A chalkboard with a circle around MY GOALS and arrows pointing to colorful sticky notes labled Artistic, Attitude, Career, Education, Family, Public Service, Pleasure, Physical, FInancial

A few weeks ago I got to attend a great on-location training by IL-Net called “Get to the Core of It: Integrating CIL Core Services for a Holistic Consumer Experience”.  (The captioned video will be posted soon.) All of the presenters are very experienced and provided very practical tips for implementing some best practices in direct services.

I was especially struck by some things said by Charlie Walters from ABLE South Carolina. He discussed setting a tone with the consumer as you begin the conversation about their goals. Here are some of his points:

  • Assist the consumer in identifying their strengths, resources, and potential barriers that may impact the person’s ability to function independently in the community.
  • Establish trust, and a sense of “us” addressing barriers since we both have a disability.
  • Empower and encourage the consumer from the outset by informing him or her about the importance of this process being consumer-driven and directed.
  • Utilize backwards planning, planning with a long-term vision and setting goals that will lead to that vision. When you start at the individual’s vision for the life they want, radical as that concept is, you are learning about their dreams.
  • Goals are worked out with the individual based on this vision and the effort they are willing to exert to get there.
  • Barriers to those goals can be part of the planning process — you need to sort out any functional limitations of the individual’s disability and the impact the disability has on his or her ability to function independently, and how to accommodate them.

Another presenter, Amina Donna Kruck, Talked about starting with the heart’s desire. It is not the center’s job to determine if these goals are “realistic”. It is our role to assist the person in breaking down the components of what they want most, their goal and its barriers so that the individual can see the path to their dreams. They may not know about accommodations that will assist with those functional limitations. It might be useful if to introduce a peer who has achieved a similar goal.

So the next time someone focuses on whether a dream is realistic, think about these processes for supporting the individual in achieving their dreams.  It is not our job to judge how realistic a goal is.  Instead our role is to assist the person in identifying steps they want to complete toward that dream.


Do life goals and dreams need to be realistic?

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