People who take responsibility for planning their development and actively seek growth opportunities tend to have a more successful and fulfilling career life. 

Earlier this month Industrial Psychologist Ashley Motene talked us through how to identify and work through Career Stagnation in our blog titled “How to Overcome Career Stagnation and Thrive”. 

Today we pick up from where we left off by sharing some essential tools that will equip you in developing and charting a successful career path. However, before you can even start adopting and adapting any tips, you must define success for yourself. Ask yourself what success means and looks like for you? – Is it having a high-paying, high profile position? 

Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself and know your why, it becomes easier to not only chart an achievable and successful career development path but also commit to the plan. 

Positive Mindset

When committing to developing your career you must start with a positive mindset. Believing in your ability to not only make things happen but also achieve your goals and dreams is half the battle. 

“Everything you want to achieve in your life starts in your mind.” Says Personal Development Coach Dr Nozi Mjoli. “Your mindset is responsible for determining your ability to be successful. If you are currently dissatisfied with the quality of your life, the first place to look for causes of your problem is your mindset,” adds Mjoli. 

 Know Thyself

Before even considering following a career route, you must get to know yourself. Sadly, a large majority of people go through life by trying to follow a “well-established” pattern but they don’t even like what they do or even worse they may not even realize other things they are good at or enjoy.

To avoid falling into this awful trajectory, you must identify your dreams and goals. Not your parents, not your supervisor or mentor, yours. Take your time. 

Career coach Eva Wislow strongly advises that one does an in-depth introspection – “think about the connection between your inner desires and your rational goals. They have to match. Otherwise, you will not be truly fulfilled in your professional life. Identifying with your goals takes some time and effort, but it is a truly important process in any successful person’s journey.”Said Wislow


Make a list of career development goals that you want to achieve within the upcoming year. Once you have made the list, honestly rate your commitment level by answering the question, what are you willing to endure to achieve said goal? Determining your commitment level to each goal helps set realistic expectations.

Set aside a minimum of 15 minutes a day to think about your goals. This will reinforce your commitment to the process and help fuel your motivation.   

 Take Responsibility for Your Life

Wislow says that a big difference between people who have a mediocre career journey versus a successful one is that oh so tiresome word responsibility. 

“Even though you know the concept, you may not apply it every day. Whenever something bad happens, you need to assume it. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, being there, the previous choices you’ve made (like trusting someone), these are still all factors that have been influenced by your thoughts and actions.

Start assuming responsibility for all of your actions and never blame anyone for your mistakes. That’s the worst thing someone can do. Do not take things personally, and be calm.” Adds Wislow

Create solutions

Anyone can make their problems their manager’s problems. Successful employees tend to be more focused on solving problems. If you don’t have the authority to give the final verdict on a problem relevant to your work or department, then make sure you offer solutions to those in leadership. Having a problem-solving mindset is a skill that will not only help you progress in your career but in life.

 Learn From the Journey

Instead of just focusing strictly on the results of your accomplishments, take time to note and enjoy the seemingly small milestones to achieving success. Allowing yourself to celebrate the small victories along the journey changes your perception and experience. Doing this will not only help you learn new skills but also discover exciting things about yourself.

Keep to the Schedule

Plan and track your goals in a calendar. Having something tangible to look at and follow is a great way to stay motivated. Give yourself challenges according to your calendar, such as “by the end of this month, I will know how to use a certain software” or “I will have registered for this short course.” Even if you do not achieve the goal on time, there will be a starting point in your calendar and you will see progress.

Enjoy the Journey

There’s a difference between focusing on your goals and obsessing over them. While you want to be productive it is also important that you enjoy the journey so that you can stay motivated to keep going but don’t overwork yourself. Thinking about your goals all the time can cause burnout.

The journey to discovering your capabilities as you learn new things can be both exciting and fun! This is why it’s important to ensure that you include some light and fun goals – having an emotionally-positive experience keeps the momentum going without losing perspective.

While these tips are helpful for everyone, it’s important to personalise each one. Remember, while your journey may have some similar checkpoints it will not look exactly the same as another person. What brings you joy is different to what brings those whom you admire and love. The people most important to you want to see you live a joyful purposeful life and your career impacts your overall wellbeing in a significant way.  

Recommended Resources: 

 ‘The Sitdown’  with Executive and Career Coach Vumile Msweli

Gearing Up For A Career Change