top of page

6 Tips For Successful Career Planning – How To Discover Your Ingredients For Career Success

Written by: Nada Matijevic, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Career planning can help secure a better and more successful career future, but it’s hard to plan and take action without clarity, confidence, and direction. Find out how raising your awareness can help you make better-aligned career decisions and plan to achieve career success on your terms.

view from the top of the mountain

Setting solid foundations before jumping into action can help you avoid common career mistakes and lead you to do more personally meaningful, fulfilling, and rewarding work.

What does career success mean to you?

Your career success objectives might fall under career development and career enhancement, career change, or managing transitions such as the transition to leadership or retirement. All require commitment, reflection, exploration, self-awareness, market awareness, direction setting and decision-making, planning and strategy, networking, and relationship-building.

Any investment of your time and resources towards your awareness-building is worthwhile as it will help you to navigate and market yourself more effectively into your desired future. Read my Blog for more on why it might be a good idea to start thinking about your career future. Doing your self-awareness work well can help you understand your brand and story's components, drivers, and unique value proposition. This can help you to differentiate yourself in the market and to gain a competitive advantage.

Tips on planning for career success

1. Avoid the conventional approach

Traditional methods to achieve career success are fraught with risks. Chasing other people’s versions of career success to impress them or others comes at the risk of neglecting your own needs and values. Pursuing shallow goals and hollow markers of success puts you at risk of one day finding yourself in a void that leaves you craving more out of your career and life despite achieving them all.

Taking a passive-reactive approach to where you end up in your career and life puts you at risk of giving away your power to other people and external forces to shape your future. You risk becoming disconnected from who you are and what you need to thrive and not being in control of where life takes you. As a result, you might feel stuck, unhappy, stressed, and even burnt out doing work you don’t enjoy and living a life you don’t love. It’s easy to stay stuck due to not knowing what to do next or how to get what you want. Sadly this has become the accepted way to live for many.

2. Don’t be stuck in a role that is making you miserable

Here are some compelling reasons why:

  • Not resolving a situation you’re unhappy with or overstaying a role that’s misaligned or one you’ve outgrown can be demoralising and leaves you doubting yourself and your capabilities

  • It affects not only your work performance, work enjoyment, and your career-and-life outlook but also your wellbeing

  • By waiting until your role becomes unbearable, you risk taking an emotional leap straight into the next available job or other means to escape

  • Leaving it too long to do something affects both your own and other people’s perceptions of yourself, and you’re more likely to miss opportunities for growth and advancement

Getting into a negative spiral of more of the same impacts your demeanour and optimism, further eroding your belief in yourself and your capabilities. The longer you leave it, the harder it can be to undo the damage this causes. If you want to create change, take a different approach.

3. Awareness is the first step

Raising your awareness before jumping into jobseeker mode can help you discover what will make you feel meaningfully engaged and successful, the type of work you can excel at, and what you need for more joy in your career and life.

This can help you avoid some common traps of career success that leave people disillusioned and disappointed. Building self-awareness first will help you to get clear and confident; about who you are and your capabilities, about what’s possible, and in making the best choices for the right reasons.

This will give you confidence and conviction in your decisions to address the problem, leave the security of your current situation or comfort zone, and go for what you want. Taking the time to see things from a new perspective can help you understand the situation and see possibilities. More about building your awareness follows.

Pause, reflect and reset

A strategy I like to use to build and utilise awareness is Pause. Reflect. Reset. It’s a circuit-breaker, insight-gathering, and re-adjustment phase that stops you from jumping straight into the “HOW TO” phase of getting the next role and making decisions you might later regret.

4. Pause

People spend more time planning holidays to get a break from work that drains them than planning a career and life that will motivate, energise and inspire them to do their best work.

Holidays can be an excellent time to think about your future and what you want, but leaving it until the holidays may be too late. Create the time and space to step off life’s treadmill or hamster wheel, so you can deeply reflect on your career and life journey. Create some dedicated, distraction-free time to focus on this regularly. You will empower yourself to be in control and to ensure life happens through you rather than waiting for life to happen to you.

Pause long enough to see and assess your situation from your current vantage point, to be aware of the micro nuances and big-picture perspective you might have missed. And to understand how you and the landscape have changed and evolved.

5. Reflect

Reflect on how far you’ve come from where you started, where you’ve been, how you’ve been showing up, and what you’ve learned. Reflect on the person you’ve become and how you’ve grown. Identify the clues pointing to your untapped potential and who you can be at your best. Reflect on the character-shaping lessons of your essential experiences, successes, and challenges from your past and present reality. Some questions you might ask yourself:

  • How has the past shaped me and where I am today?

  • What are the patterns, themes, and lessons learned?

  • How have my biggest challenges made me stronger today?

  • What makes me uniquely me?

  • What am I naturally good at and love to do?

  • What are my greatest strengths?

Read this Brainz article to see a different perspective and explore other possibilities.

Identify your natural resources and your compass of joy: your natural strengths, needs, drivers, personality traits, passions, interests, and preferences. In this INTHEBLACK Article, other professionals and I share how extra-curricular activities, hobbies, and interests can boost your career. Please read it and reflect on your own. Get clear on how you’re naturally wired to succeed and where your untapped potential lies.

6. Reset

Learn from the past and reset limiting beliefs, self-defeating behaviours, and habits.

  • Trust yourself and your capabilities

  • Find ways to boost your confidence by doing new things you love and are good at

  • Redefine who you are and who you’re capable of becoming

  • Question what else is possible

  • Change your belief system to empower you to achieve your goals and potential

  • Reconnect with your WHY: your needs, drivers, values, passions, interests, purpose, mission, and legacy

Get more precise about what you want, your ideal role, and what you want from your job, employer, workplace culture, and industry. When you’re clear on what you want and why you’ll be better able to focus your energy and labour market search and avoid a scattergun approach.

Bringing it all together

Career success is a highly personal experience. In planning for career success, there are many components to consider regarding what makes us succeed and feel successful.

Don’t leave it too long to do something if your career or work situation makes you miserable. Remember that change starts with awareness. So do this foundational work to avoid some common career mistakes and traps. Know what you want, what you’re capable of, and what your ideal role might look like. Then, you can explore possibilities, do your market research and evaluate options to make better-informed career decisions. Taking the time to get clear and focused makes it easier to put together a plan and prepare to market yourself with confidence and conviction.

I’ve found that people often struggle with not knowing whom to turn to or trust for sound career advice. Sharing your internal struggles and career challenges with others can leave you exposed and vulnerable. That’s where the expert, unbiased guidance of a career development professional, career mentor, career coach, or career consultant can help you to regain perspective and clarity about the situation.

If you’re after results, look for a comprehensive system and robust career coaching framework that supports your progress at every step. Also, look for user-experience testimonials to give you further peace of mind and reassurance.

Successful career planning takes a tailored approach to suit each unique situation. An expertly-guided process can help you to put yourself in control and makes it easier, less stressful, and more effective to be focused and achieve your career objectives.

Hire a career consultant or coach

A career consultant or coach can help guide and support you. From where to start and what to do next, clarity, direction and reassurance in decision-making, to getting you market-ready, having the plan, strategy, implementation, and development need support. At a high level, this is what my career coaching framework looks like. However, at a practical, granular level, it is a highly tailored process designed to support an individual’s needs, goals and objectives. What can you do right now? You can start raising your awareness about what’s going on with your career by taking this free online Career Health Check 1.


Nada Matijevic, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Nada Matijevic is a results-driven Career Consultant to professionals and executives who want to elevate their careers and lives. She provides coaching, guidance and tailored programs to enable people to identify their stand-out capacity for brilliance. She helps them define their career and life objectives, develop their personal brand and marketing toolkit and to chart and navigate their own path to their own version of success. Nada is passionate about helping her clients take on their most important leadership role of shaping a career and life they can thrive in so they are not dependent on external forces, or on chance, to determine their future for them.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page