Career Development ITFI

3 Strategies to Help You Set Goals for a Successful Fashion Career Path in 2024

Before making this episode, I thought about what helpful information or advice I could provide that not only would be beneficial for you as a professional, but that would arm you with the best tools to help you on your fashion career path in the new year. 

More so than other years, 2023 felt tough. The job market was unpredictable and left many people feeling hopeless, discouraged and angry. 

In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about 3 strategies to help you set goals for a successful fashion career path in the new year. It’s a mixture of things for both beginners and experienced professionals, so be sure to listen all the way through.

When it comes to your career, it’s important to have a roadmap or a plan to help guide you and keep you focused on your goals – especially when we’re faced with things like a tough job market, constant reminders from people all around us about their successes and new roles or simply when we feel discouraged and need some motivation to keep going. 

UNDERSTAND YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, CHALLENGES & INTERESTS

In order to have a successful fashion career path in 2024, the first thing you have to do is get a clear sense of what you want to actually achieve in your career and the steps you need to take to get there. One of the best things about starting a new year is that it gives you an opportunity to understand your career aspirations and set specific goals for the year ahead. 

If you’re not 100% sure of what you want your career goals to be in the new year, start by reflecting on your accomplishments and challenges this year. Take some time to think about what you’ve achieved in your career so far and what challenges you’ve faced. 

For example, let’s say you were able to get your first job in the industry this year as an assistant designer. It was so exciting and the best news of 2023. But now that you’ve had months to experience it, you realize that the position is not what you thought it was. You’ve struggled with particular assignments, like the techniques, while excelling at others like selecting fabrics, colors and details like buttons. 

By taking the time to reflect on your accomplishments and challenges, it can help you identify your strengths and areas for improvement, while also giving you a better sense of where you want to go in the future and ultimately, what you want to do.

While reviewing this past year and this job, maybe it will allow you to see that instead of being a designer, what you actually want to do is work with designers as a fashion stylist. 

If you’re still not sure what your career goals should be in 2024 after considering your accomplishments and your challenges, try to identify your core values and interests.

Start by thinking about what’s most important to you in your career. What values do you want to uphold in your work? What kind of work do you enjoy and find fulfilling? What do you want to achieve in your fashion career in the long run? Do you want to start your own fashion business or work for a specific company? 

Answering these questions can help you identify your long-term career goals and guide your decision-making as you move forward. In turn, clearly defining your long-term career aspirations can help you create specific goals to work towards. 

SET YOUR SMART GOALS

Once you’ve done this work and started to map out what your accomplishments, challenges, core values and interests are, it’s time to set your goals. 

When setting career goals, it’s important to be specific and to set goals that are achievable, relevant and have a clear timeline. 

My absolute favorite way of setting goals is using something I learned back in college and still incorporate into my planning and journaling every single January when I’m mapping out my goals for the year. This is called the SMART goal-setting method.

In essence, the SMART method is an acronym: the letters S,M,A,R,T all stand for a step you need to take within the framework which allows you to create specific, achievable and measurable goals. It can be particularly useful for professionals looking to set career goals because it helps to ensure that your goals are well-defined, realistic and obtainable while also helping you achieve your long-term objectives in the fashion industry.

Now, before I go into what each letter stands for, I’ve included a worksheet within this lesson that you can use to map out your career goals for 2024 using the SMART method. You can download your own copy here or by using the link at the end of this post and follow along as we go over the method itself. 

The “S” stands for Specific
Make your goals as specific as possible. It’s important to set specific goals because they are more focused and easier to work towards than general goals. 

When your goals are specific, you have a clear target to aim for and can take concrete steps to achieve them. This can help you stay motivated and focused while helping you increase your chances of success.

For example, consider the following two goals:

  • “I want to be successful in the fashion industry.”
  • “I want to become the lead designer at a fashion company within the next five years.”

The first goal is very general and doesn’t give you much direction. It’s hard to know exactly what you need to do in order to achieve this goal, plus it’s difficult to measure your progress towards it.

The second goal is much more specific. It gives you a clear target to aim for and a timeline to work within. It’s also easier to measure progress towards this goal because you know exactly what you need to achieve and when you need to achieve it by.

By setting specific goals, you can focus your efforts and resources on achieving a specific outcome, which can help you stay on track for your fashion career path plan.

It also helps to ensure that you have a clear and well-defined objective to work towards. A specific goal provides direction and focus, and helps you to understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve. It also makes it easier to measure your progress and determine when you’ve achieved your goal.


Next, the “M” in SMART stands for Measurable
It’s essential to create goals that you can measure within a specific timeline because it helps you track your progress towards your objective. When you are able to see that you are making progress towards your goals, it can give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated to continue working towards them.

On the other hand, if you set goals that are difficult or impossible to measure, it can be difficult to know whether you’re moving in the right direction or not. This can lead to frustration and may make it harder to achieve your goals.

Consider the following two goals:

  • “I want to improve my fashion design skills.”
  • “I want to complete a fashion design course within the next six months.”

The first goal is difficult to measure because it’s not clear what “improvement” means in this particular case. It’s hard to quantify whether you are making any progress.

The second goal gives you a clear target to aim for and a timeline to work within. You can track your progress by completing course assignments and working towards a final exam, plus you’ll know when you’ve achieved your goal once you complete the course.

By setting goals that you can measure progress towards, you can track your advancement and stay focused as you work towards your goals.

Measuring progress also helps you identify areas where you may be falling behind or where you need to focus more effort. This can allow you to adjust your approach and make changes to your plan as needed to help you stay on track and achieve your objectives.


Then, we head to “A” – which stands for Achievable

Set goals that are achievable and realistic given your current resources and skills. By setting goals that fall within these parameters, it increases your chances of actually achieving them. If you set goals that are too ambitious or unrealistic, you may become discouraged and lose interest or the will to continue working towards them.

Realistic goals also help you to stay grounded and focused on what is possible given your current resources and skills. While it’s important to challenge yourself and stretch your abilities, it’s also important to be realistic about what you can achieve given your current circumstances. If your goals are realistic and achievable, you are more likely to stay motivated and focused on achieving them.

If you set goals that are too difficult to achieve, you may become discouraged and lose all momentum to work towards them. On the other hand, if you set goals that are too easy, you may not challenge yourself enough and may not make the progress you desire.


From there, we go to the letter “R” which stands for Relevant
Make sure your goals are relevant to your long-term career aspirations and values. If you’re not passionate about a particular goal, it will be difficult to stay focused and keep working at it.

Goals that are relevant to your long-term career aspirations and values help to keep you motivated and focused on what is most important to you. When your goals align with your long-term career aspirations and values, you are more likely to feel a sense of purpose and meaning in your work, which can help you stay motivated and engaged.

On the other hand, if your goal is unrelated to your long-term aspirations and values, they become unimportant over time and this is where the sense of feeling “lost” comes in, causing you to lose sight of the end goal and causing an interruption in your fashion career path.

Goals should be relevant to your long-term career aspirations and values because they provide a sense of purpose and direction, and help you stay motivated and focused on what’s most important to you. When your goals are aligned with your long-term aspirations and values, you are more likely to be passionate about the work you put in and more likely to stay committed to putting in the effort required to achieve them.

For example, if your long-term career aspiration is to become a successful fashion designer, setting a goal to become a salesperson might not be particularly relevant or motivating. Instead, setting a goal to complete a fashion design course or to land a job at a fashion design company would be more relevant and motivating, because it aligns with your long-term career aspirations.

Setting goals that are relevant to your long-term career aspirations can help you stay motivated and focused on what is most important to you in your career while increasing your chances of success in the fashion industry.

 

The final letter in the acronym is “T” and that stands for Time-Bound
It’s crucial to set a timeline for when you want to achieve your goals because it provides a sense of urgency and helps you stay focused and motivated. 

When you have a clear timeline, you know how much time you have to achieve your goals, which can help you prioritize your tasks and focus on what’s most important. It allows you to have a clear deadline to work towards, which can help you stay on track and avoid getting distracted.

By setting a timeline, you can create a sense of urgency that helps you focus your energy and resources on achieving your goals in a timely manner. It also helps you measure your progress and make adjustments as needed. 

For example, if you set a goal to complete a fashion design course within the next six months, you can track your progress along the way and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that you meet your deadline.

Using the SMART goal framework helps to direct your actions so that they all contribute to reaching your goals. As you implement this framework, it may highlight where you could run into challenges. That allows you to plan and chart a detailed course that is prepared for obstacles.

Put this together and you’re left with a detailed goal-setting plan that keeps you focused and headed in the right direction towards the next step in the process.

CREATE A PLAN OF ACTION

Once you have identified your career goals and opportunities for growth, create a plan of action to help you achieve them. 

Using the information you created with the SMART method, first break your goals down into smaller, more manageable steps that you can take over the course of the year.

Large, long-term goals can be overwhelming, so it’s often helpful to break them down into smaller, more practical steps. This can help you make progress towards your goals on a regular basis and stay motivated as you work towards your larger objectives.

Next, you’ll want to identify the resources you need. Consider the skills and knowledge that are necessary to achieve your goals. Are there any gaps in your current skills that you’ll need to fill in order to move forward? If so, research different education and training options, such as courses, workshops, or degree programs, and determine which ones are most relevant and valuable for your career aspirations. 

Additionally, be proactive in seeking out opportunities for growth and development. This might include taking on new responsibilities at work (if you have a job), seeking out new learning opportunities or networking with others within the fashion industry.

You’ll also want to do some research on the fashion industry itself and the job market to get a better sense of the skills and knowledge that are in demand. This can help you identify the resources you’ll need to build your skills and knowledge in order to be competitive in your field.

By considering key things you’ll need to achieve your goals, such as education, training, funding, or equipment, you’ll have a stronger foundation and an overall more realistic plan to help you achieve your career goals in the new year.

From there, create a timeline for when you want to achieve each of your goals. This can help you stay focused and provide a sense of urgency to get things done. It’s also important to think about potential obstacles or challenges you may face as you work towards your goals, as there will always be setbacks. Identifying strategies for overcoming these obstacles will help you stay on track.

Finally, review and adjust your goals and plan of action regularly. This is incredibly important to ensure they are still relevant and aligned with your values and interests, especially as time passes and as your experience within the industry grows. 

Don’t be afraid to adjust your goals or plan on your fashion career path as needed to reflect your changing needs and circumstances.

IN THE END…

By setting goals and creating a solid plan, you can stay focused and inspired as you work towards your fashion career path. The new year is a great time to take a step back and think about your short and long-term goals within the industry and your career. Using these strategies will help you understand exactly what you should be working towards, how to achieve it and how long it should take. 

Of course, there are things that could be out of your control, but the idea here is to have a solid overall plan on the things you do have control over. Things such as professional career development by way of courses, workshops or mentorships or specific examples of in-demand jobs that align with your skills, core values and interests.

Some additional things to keep in mind as you set your goals for the new year:

    1. Incorporate rewards as you reach milestones for any goal – these could be things like treating yourself to a mani/pedi or a fancy dinner 
    2. Always start with the “why” for your goals, as in, “Why am I setting this goal?” – this will ensure that you’re always pursuing goals that speak to your heart and align with your experience and knowledge – not just following the plan you made at the start of the year
    3. Be realistic with your goal setting and make sure they fit your abilities and values – by not doing this, you will start to feel uninspired when you find that there are parts of your plan that are just not possible. Keep things flowing and positive by setting realistic goals
    4. Keep a calendar, either virtual or physical, to track time and measure progress – this can be as simple as a Google Doc, a spreadsheet or an app that does it all for you like Strides.
    5. Acknowledge setbacks, but don’t dwell on them – they happen to all of us, but the key here (and the difference between people that achieve their goals and those that don’t) is that even through the setbacks, they keep going.

IN THE END…

By setting goals and creating a solid plan, you can stay focused and inspired as you work towards your fashion career path. The new year is a great time to take a step back and think about your short and long-term goals within the industry and your career. Using these strategies will help you understand exactly what you should be working towards, how to achieve it and how long it should take. 

Of course, there are things that could be out of your control, but the idea here is to have a solid overall plan on the things you do have control over. Things such as professional career development by way of courses, workshops or mentorships or specific examples of in-demand jobs that align with your skills, core values and interests.

Some additional things to keep in mind as you set your goals for the new year:

  1. Incorporate rewards as you reach milestones for any goal – these could be things like treating yourself to a mani/pedi or a fancy dinner 

  2. Always start with the “why” for your goals, as in, “Why am I setting this goal?” – this will ensure that you’re always pursuing goals that speak to your heart and align with your experience and knowledge – not just following the plan you made at the start of the year

  3. Be realistic with your goal setting and make sure they fit your abilities and values – by not doing this, you will start to feel uninspired when you find that there are parts of your plan that are just not possible. Keep things flowing and positive by setting realistic goals

  4. Keep a calendar, either virtual or physical, to track time and measure progress – this can be as simple as a Google Doc, a spreadsheet or an app that does it all for you like Strides.

  5. Acknowledge setbacks, but don’t dwell on them – they happen to all of us, but the key here (and the difference between people that achieve their goals and those that don’t) is that even through the setbacks, they keep going.

Phew! That was a heavy lesson! But this is the type of work you should be putting at the start of each year to ensure that you reach those big, amazing goals in your fashion career. 

I do it without fail every single January and have been doing it for the past 5 years. The difference I’ve seen in my career by doing this is life-changing and it’s all because it allows you to have an intentional plan set in place that you can refer back to anytime. 

I want the same thing for you in this new year and always. 

Get ready to step into 2023 with confidence and power knowing you are working towards a solid career goal from January 1st: a goal that reflects your interests, your dreams and is attainable in every way. 

A goal that will bring you that much closer to your dream fashion industry career. 

Happy New Year and I will see you in 2023!

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