Yesterday I was diagnosed with a serious disease. As I sit here typing this, my mind is racing, trying to figure out what I can still do with my life. It’s painful, knowing that it can cause me to lose out on everything that I have been hoping and dreaming for in my life. The only good thing about this disease is that it’s treatable and I can beat it. This disease is called the S.O.S. disease, or Shiny Object Syndrome.
One of my biggest weaknesses in my life is that I am so ambitious. Sometimes I am ambitious to a fault. I know where I want to end up, but I don’t know how to get there so I start throwing out all my business ideas to see what sticks. In the past couple years alone, I’ve started an edible cookie dough company, a watch company, have a window cleaning company, and am starting a podcast now.
All these things I’ve done to try to find a path that will lead me to reach my goals. Most of those endeavors lasted a couple months at the most, and then faded into the great beyond. At the time I started these projects I thought I was passionate about them, but after a couple months I usually realized I had no passion and just was trying to make money.
I see this going on with so many people in the world today, especially those who want to be entrepreneurs. They find one thing that is trending and try to monetize it (try googling keto and see how many ads from self-proclaimed “gurus” appear), and then when that dies down they move to the next big thing. They are constantly chasing the shiny object. I am constantly chasing the shiny object.
If you’ve ever seen the movie, UP, you’ve seen Shiny Object Syndrome in action. Think of how the dog, Dug, shouts “Squirrel!” randomly in the middle of any sentence. Dug is doing his own thing, and then the Shiny Object, what he thinks is a squirrel, appears and he loses all sense of focus and what he was doing. He literally stops what he’s doing to search for the new Shiny Object. Many of us are the same way. We move too fast between opportunities.
I think that much of this is because the world, today, is much more dependent on instant gratification. We want to get rich, but we want to get rich quick. We say we’re willing to work hard, but at the first sign of trouble we bail. Because of how many options surround us we often jump ship immediately and swim to the nearest ship with a new opportunity.
I recently heard a survey on the radio that shocked me. They asked respondents if they would rather be given one million dollars or work hard and earn one million dollars. 65% of those surveyed said they would prefer the money given to them. At first, I was appalled. For me it isn’t even a question. I want to enjoy my hard work and see the results. Yet looking back at my life, too many times have I dropped something too fast because I wasn’t getting rich quick.
Liking your job and being passionate at work are two extremely important things needed to be successful. What many people don’t understand is that we can learn those things. We like the things that we know how to do. We dislike the things that we don’t know how to do. If you want to like something, master that skill. When I first started selling I really disliked it. I realize now that I didn’t dislike selling, I disliked not feeling competent. Now that I have learned the skill of selling in recruiting, door-to-door, etc., I really enjoy it.
Many people today jump from opportunity to opportunity because they want to avoid feeling incompetent. When things go wrong they close shop and blame their circumstances because they would rather do that than face themselves in the mirror and realize they didn’t have the knowledge. It’s easier to blame external situations than to take responsibility. But as Jerzy Gregorek said, “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.”
Doing hard things requires willpower and perseverance. Nobody is saying it’s easy to stand in the face of failure and take it on the chin repeatedly. But doing that exact thing is what creates the life that we want. Opportunities come and go, but skills last forever. Instead of searching for opportunities that fit your current skillset, improve your skills you need to be successful in your current opportunity, and watch as even better opportunities appear in the future.