As a social worker, your goal is to support the people in your communities and the communities themselves in a quick and efficient manner. People are looking toward you to take on the various injustices that they are facing, whether they are social, racial, or otherwise motivated, and they want you to produce results quickly. This means that as a social worker, you might have time for a lot of things, but you might not have time to focus on the various long-term goals that would allow you to stop putting out fires and actually focus on creating long-term social change. However, setting goals, especially setting SMART goals, can actually be an extremely important tool in your arsenal. They can help you reach more people and give them and your life as a social worker much more value. Here’s what you need to know about how the world of goal-setting and the world of social work can collide to create something amazing. The benefits of SMART goals Setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based (SMART) goals can prevent you from making big goals that need a thousand extra steps in order to be attainable, but it can also prevent you from aiming too small and only taking baby steps toward your goals. For social workers, having these types of goals can still allow you to take care of the people and parts of the community that need your help, while also allowing you to keep your eye on the bigger picture. Goals such as enhancing the quality of care that your team provides, strengthening the connection between your team and the community they serve, and improving your own communication skills might seem like huge goals that would take forever to break down, much less actually accomplish. However, if you break them down into SMART goals, you can create a plan that will allow you to accomplish your goals without any trouble! An example of a SMART goal in action Let’s say that your goal is to improve the bonds between your team and the community. A good smart goal would be as follows. “To make sure that my team has a stronger connection to the community, we will attend five community events within the next six months. We will provide our resources and expertise to community members, while also working on forming a better relationship with local leaders.” Now, this goal is SMART because it is specific. You know exactly what the objective is, and how to achieve it. You can measure it: did you go to the five community events during the six months? You can achieve it by signing up to attend five events, and the goal is relevant to your social work and to improving the bonds between you and your community. Also, it is time-based because you’ve got six months to complete it. This goal gives you a plan and several immediate steps that you can take to make some noticeable progress. Also, the achievement of the goal is going to make the work that you do for the community much better. Making sure that your SMART goal is going to meet all of the above criteria is only going to help you become better at making, taking action on, and eventually reaching your goals. But why are you making these types of goals in the first place? Why are these goals so important to the field of social work? Why SMART goals provide value to social workers SMART goals are not only there to motivate you in the short term, but they are also designed to give you hope for the long term. It can be very easy to burn out on social work because while you might be helping individual people with their problems, you won’t be focused on taking care of the systems that are allowing these problems to affect so many people in the first place. However, if you are focusing on your action-oriented goals, you can start making the progress you need to take on some bigger problems and to make real social change in your community. Additionally, many social worker goals can be personal – for instance, the goal of improving your communication skills or learning a new way of doing things. Having personal goals and directly watching your skills rise up as you accomplish them can also add value to your personal life. Most people in the world want to grow and become better than they were yesterday, and improving themselves through goals is one of the best ways to do this. What does it take to become a social worker and set SMART goals? If you want to become a social worker in your local community, then you need to make sure that you are properly educated and prepared to take on the role of being a social worker. Being a social worker requires a lot of education, and you can get this education from a variety of sources. For example, you could enroll in an online MSW advanced track such as the one offered by Keuka College. This Master of Social Work degree is for people who have a Bachelor of Social Work and want to grow their career even further. This online program will allow you to work in a variety of fields, and take on general social work and positions of leadership. With all this knowledge, setting your SMART goals and making real change is going to be a breeze. So, don’t be afraid to focus on creating both personal and professional goals, because the more goals you set and achieve for yourself, the more social change you will be able to make in your community and the more people you will be able to help.