Stay in your own lane

Overwhelm is a real thing in small or home-based businesses. There’s always more that could be done – more products to create, more blogs to write, more opt-in pages to build, more social media posts to make, more clients to connect with, more, more, more.

With so much to be done it’s no wonder “shiny object syndrome” often sets in.

Every time you’re tempted to buy that new, must-have tool, or to test out a new marketing method, or even to switch business models entirely, you’re falling victim to this business killer.

The problem with “shiny object syndrome” is that it prevents you from achieving success by shifting your focus away just when you’re about to hit your stride. I’ve seen it happen time and time again – a promising startup just begins to make sales and gain a following, and then out of the blue the owner does a pivot into a completely unrelated niche or business.

To prevent this from happening to you, here are four proven strategies to keep you on track.

1. Set clear goals

The first step toward the clarity and focus you need to avoid shiny object syndrome is simply to know your goals. Where exactly are you going? Your goals are often tied to your “why,” which I’ve written about in the past. Do you want to build a six-figure coaching program? Earn a living from your online business? Design websites for offline businesses?

Regardless of your business model, if you don’t know your goal, you will always struggle with focus. With that lack of clarity every new strategy and tool will pull you further away from your dreams.

2. Leverage your wardrobe

I know you’re thinking, “How does this work?” For over a year I’ve written about the power and importance of your image and appearance. Why? Because your clothing can help you stay focused, grounded, and support you in the achievement of your goals.

Dressing with mindfulness and intention allows your clothes to express your authenticity and attract your deepest desires. Because everything has energy (including what you wear), you can create a wardrobe that support the energy underlying your goals.

Whether it’s for more wisdom and creativity to map out your next program or book; more of a “get it done” attitude to stop procrastinating; greater confidence networking to connect with more people; to build trust and deeper relationships with your clients; or much-needed organizational skills and the push to finally finish the project you’ve working on, your wardrobe can help you.

We know this intuitively but rarely act on it. For example, when we “throw on anything” we don’t often feel inspired to do our best. However, when we “dress” for an occasion or event, somehow there’s a twinkle in our eyes and a bounce in our step. Leveraging your wardrobe matters.

3. Commit to a plan

Before you implement a new marketing strategy, change business plans or even purchase a new tool, ask yourself if you’re truly willing to give it a fair shot at success. Marketing strategies take time to grow legs. I know we live in a fast food generation, but patience remains a virtue and often one that will pay off. Business models can require years to show a profit, and that shiny new tool won’t earn back its cost if you toss it aside next week for something different.

Be realistic with yourself, and make a plan to give your idea the best shot at success. Make a commitment to yourself and your business.

4. Put on your blinders

If all else fails, simply unplug. Get off mailing lists that endlessly promote the latest and greatest idea. Stop curating endless amounts of information by reading every blog and visiting as many Facebook groups as you can. Don’t click on ads. Stop taking in additional information and work with the information you have at hand for a while.

With so many distractions out there it can be challenging to stay in your own lane. Your ability to focus will keep you from continually jumping from one thing to the next. Remember, your clients and collaborators are watching, looking to you for stability and guidance.

Focus on what you know works, keep your goals in mind, leverage your wardrobe and recommit to making your business go from good to great.

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, a certified image professional and owner of Camas-based Evolve Image Consulting, is the expert behind the Vancouver Business Journal’s advice column: Dress Code. These columns specialize in strategies for success by developing a strong positive and professional image. Walsh can be reached at