Learn when to wear your blinders to benefit your career.
Every year, all eyes turn to Louisville, Kentucky for “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports,” the Kentucky Derby. Nearly twenty Thoroughbreds race down one-and–a-quarter miles of track, each vying for a piece of the $2.18 million purse and a shot at becoming the next Triple Crown winner. As you can imagine, many measures are taken to prepare each horse for its top performance.
Oftentimes, this preparation entails fitting race horses with blinders that stop horses from seeing to the rear and, in some instances, to the side. It’s believed that blinders prevent the horses from becoming distracted and help them stay focused on the race.
Per usual, this concept got me thinking about the job search. As professionals, we too have the ability to put blinders on. But the question remains: should we put on career blinders? Does this help or hurt our careers? I’ve read articles that argue for and against the use of “career blinders” and I’ve come to this conclusion: there’s a time and place to use blinders.
When to Take the Blinders Off
If you’re just starting graduate school, you’re new to the workforce, your career is hitting a plateau, or you’re considering a transition, then it’s in your best interest to take the blinders off and open yourself up to other possibilities. Don’t close yourself off until you’re confident in your career goals. Do a little soul-searching and explore other opportunities. Ramp up your networking efforts and connect with people from different fields who can help you brainstorm different career choices. Don’t limit yourself until you’ve clarified your job goals and started building a plan to get there.
When to Put the Blinders On
Once your career goals are clear, it’s important to put those blinders back on to avoid distractions and keep your focus. As NAPW spokesperson, Star Jones mentioned in her address at the NAPW National Networking Conference last week, “Your intention will send you in the direction that determines your destination.” If you lose sight of your goals, you’re more likely to go off track. Whether your goal is to get promoted or change careers entirely, take a moment to write it down. Include the reasons why you want to achieve this goal. Also, if you were to successfully complete this goal, how would your life be different? By simply writing down your goal, you are more likely to stay the course and achieve it.
Take some time to figure out where you are in your career and where you want to go next. If you’re still unsure of your career path, allow yourself the time to explore different options. When you know what you want to achieve, do everything you can to stay focused on that goal. Make it a point to prioritize those activities that will bring you closer to achieving your goal.
Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.