Select language
 

Transition to Adulthood

The Big Picture

What is a Transition Plan?

Early Planning is Key!

Well in advance, take time to anticipate the many practical elements of a future transition. Work to identify "who, what, when" for every aspect of change. Write it down. Revisit and revise your plans as time passes.

Transition Planning

What is a transition plan? Do I need one? Do I need several?

Transition plans are written documents describing your readiness to leave a set of services and either enter another or live independently. Transition planning is a process that brings you and those individuals directly involved in helping you prepare to enter a post-school, post-foster care, and/or post- residential placement environment. It is designed to ensure that you are given the necessary skills and services to make a smooth transition to adult life with as little interruption as possible. Unless the transition process is formalized, often little thought or planning is given to your future service or program needs. It is so important that you start planning for your future as early as possible.

Transition plans usually focus on at least one of the following three areas:

  • Post-secondary Education or Training
    You need to be involved in the development of your transition plan. In the education system, specifically, your transition plan is a section of your high school Individualized Education Plan (IEP). It outlines your strengths, abilities and goals for life after high school. It is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is developed by you and your IEP team.
  • Employment
    Make employment/work skills a priority in each IEP and think about jobs that you would like and what it would take for you to be gain employment in the field you are interested.
  • Independent Living/Community Participation
    Some questions to answer when thinking about Independent Living/Community Participation include:
    • Do I want to live entirely alone, and can I do that?
    • What kinds of support do I need to be able to live alone?
    • Do I want to live in a place that is very social with roommates and shared meals?
    • Would I like to live some place with supervised activities and more than 50 roommates living in groups in individual cottages?
    • Do I want to live in a situation where different parents buy or rent a group of apartments and their adult children live together?
    • Do I want to live with another family and be treated like a member of their family? Or do I just want to have a room there and be on my own?
    • Do I want to live with someone who does not have a disability or special health-care needs or with someone who does?
    • Do I have a friend that I would like to live with?

Once you have discussed some of the choices, you can begin searching for a place. Check out our housing information pack for more information on planning where you will live.

Check out this Calculate Your Services tool that was developed to ensure that any person with a disability can quickly and easily identify services and other support in New York State that might support moving you toward employment.

Setting Personal Goals

Set your goals on a number of levels:

  • First create your "big picture" of what you want to do with your life (or over, say, the next 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve.
  • Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals.
  • Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.

This is why the process starts by setting goals by looking at your lifetime goals. Then, you can work down to the things that you can do in, say, the next five years, then next year, next month, next week, and today, to start moving towards them.

Step 1: Setting Lifetime Goals
The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or at least, by a significant and distant age in the future). Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.

To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):

  • Career – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
  • Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?
  • Education – Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
  • Family – Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
  • Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
  • Attitude – Is any part of your mindset holding you back? Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.)
  • Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
  • Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy yourself? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)
  • Public Service – Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?

Spend some time brainstorming these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)

Step 2: Setting Smaller Goals
Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.

Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan.

Then create a daily to-do list of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals.

At an early stage, your smaller goals might be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your higher level goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.

Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.

Stay on Course
Once you've decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily basis.

Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience. (A good way of doing this is to schedule regular, repeating reviews using a computer-based diary.)

SMART Goals
A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we've included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:

  • S – Specific (or Significant).
  • M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
  • A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
  • R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
  • T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

For example, instead of having "to sail around the world" as a goal, it's more powerful to use the SMART goal "To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2015." Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!

Further Tips for Setting Your Goals
The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals:

  • State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively – "Execute this technique well" is a much better goal than "Don't make this stupid mistake."
  • Be preciseSet precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you'll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down – This crystallizes them and gives them more force.
  • Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you're working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
  • Set performance goals, not outcome goalsYou should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control! In business, these reasons could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, they could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck. If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.
  • Set realistic goals – It's important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (for example, employers, parents, media, or society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions. It's also possible to set goals that are too difficult because you might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.

Achieving Goals
When you've achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress that you've made towards other goals.

If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately. All of this helps you build the self-confidence you deserve.

With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:

  • If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goal harder.
  • If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goal a little easier.
  • If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so.
  • If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.

Largely Excepted from www.mindtools.com

Developed by the Council on Children and Families and Funded by the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council