?
  • check
    Will I be uncovered as a fraud?

When you know what your fear is, you can tackle it. So if you worry about getting overwhelmed, maybe you can consider things in advance like time boundaries and self care.

3. Have a waiting list

No, not for clients, but have a place to keep all those exciting ideas that pop up.

I have a squillion ideas a day of new and exciting things to do and try, so I can be happily writing a blog post and an idea sparks in my head. If I try to hold that idea in my head it distracts me, but I don't want to lose it.  So I have a dedicated place to keep my ideas.

It used to be an ideas notebook, but now I use Trello which is a free online organisational tool. Whatever you use, make a few notes so you'll remember what your idea was when you come back to it!

This way, I know the idea isn’t going to be lost and I can come back to it and decide if I want that to become my focus.

Tip: You can also do this with training and CPD, including books to read.

4. Ponder

When you have a brilliant new idea, write it down and then sit on it for a while. Does this REALLY feel right to you?

  • Does this REALLY feel right for you?
  • What are the pro's and cons?
  • check
    If you do this, what else will you have to drop?
  • check
    What will it cost in time and money?

5. Awareness

If you know you have Shiny Object Syndrome, you can take steps to prevent it. So for me, FOCUS has been my word of the year.

Beating shiny object syndrome, a guide for counsellors and therapists

I have this image on my screensaver, my profile in the Grow Your Private Practice private member community, my phone screensaver.

By allowing myself to be consciously aware of my tendency to get distracted, I can tackle it head on and take control.

This has paid off enormously this year.

6. Be clear of your 'why'

When you start something new, get really clear on why you’re doing it and write those reasons down.

Then, when you start being tempted by something new and exciting you'll be able to remind yourself of why you chose this. 

7. Commit

Make a pact with yourself to fully commit to a new idea and see it to its conclusion. Only abandon a project when absolutely necessary. 

8. New does not mean better

There are new techniques, new platforms, new methods popping up all the time, and these can be very alluring. 

But there are timeless classics that have worked and continue to work that shouldn't be dismissed. 

Blogging, networking, workshops, word of mouth may feel a bit 'old school' when faced with the latest 'thing'. But they have stood the test of time.

I remember when Periscope was THE THING, and everyone joined, did some training etc and worked on getting their audience. Now, you rarely hear of it. But the blog posts I wrote back then are still here, working hard for me.  


Shiny Object Syndrome is extremely common and is just one more hurdle to get over when in business But as with everything, once you’re aware of it you can protect yourself.

And if you protect yourself, you can move your practice forward by consistently doing the work necessary to attract more clients and increase your income.

So it’s gotta be worth taking stock of!

And if you need help with that, come join the club!

Grow your private practice club, a place for therapists to grow their practice

About the Author Jane

Jane lives in beautiful Lincoln with her 2 boys and rescue dog. When she's not talking about herself in the third person, she's usually found drinking wine and eating Maltesers. Sometimes she even shares them with friends.

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