A career that goes steeply upwards - who doesn't wish for that? But the path to it is often anything but hurdle-free. What is the best way to climb the career ladder? Is there even a secret recipe for this or is everyone on their own?
The magic word is: career planning! "That's not at all what it used to be," you think? And how it is! Especially in today's times, when careers like to zigzag, plans are all the more important. They give you stability in turbulent times and show you again and again where the journey is going.
They'll help you stay on track with your career goals and keep you on track when life takes you astray for a while. Your career doesn't just fly at you - you shape it yourself and work your way up. Your career plan gives you the necessary orientation.
What exactly does career planning mean and why is it so important?
You probably made your first professional plans as a small child, didn't you? Of course, that wasn't the beginning of your big career plan, but it was a first step. Most people discard the career aspirations they nurtured as a child, but even so, you are already setting the course for your future career at a young age. During your school career, it becomes clear where your strengths lie, what you particularly enjoy doing and in which professions you can make a valuable contribution. This forms the basis for your career planning.
In it, you record what you want for your professional future and set yourself goals. These are not only financial goals, but also temporal ones. Where do you want to be in five years, ten years and 20 years? Do you want to further your education in certain respects, start your own business or perhaps even change your line of work? All this is part of your career planning.
Think of it as a kind of control tool that keeps showing you when you're following the wrong track. But don't worry, once the plan is in place, it doesn't mean you have to follow it to the letter. Times change, things don't turn out the way you planned, and sometimes life just throws a wrench in the works. Maybe later on your priorities are completely different and your goals change. In that case, it's important not to just toss your career plan aside, but to rethink it.
What is the difference between vertical and horizontal career planning?
Of course, making a career means moving up the ladder and, at best, eventually even reaching the top. But which top? And who defines what that means anyway? Careers usually run in two dimensions: Either vertical or horizontal. Accordingly, what it means to have reached the top also differs.
Those who strive for a vertical career rise within their own company and take on more and more responsibility. Your goal is to take on a management position and make it to the top of the company.
If you pursue a horizontal career, that doesn't mean it doesn't go up for you. It does, just in a different sense. For you, the focus is not on running your business, but on professional excellence. You want to be the best in your field one day.
How does career planning work properly?
There is no secret recipe for perfect career planning. You and your goals are far too individual for that, and that's a good thing. Of course, we have nevertheless put together a few pointers for you that can help you with your planning. First and foremost, you need to get to grips with the different phases. There are four of them:
- Entry phase: until mid-20s
- Career stage: until mid-30s
- Alignment phase: until mid 40s
- Sense phase: from the middle of 40
Use these four phases as a basic framework for your career planning. The central element is always your professional goals. Therefore, adapt them to the phases as best as possible. Various questions can help you with this.
These questions will help you to draw up your career plan at the beginning of your professional career
In the entry phase, for example, it is crucial in which industry you see your future. Do you meet all the qualifications required for this? And if not, what opportunities do you have for further training?
Can you make a living from your intended career or would it cause you financial problems? To what extent does your career planning affect your family, your partner? Do compromises have to be found here?
The important thing here is to remain realistic! With utopian Objectives you're just putting yourself under pressure - you and your loved ones are taking a back seat. Don't forget, a healthy work-life balance helps you immensely to achieve your goals full of physical, mental strength and motivation.
Helpful questions for experienced professionals
If you already have both feet on the ground in your professional life, it is especially important to keep honest Reflect on whether you are satisfied with your current situation. Do you have the feeling that you haven't reached your goal yet and want to go even higher? Or are you perhaps even saying that you would like to scale back a bit from now on in order to have more time for your family and private life? Can you achieve your goals in your current company or are there obstacles in your way? Would you like to try something new and work as a career changer in a completely different industry?
What your career plan ultimately looks like depends largely on which of the four phases you are currently in. Newcomers often draw their plan steeply upwards. Those who have been in their careers for longer will instead tend to draw a zigzag line that moves upwards but also includes small steps backwards.
These small steps can, for example, be marked by family planning - after all, you don't want to miss out on your children growing up. But it can also be further training or a change of career that initially means a small retreat, but then gives the necessary momentum to climb steeply upwards again.
5 tips for professional success
Each defines professional success different. That's why, of course, the paths we all take to get there look completely different. Nevertheless, there are a few tips that each of us should take to heart in order to move forward unerringly. We have put them together for you!
1. take time for self-reflection on a regular basis
We have already mentioned it: Regularly asking essential questions helps you immensely to check again and again whether you are still on the right path and whether your career planning still fits your current goals and desires. How annoying would it be if you spent years working towards a goal that ultimately didn't make you happy at all? What comes out then is just the anger about all the lost time.
Is it at all important to you to belong to the top league of your industry or sometime to Managing Director of your company? Perhaps you are much more concerned about a balance between your private and professional life. Regularly check what is really important to you at the moment. Only when you are clear about this can you adjust your career planning accordingly and take the path that will lead you exactly there.
2. work on your mood management
Mood management? What is that again? Basically, the term is pretty self-explanatory: you manage your emotions. This means that you are in control of your emotions to such an extent that they do not negatively influence your professional performance.
The better you manage to separate your private and professional life, the more efficient you will be at work. And that's exactly what will move you forward. Don't worry, this doesn't mean a ban on emotions. Anyone who suffers a heavy blow of fate should and must be able to grieve. It's more about not letting yourself be distracted by little things in everyday life that are simply annoying.
Of course, you can briefly let your colleagues know why you might be having a bad day today. But don't take your frustration out on them and spoil everyone's day. Be professional and prove that small setbacks don't change your performance.
3. learn to deal with stress
Sometimes everything just gets to be too much, especially if you've gone a little overboard in your career planning. Stress is probably one of the biggest career killers. Just 6 % of Germans stated in a Study by ADP say they are never stressed. This figure speaks for itself.
Who permanently overwhelmed and doesn't step on the brakes in time, in the worst case scenario you'll ruin yourself. Of course, the big career will not come. Even if you find it hard not to work at the weekend because you think you're wasting valuable time - take breaks! It's only thanks to them that you stay productive.
Also, find outlets that will help you get rid of all the stress. From sports to creative hobbies to journal writing, anything is possible. The main thing is to clear your head and get back to work.
4. rely on smart time management
You can never have enough time, can you? Especially when you're fighting your way up the career ladder, it's often in short supply. Therefore, if you have a sophisticated time management, you have a clear advantage and manage to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
This does not mean that every minute has to be timed. It's more about using time effectively and not wasting it. If possible, plan in advance which tasks you have to do today and set time slots in which you will complete them. With these daily plans, you virtually push yourself and don't dwell too long on trivialities.
5. always develop yourself further
Career making is a process. And what distinguishes processes? That's right, progress. But how can that work if you stay put? Take the time to develop yourself personally and to get to know your strengths and weaknesses better.
What's holding you back and which of your traits will lead you to success if you keep building on them? Our free personality test helps you to find out exactly that. This will lay the foundation for your personal development. You can also be inspired by others who have already made the career that you also want. But make sure you don't become a copy.
Go your own way and build your own individual career that perfectly suits you and your lifestyle. Always stay open to new things and take advantage of opportunities to learn, because knowledge and experience are what drive your development. Need some support with your personal development? Our Coaching training is a great opportunity! You will learn valuable methods and tools that will support you on your way to the top.
Common mistakes that slow down your career
No career plan is flawless. Still, there are a few things you should keep in mind from the start to avoid getting in your own way. We've already talked about one of them: setting unrealistic goals. You want to aim high, and of course that's understandable. But often, especially early in your career, you tend to set your sights too high. A healthy realism is called for. We have summarized for you which gross mistakes can still put obstacles in your way:
- You only plan big steps and forget the small ones.
- You don't take stock after completing stages and adjust your longer-term career plan accordingly.
- You look too much to the left and right and lose sight of your own career plan.
- You're stretching the term "flexibility" way too far and barely sticking to your plan.
- You throw yourself into competitive battles out of overzealousness that you can't win yet and have to accept bitter setbacks.
Professional success does not happen overnight, but with structure and a solution-oriented approach, you can work effectively on your professional and private development. Our Coaching training offers you the complete package for your success. You'll learn to improve your decision-making, balance your work-life, and even help others navigate their way to success.