Us entrepreneurs – we are idea generating machines.
We see opportunities everywhere. We new solutions to old problems. We get inspired on a daily basis to create something new that could change the world.
Our biggest strength is also our biggest weakness when all those new ideas become shiny objects that hold us back from gaining the momentum we need to build a profitable, sustainable business.
Shiny Object Syndrome = the source of almost ALL overwhelm entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. So how do we combat Shiny Object Syndrome without losing that entrepreneurial spark? By saying ‘NO’.
People think focus is about saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. – Steve Jobs
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything. – Warren Buffet
What you don’t do determines what you can do. – Tim Ferris
But saying ‘NO’ isn’t always easy.
How can you start saying NO to shiny objects and YES to more focus?
1:: Keep An Idea Parking Lot
Early in my consulting career, I did a lot of strategic planning retreats for executive teams. The goal? Map out their strategic focus for the next 5 years in their business over 2 days.
The first day of a strategic planning retreat is always the most fun – it’s all big picture dreaming and brainstorming innovative new ideas. Each idea gets a single post-it note. When you wrap up the first day, it’s exciting to see all the possibilities and overwhelming to see how much work is ahead.
The second day is all about saying NO. Dozens of big goals are narrowed down to 3-5 focuses (aka the BIG ROCKS) for the next 1, 3, and 5 years. Post-it notes are crumpled up and tossed in the trash as ideas are discussed and prioritized to only keep the ones in alignment with the strategic direction of the business.
But some ideas are too good to throw away… and they just don’t fit in with the agreed 3-5 focuses right now. What do you do?
We put those ideas in an idea parking lot.
An idea parking lot is simply a place to stick those great ideas for safekeeping until it’s the right time to bring them to the forefront in your business. It could be as simple as a Google Doc, an Evernote file, or a notebook you keep with you to capture ideas when you’re inspired throughout the day.
The best part about an idea parking lot? You get to keep track of all those great ideas, add to them when you’re inspired, and when you’re ready to start developing that idea everything you need is at your fingertips.
Ask Yourself:: Where are you creating your idea parking lot?
2:: Choose Your Top 3 Big Rocks
The most challenging part of staying focused is choosing your top priorities aka Big Rocks and then saying NO to everything else so that you can give them 100% of your time, energy, and resources.
When you start to study people who are the prolific writers, creators, artists of our time, you start to see that they are incredibly focused on the essential few priorities instead of the trivial many distractions. They develop habits that support their creativity. They schedule blocks of time in their calendars to do their work. And most importantly – they turn OFF the distractions (including email notifications, Facebook messages, and cell phones).
This is the opposite of how most of us approach achieving our big goals! Most of us have amazing ideas we’d like to pursue, but months and years go by without actually bringing that idea to life.
Three Big Rocks in my business this year were 1) create and launch a sales strategy masterclass, Get More Clients, 2) write and publish my second book, Your Business Sweet Spot, and 3) a complete overhaul and rebrand of RachealCook.com (launching next week).
The only reason these Big Rocks have been accomplished by August is because they were actually prioritized in my business. Time was blocked out in February and March to create the new program. The summer gave me a full one day a week for my book.
Bottom Line:: You can’t wait to ‘find’ the time. You’ve got to MAKE the time if you are serious about accomplishing your goals!
Ask Yourself:: What is a big picture project you want to focus on for the next 90 days? Have you made time in your calendar to bring those ideas to life?
3:: Focus on Just In TIME Learning
Raise your hand if you are a lifelong student who loves nothing more than reading the latest book, following multiple blogs and podcasts, or taking new trainings and courses! I know I’m not alone here!
All the learning all the time = a recipe for shiny object overwhelm.
When you lack a clear focus and purpose in your business strategy, it’s really easy to get caught up in the trap of Just In Case Learning. It happens when your day to day actions in your business aren’t based on a strategic plan but instead is based on the latest tip, trick, or tactic posted on Instagram. It happens when you find yourself buying ebooks that collect dust on your iPad and courses that sound amazing but you never get past the first lesson.
Just In Time Learning is the opposite. Instead of constantly consuming all the information, you only consume what you need right now to implement the current focus in your business.
As a course junkie and bookworm, focusing on Just In Time Learning has helped me to narrow in on what I actually spend my time and money consuming! For example – a core focus for this quarter was running Facebook Ads to get traffic to my free webinars and challenges. So my team and I spent our resources (time and money) learning everything we needed to run a successful Facebook Ads campaign. What we didn’t spend time on? A fun Instagram course, several new books that came out this summer, and dozens of blog posts sitting in a folder in our inbox.
Ask Yourself:: What do you actually need to learn to take action on your top 3 big rocks in your business?
These practices seem so easy, but they are incredibly powerful especially when you hold yourself accountable. It’s really easy to convince yourself that each new idea is the best idea ever! Challenge yourself to stick to only 3 big ideas for the next 30 days and you’ll see a dramatic change in your productivity!
If you like this, I’d love for you to join me for The Fired Up & Focused Challenge! In 21 Days, we’re gonna plan, prioritize, and boost your productivity so you can create more ease and less stress in your biz!
Ready to Grow Your Biz?
Join our community of heart-centered entrepreneurs and I'll send you my best lessons to growing a business you love!