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A professional annual review

Michel Rothgaenger
Michel Rothgaenger

The year is coming to an end with unstoppable steps. For many, this is a time to look back on the past months with all their positive and negative aspects. We think of events from our private lives, people we have met or from whom we have said goodbye, professional challenges we have mastered or which have pushed us to the limits, or experiences that have left their deep mark on us. A look back opens - at least a lot of the time - the view forward, and sometimes even far forward. By looking back, we often identify good and not so good developments during the year and use this as a basis for our good intentions for the coming year.

Though this type of review might be common in our personal lives, be it in the form of New Year's resolutions or otherwise, we can also use such a review of for our professional path. The aim is to develop perspectives for our future career, identify what we want to achieve within the coming year and how to get there and how we want to incorporate our personal and professional life. So take some time to reflect and have a look at the following questions to guide you in your professional annual review.

Where was I at the beginning of the year and where am I today?

This question does not imply that you have to be at a different point today than you were at the beginning of the year. Sometimes further development in the job or a change of position is desirable for your career. At other times of your career it is more important to consolidate the position you had at the beginning of the year. The most important is, that you know for yourself what makes you satisfied. This allows you to see which professional goals you had set yourself and which of them you have achieved in the meantime. Also, ask yourself which goals have changed in the course of the year and what goals you want to maintain for the coming years. Remember, that these might not be fixed points of single tasks to be achieved, but can also be part of a longer process.

What were the highlights of the year?

Whether challenges that were already known at the beginning of the year, or surprising new topics that suddenly landed on your desk - there are certain things in your job that gave you particular pleasure, that you are proud of, that fulfilled you and pushed you forward, that made you grow and go beyond your limits. Perhaps you will learn from this what you are capable of, which people you can work with particularly well and which topics you would like to devote yourself to even more in the future. Use these highlights of your professional life to figure out what direction you want to follow in the future, or to decide that you are content at your current job as it continues to challenge you.

What hurdles and difficulties did I face last year?

Things don't always go smoothly, nor do they have to. We can do a lot to overcome difficulties, but sometimes the hurdles are just too big. In order to gain a better understanding of yourself and your strengths and weaknesses, it is important to identify which projects caused you difficulties at work. Even when you may not have been able to reach a satisfactory conclusion in the end, it is nevertheless a good starting point for further development. Because you learn from this: you can either accentuate your topics differently for the future, or you can change and optimize your approach to achieve a better result next time.
It is best if you take the time to answer these and similar questions in writing. This often helps to sort out the thoughts and come to concrete answers. In addition, you will then have a paper in your hand that provides a good basis for your next annual review. Your personal review will help you set goals, focus points and priorities for the coming year, to develop ideas and also to question yourself in your position, expectations and working methods. After all, in the end it is not about getting on the same hamster wheel every year, but about being fulfilled and satisfied. To achieve true contentedness in your life, it helps to first analyze the situation you find yourself in, and then to either optimize or change things as necessary based on a careful and critical analysis of your current professional situation.

You can reach our international team in Hamburg by phone at +49 40 53 799 1400 or by mail at

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