It’s easy–sometimes all too easy–to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of your work-life and not take a good look at how you’re really doing overall. This approach bears an uncomfortably strong resemblance to a racehorse with blinkers on. If you’ve fallen into that trap, now is the time to free yourself from it.
Just to give a little background, blinkers have at least a couple of purposes when used with horses: to prevent the horse seeing to the rear and, in some cases, to the side; to keep the horse focused on what is in front of him, encouraging him to pay attention to the race rather than other distractions.
Now there’s nothing wrong with concentration in and on your job performance. Distractions that keep you from performing at your peak effectiveness should probably be disregarded as much as possible. Savvy employees know that they need to achieve good results and meet or exceed the expectations of their boss(es) if they hope to succeed long term.
However, if you’re wearing mental blinkers regarding your job performance, you might be heading for a fall in terms of your career success. Remember, blinkers keep you from seeing much of anything except what’s right in front of you. When you’re on the job, lack of awareness about what’s going on around you can prove disastrous.
Essentially, success in your job performance becomes more attainable when you learn to balance concentration with awareness. There’s a time to focus and a time to assess with an open mind (to take the blinkers off for a while). How you manage this balance depends on your style, personality, preferred method of operating, and so on.
For example, if you’re the methodical type, comfortable with a fair amount of structure, you might choose to block out a specific time each week to review what you’ve actually been doing and check that against what you were expected to accomplish. If your boss has set some objectives for your job performance, that’s a good place to start.
On the other hand, if you tend to be a free-wheeler, you might be more comfortable adopting a flexible approach and doing your assessment when you feel in the mood for it. As long as you make sure you do it, the exact timing probably isn’t so important.
So if you’re chugging along and not checking on your progress periodically, you might think you’re doing okay. But what if “okay” isn’t really okay or isn’t enough to bring you satisfaction and long-term success? You don’t need to measure yourself against other people–even other people who do much the same work as you do–but you do need a way to determine whether you’re on the right track to reach where you want to be or seriously deluding yourself.
Think how great it would be to deliver the quality of job performance that would have people falling all over themselves to promote you or recruit you to an amazing new job or career opportunity. That rarely (never?) happens by accident.