[success]Any idea that is held in the mind, that’s either feared or revered will begin at once to clothe itself in the most convenient and appropriate physical forms available. ~ Andrew Carnegie[/success]

Remember when you were a little kid and you went to the store to get a present for someone special? I’m talking waaay back, when your little nose barely came to the top of the counter.

Don’t know about you, but my eye was usually attracted to the thing that was the most gaudy in its brightness or the shiny box that glistened high above me, glimmeringly demanding my approval.

My mum graciously received disgusting smelling perfumes, often bright red or green because they came in panda shaped bottles that were so cute…well to me.  Her jewelry box held hideous rings and necklaces because they were enclosed in a bright, shiny box.

The idea that objects in shiny wrappers are desirable lingers in my subconscious mind.  And it’s had me hooked.  Only today, I’m attracted not by shiny wrapping paper, but by every e-mail that arrives offering a not-to-be-missed e-course or seminar, or project. I can’t say no.

Have you been fighting the good fight to say no to something?  It could be you’re attracted to the latest and greatest diet book to hit the bookstores, or the next best personal development cd sharing the smartest way to be rich, or spiritually developed.

How are you at managing a weight loss plan, stopping smoking, eating less sugar, improving your follow through?

If you experience an inability to say no or take on more than you can possibly handle, or struggle with managing your projects, then maybe the time has come to take a conscious look at life and ask yourself how do you really want to live?

I definitely needed to take a conscious look at my life, so I began here.

Curb your enthusiasm

What I was doing wasn’t working for me.  In fact it was dispiriting.

Some of us are overly enthusiastic and yes, I’m raising my hands on this one.  Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing, it releases those feel good endorphins, promotes optimism and is a great antidote for what ails you.  Yet there’s a downside. Unbridled enthusiasm can often mean taking on more than we can chew and we end up deflated, annoyed with ourselves, and hardly vibrating with the energy of success.

We get so overwhelmed we can’t even start.  And if we do get started, it can be even harder to keep going.

The Three questions

In a moment of utter disgust with myself for the not only unfinished, but unstarted, projects and e-courses that I’d signed up and paid good money for, I remembered the story of the three questions.

A woman inherited her husband’s engineering company when he passed away.  Everyone expected her to sell, because she knew nothing about the business and most certainly wasn’t an engineer.  A few weeks later she went into the company and asked to meet with the heads of every department.

She asked them three questions.

What are you doing?

What doesn’t work?

What does work?

And she had them regularly stop and ask themselves the three questions and then follow what was working, and the company went from success to success.

That works for me.

Choose the outcome

I talk about choosing the outcome incessantly, you’d think it’d be a given in my life.  But it hasn’t yet become automatic in all areas.  It sucks I know, but growth isn’t always linear.

Choosing outcomes is one of the most effective ways I know for making wishes fulfilled.

How do we get anywhere?  We decide that’s where we’re going.

I know where I’m going when I stop writing for the day. And I know how to get there…I’ll get in my car and head out to that fabulous cupcake shop I’ve had a hankering to visit… or maybe I’ll just say no to sugar today.

Whatever I decide to do, wherever I decide to go, I already know what I need to do to get there. My subconscious has all the information it needs, nicely tucked away, and I don’t have to think about how to drive my car, or which direction will take me towards my goal.

My subconscious also has my lust for shiny wrapped objects deeply ensconced and I’ve been operating from there, with occasional little tweaks along the way, as to what constitutes a shiny object.  Time to choose something different as my default mode, taking me in a direction more likely to lead me to fulfilling my underlying desire.


Instead of bouncing around and reacting to this, that or the other, I needed to slow down and calmly decide what I want. Choose who I’ve decided to be.  My current results are a product of my level of awareness.  To have different results I’ve got to change or raise my level of awareness.

To become different, to act differently, to be different, we need to start with the awareness of who we currently are. Our power to change lies in this awareness.  My desire to achieve different results inspires me to reach for a higher level of awareness, and encourages me, not only to look at where I was going, but where I was coming from.

Create a habit and stick to it

There’s no point in fighting my old habit, it only lives as long as it’s in my awareness.

What did I actually want?  Hmmm turned out what I was seeking really was an expansion of consciousness.  Finding the essence of what I want will make it so much easier to stop pouncing on every apparent shiny object that crosses my path.

We created our old  habits and we can let them  go and choose to create something that serves us better.

I’m growing myself out of my limitations. I’m exchanging my old shiny wrapper syndrome for habits that will serve me better.

And starting today I’m:

Choosing the outcome before I begin, which includes how it feels. And I’m adding a twist.  I’m writing it down.

Letting go of multi-tasking…it’s another shiny wrapper syndrome.

Taking time to contemplate, or meditate on the rich resources within, and claim them as my own.

Giving thanks for the wonderful things in my life and the wonderful things that are happening for me now.

Remembering one can be fun.  Choosing one thing and finishing it before starting another.

Ignoring new shiny wrappings.

Letting go of unrealistic expectations.  Looking at where I am and work from there.

Focusing on what’s in front of me right now, with no thoughts of anything else.

Clearing my desk of anything that doesn’t support or promote the one project I’m working on in that moment.

Investing time to imagine how great I feel at the end of the day, with no multitude of half started…if I’m lucky…projects.

Check every day what worked for me and junk anything else.

In the comments below we’d love to hear your experiences. What’s getting in your way, or making you feel dispirited?  Do you have any techniques you can share with the rest of us.  We’re all in this world together and you might be the very one who made a difference.

Love Elle



Elle Sommer is the author of 4 books and a workbook. Her latest publications are a series called The Power of Consciousness, and you will find all three books in this trilogy now available on Kindle. She shares quotes, inspiration and positive vibes on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And her greatest desire is to encourage and inspire others to create not just a good life, but a phenomenal life.


  1. I can so relate to your post, Elle. My enthusiasm has led to to an email inbox full of requests and offers that are tempting, but lead me off track. I too am saying “No” more often, and I want to focus instead on my goals. Technology is wonderful, but the available information can have you off in a new direction before you know it. Thanks for the reminder to rein in. Take care.

    • Elle

      I somehow didn’t think I’d be alone in this Cathy. As you say with modern technology and our fast paced way of life, it’s hardly surprising we get caught up in the shiny wrapper syndrome. I can see mindfulness operating in more and more areas of life, making it a darn site easier. 🙂

  2. Hi Elle, distractions are so subtle, that we can be lost in no time. Focus, deliberation, one project at a time – all these things are great. But we need to do exactly what you are doing, become more aware , reflect and start again.

    • Elle

      I absolutely agree Karen…it’s that darned old awareness thingy popping up again. The good news is as you say, we become aware, we reflect and begin again. And at the end of the day it’s all good, it’s all taking us forward. It’s life. 🙂

  3. Hi Elle,
    Enthusiasm is tremendous. Can’t get enough of it. It’s where you focus that enthusiasm is the key (as you know).

    be good to yourself

    • Elle

      Good point David and yes it’s one I’ve learned probably more than once, before I let my enthusiasm for life, plus my curiosity, to run the show. Maybe with my new level of awareness I’m directing my enthusiasm, instead of scattering it everywhere. Here’s hoping. 🙂

  4. Want a partner in this crime of “Create a habit and stick to it” I think we must have been in the same space when you wrote this. I cam here from Tess’s last post which I allowed to distract me from my one task for toady which has alluded me for the past 3 or 4 days.
    When I finishing writing this and sharing this wonderful post i am going back to my intention for today- thank you. Everything you wrote here resonates with me from the unfinished e-courses and projects to the the great skill I think I have in multitasking which is so often what takes me away from my purpose.
    Thanks for a brilliant post and now to focus on one thing until complete
    Suzie xxoo

    • Elle

      I think you’re right Suzie…we were pretty much in tune with one another on the last post we commented on and here we are again. I’m beginning to think it’s universal, especially for those like me who are less linear and operate much more from the other side of the brain. I had to remind myself this morning to choose the one thing I intended to get done today and that everything else is icing on the cake.

      It feels especially freeing to have signed myself off a number of courses and classes…who know I’d feel this light? 🙂 Goes to show, when our intuition is knocking on the door, because we’ve asked for another way of being, we really should let it in asap. 🙂

  5. Elle –
    I love the phrase ‘shiny wrapper syndrome’. A really fine post Elle-
    I applaud you for taking a hard look at yourself. I’ve been peeling off layers for a while now – and continue to do so.
    One of the greatest gifts I have given myself is NOT to etch in stone expectations or /to do lists for the day except for my morning routine.
    If I have work that is on deadline – I have an ingrained alarm clock that tells me to get moving on it. Other than that, I’ve made the decision that my inner peace, staying focused on each moment, loving, and living joyfully are what matters to me. Gone are the days where I feel like I have to ‘do’ something that shows I’m making a contribution to the world…..xxoo – Fran

    • Elle

      I like the way you think Fran. Can’t do much better than living with inner peace, joy and love…that’s got to be the bringer of even more wonderful things. 🙂

  6. Hi Elle,
    I’ve been putting my self in a place of action like Patti Digh says. I commit and then have no choice but to stay focused and finish the job. I’m trying to figure out how to do podcasts as the deadline is looming. I’m in a stuck place right now but know I’ll figure it out.

    • Elle

      Good for you Tess. I’m imagining you did it..and better than that, it turned out to be easy for you…everything you needed to make it happen just showed up. Love the way the laws of the universe operate, don’t you? 🙂

  7. “There’s no point in fighting my old habit, it only lives as long as it’s in my awareness.” This is such a true statement Elle! Just yesterday, I found myself identifying a habit that I needed to break… “over-thinking”. Sometimes, I just over-think plans and doing this gets in the way of me doing other projects. There very thought of me trying not to over-think is futile.

    What I am practicing a variation of detachment to take the place of over-thinking. After I produce my work I ask myself 1) if I did as much as I possibly could given the information I have; 2) is it valid (or at least cogent for some certain cases) and positive in tone; 3) what is the next project. Going through this process today, has helped me to be organized, focused and move along through my projects. I believe that this process allows me to let go of the expectation of achieving perfection while giving me space to be the best that I can be with the information that I have at that moment in time.

    All the best to you!

    • Elle

      I like the way you think Ajen and welcome to the conversation. I’m so on the same page with you, letting go of stuff that doesn’t help, which is why I really like the releasing technique. 🙂

  8. Joseph Appaloosa

    SWS (shiny wrapper syndrome) does seem to be prevalent in today’s world !
    Another wonderful article for contemplation . . . And reading the story of “The Three Questions ” again, it certainly brought into focus just how simple and concise the process can be. I have found that as I have gained years, I have become more demanding in not only choosing my outcomes but being Determined (staying in the Faith of completion) that they are fulfilled.
    Thank you, agin.
    Write on, Elle !

    • Elle

      What a great idea Joseph, to choose the outcomes you desire and through determination sticking with that picture until it materialises. And we both know it must and will if you have stick-to-it-ive-ness. I think I just made that word up. 🙂

  9. thank you for the eye-opener sis. I definitely need to ask myself those questions constantly and i’m going to place it in a picture and center it on my desktop right now.

    • Elle

      Hello Vanita. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts, it’s always good to see you. And that’s a great thought, putting it right smack dab in the middle of your desktop. I might pinch that idea. 🙂

  10. Ah, that email inbox! I’ve finally conquered it. Some months ago, I got so overwhelmed with stuff that I just set myself a deadline, made a few lists and got started. I find that asking myself “will this make me happy?” works for a lot of things. And “how will it help me live a better life?” for some things. All said and done, we don’t get a minute over 24 hours in a day, a chunk of which we spend sleeping. The time we’re awake, it is only fair to treat each moment as a precious gift as we can never get it back again. I experience the shiny wrapper syndrome (Love the concept) with information. Ah, everything else is good! To overcome my SWS, I simply switch off the computer 😉
    Hugs – superb post. As always!

    • Elle

      Hi Vidya…love your contribution to the conversation, as always. How is this contributing to my happiness is a great question…funnily enough, I’ve just written a post about it…sort of…to be published tomorrow. How come we’re so often working from the same page? 🙂 And bless you for your encouragement.

  11. Not shiny objects, Elle, but a horse we saw. She was so beautiful and I was obsessed with getting her and knew it. So, I prayed about it and had a vision during my prayers.

    I was a small child and went with my father in a toy store for a doll. There were shelves and shelves of dolls and I picked the first one I saw but my father said, “no”. I cried and my heart was broken.

    Just then, I saw a hand reach in and up to the top shelf and brought down the most beautiful doll. I jumped around with joy. I learned a lesson that day to take my time in choosing the things I want and consider all the possibilities.

    Elle, also wanted to let you know I’ve included you as one of my nominees for this award on my site at the CommentLuv link below.

    Thank you for your writing and your support!

    • Elle

      What a lovely contribution to the conversation Pat. I love your perspective, learned at such a young age. Kudos to you. And thank you so much for nominating me…I’m honoured to be included. 🙂

      • Thank you Elle. I love it when those “ah-ha” moments come around and the lights go on.

        And, you’re welcome on the nomination. I’m always happy to share your reflections and thoughts with my fellow bloggers.

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