You can do anything you want to do but you can’t do everything you want to do. Shiny-object Syndrome is the urge to chase and engage things that get your attention. The problem is, there are too many opportunities, too many shiny objects, more interesting and compelling things than we have time or resources to chase. In this episode we talk about managing our shiny-object syndrome.
I have the tendency to go after things that get my attention, stir my interest, or pique my curiosity. By the time I was 8 years old, nearly everything in our house that would come apart, I had taken it apart to see how it worked, and then put it back together. Now, the things that draw me in, irrespective of whether I have time or capacity for them or not, are exciting initiatives, complex project, seeing a need I think I can fix, or the greatest shiny-object-attention-getter of them all — a challenge.
Here’s a criteria of things we should consider when a shiny-object catches our attention and bids for our resources and energy? (Qualifier: These are notes for a podcast, for full content, listen to the podcast.)
1 – Do your core values demand it?
Values and morals are connected but they are two different things. My values provide the framework for my life. Values are the declaration of the things important to us, that guide our mission. Values are our non-negotiable anchors.
The very purpose of knowing and committing to our values is keeping us on mission. Does the thing that grabs your attention, the thing that looks exciting to be involved in—does that thing align with your core values? If not, leave it or limit it.
To take this to another level, we must ask the question, “Will my core values accommodate or allow this?” but the bigger question is, “Do our core values demand we do this (or at least consider doing it)?”
2 – Does your long-term vision require it?
We talk a lot about following the currents, but when we talk about following currents we are talking about God’s currents, not just any current. We don’t always know where we’re going long term, but the short term leads to the long term. So, as you evaluate which paths to take you’ve got to think about, okay, what if this road turns into a really big thing that will become a large and significant part of my life, do I want that? If not, keep it between the river banks.
3 – Does your capacity accommodate it?
How much capacity do I have. In evaluating capacity we have to think about preparation, execution, and recovery. Do we have time to let that cycle work through over and over again with all of the things we have going.
CAN I KEEP PACE? If I incorporate this shiny-object into my life, will I have to run hard from gate to gate to make it. Episodes 144 and 145 were about REST, this episode continues that theme. You can keep a crushing schedule for a little while, but you don’t want your life to consist of running from gate to gate.
4 – Will your infrastructure support it?
Infrastructure and the support structures of our lives that determine how much load we can bear. Think about a bridge. The roadway is the point, that’s the part we use, but look under the bridge, that’s the infrastructure.
Infrastructure is where you live, it’s your resources and finances, it’s all the things that support your day to day life. Education and preparation is infrastructure. What kind of infrastructure have you built and will it support what you are thinking about doing?
Can you zone down when you get home? What season of life are you in? How much effort and energy does it take to live. In Africa, the pace is different here. It takes longer to get things done.
Included in infrastructure is proximity, if I spend a lot of my time in travel, that will be time to subtract from the time I can engage.
5 – Will your resources sustain it?
Finances are part of the infrastructure, how much is this going to stress our resources? We are in a situation where we’ve raised a budget for 3 to 4 years and it is a finite number. We cannot keep adding things to our plate that will drain resources from the main things upon which we must focus. When a new venture is a God thing, God will always provide, when it is chasing a shiny-object, and we chase too many of those, it will suck resources from things we must be doing, the things anchored in our values.
When our attention is diverted or divided by a worthy pursuit outside our core focus, we are tempted to chase it, it would be fun. Instead, before chasing shiny objects, we need to ask ourselves these six questions:
- Do your core values demand it?
- Does your long-term vision require it?
- Does your capacity accommodate it?
- Will your infrastructure support it?
- Will your resources sustain it?