by Phyllis Babrove, MSW, LCSW
When I went back to school at the age of 40, I had a husband and four children at home. Although my family was my priority, I was also determined to achieve my goal of earning a degree. Having never been an organized person, I learned in the beginning that I had to make some changes along those lines. So, I learned about setting goals.
Short-term goals are those goals we have to attain along the way toward reaching the long-term goals we have set for the future. When I worked with high school students, I would ask them where they saw themselves in 10 years, in 20 years, and so on. This would encourage them to set the short-term goal of finishing high school and then to set the long-term goal for what they wanted to do with their lives. It is a question that we can all ask ourselves. Everyone has a plan and a dream for what they are trying to achieve. That’s what the long-term goal is.
Okay, so what can we accomplish by setting goals? Short-term goals help keep us focused on the outcome we are striving for without allowing us to feel overwhelmed. Reaching that first goal gives us the motivation to continue working toward the second one, and so on.
As students, short-term goals allow us to be in control of planning the path toward obtaining the degree and career that we want without setting ourselves up for failure. This is especially true in today’s world, where life is so hectic. An example for students might be the reality of taking 18 credits a semester when we work, have families, and have other daily responsibilities. There may be alternative ways to take some of the classes that would better accommodate individual schedules, such as distance learning or weekend classes, rather than in the traditional classroom setting. Working with the social work program advisor and mapping out the short-term goals for each year can assist in alleviating stress and ensuring success.
There are many avenues open to social workers for long-term goals in regard to which field they want to enter. Examples are clinical settings, schools, hospitals, and child welfare. Internships, speaking to people in those fields, and research can help you to make those decisions.
Finally, how do we actually go about setting goals? I recommend doing some research on the Internet. There are many general resources available that provide the tools to set attainable goals for students and professionals. Two articles I found online are as follows:
There are also associations for social workers that provide helpful information for both students and professionals. Many university campuses have Bachelor of Social Work Student Associations and Master of Social Work Student Associations, which offer helpful information for students. Professional organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers are also excellent resources.
I hope that you find these resources beneficial in both your years as a student and later as a professional. I wish you the best in achieving your short-term and long-term goals. Where do you see yourself in 10 years, in 20 years, and so on?
Phyllis M. Babrove, MSW, LCSW, recently completed her first novel and is hoping to have it published. She enjoys spending time with her family and likes to travel to New England with her husband of 45 years.
Additional Resources for Goal Setting
- 7 Apps to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Build New Habits
- 5 Goal Setting Apps for Entrepreneurs
- 11 Best Tools for Setting and Tracking Goals
- Social Work: Goal Setting (on Pinterest)