About us 2
Our Mission / Our Philosophy /
The Scope of Our Activities /
About the Workshop 5
Overview / Purpose / Objectives /
Participating Institutions / Programme /
Sample Ground Rules
Future Projects and Activities 8
About the Book 9
How this Book was Written / How to Use this Book
Session 1: Define Success for Yourself 10
Session 2: “Do not DIS my ABILITIES”: Understand your strengths and 14
weaknesses. Play to your strengths.
Session 3: Set Personal, Academic and Career Goals 28
Session 4: Develop Strategies to Reach Your Goals 33
Inside Back Cover: Additional Resources for Your Success
Endless Possibilities exists to assist people with disabilities:
Become who they are as individuals and to determine their own destiny;
Live without being a burden to anyone and achieve maximum possible
independence, preserving as much dignity and respect as possible; and
Participate fully in their communities.
The philosophy of Endless Possibilities is based on the scripture 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12,
“… make it your ambition and definitely endeavour to live quietly and peacefully,
to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you, so that
you may bear yourselves becomingly and be correct and honourable and
command the respect of the outside world, being dependent on nobody [self-
supporting] and having need of nothing.” (Amplified Bible)
Thus, Endless Possibilities operates by the following principles:
It is the business of people with disabilities to promote the harmonious living between
themselves and the able-bodied [live quietly and peacefully].
It is not the business of people with disabilities to regulate the behaviours of the able-
bodied toward them or to allow these behaviours to affect them in any way [mind your
To enjoy the right to live an independent life one should engage in gainful activity using
whatever ability they have [work with your hands].
Through the individual efforts of people with disabilities trying to emancipate
themselves will they gain true freedom as the outside world will begin to admire them
and give them a place in society [so that you may bear yourselves becomingly and be
correct and honourable and command the respect of the outside world].
It is up to people with disabilities to ensure that all their needs are met even where
there is no outside support [being dependent on nobody, self-supporting and having
need of nothing].
The main objective of Endless Possibilities is to promote an increased level of self-sufficiency
among people with disabilities in Zimbabwe with a particular emphasis on tertiary education
students who fall in this category. Accordingly, Endless Possibilities promotes the education,
economic independence, independent living and social integration of people with
Education — formal, informal and non-formal education for personal, professional
and public success.
Economic independence — employment and entrepreneurship to enhance financial
Independent living — acceptable options for everyday living in an integrated
community and/or personal support depending on the degree of impairment.
Independent living does not necessarily mean disabled people doing everything for
themselves nor does it necessarily mean being able to live on your own.
Social integration — active involvement and participation in everyday activities from
family to international level.
The Scope of Our Activities in Zimbabwe
Endless Possibilities mainly works with young adults with disabilities from tertiary institutions
in Zimbabwe. Since inception, in 2010, Endless Possibilities has run various training and
empowerment programmes for students from the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State
University and Mutare Polytechnic College.
Endless Possibilities is run by a committed group of young volunteers with assistance in the
area of strategic planning and the mentoring of members given on a need basis by a pool of
mature and experienced professionals. Below are photographs and brief biographic
information on members of The Team.
LLM International &
European Human Rights;
MA Leadership &
Banking & Finance
Banking; Advertising &
ICSA, LCCI Diploma in
Diploma in Hotel
Management; Diploma in
Tourism & Hospitality;
Media; Arts & Entertainment
MA Leadership &
Banking, Advertising &
Media, Arts & Entertainment
JASPER MHISHI VIMBAI HWACHA MARLVIN MUTIZE KELVIN MUTIZE
Diploma in Business
Management; BA English &
Diploma in Business and
Administration; Diploma in
Marketing; Diploma in
Information & Technology
Retail; Law; Civil Society;
TAWANDA KADZOMBE GIFT TENGATSITSI NDABAMBI
About the Workshop
Through this workshop, Endless Possibilities will create a platform for students to learn and
apply goal setting principles for their personal, academic and career advancement. Highly
interactive, the workshop will allow participants to share ideas among themselves and with
the facilitators, broadening their understanding and appreciation of taught concepts.
To reinforce self-confidence and capacity for overcoming challenges of impairment in all
areas of their life.
To equip students with goal setting skills and assist them in developing individual
migration paths with a particular emphasis on personal, academic and career
To help students create tracks to run on – a path to follow – so they know where
they are going and how to get there.
To teach students to take responsibility for their own success.
To make students aware of their strengths so they can begin to take advantage of
them and use them in maximizing on available opportunities.
To make students aware of their weaknesses so they can begin to improve them
and turn them into strengths.
The proposed workshop will be attended by the following institutions:
University of Zimbabwe
Midlands State University
Mutare Polytechnic College
Mutare Teachers' College
0730 Registration and Breakfast
0830 Welcome Remarks & Introduction
0900 Session 1: Define Success for Yourself
0930 Session 2: “Do not DIS my ABILITIES”: Understand your strengths
and weaknesses. Play to your strengths.
1030 TEA BREAK
1045 Session 3: Set Personal, Academic, and Career Goals
1115 Session 4: Develop Strategies to Reach Your Goals
1145 Session 5: Keep Your Expectations High
1215 Session 6: The F* Word
1230 Groups; Instructions; Announcements
1345 Consultations and Group Discussions
1600 Round-up, Recap, Question and Answer, Evaluation,
Sample Ground Rules
Sample Ground Rules
Below are sample ground rules for the workshop. Discuss these sample ground rules at the
beginning of the workshop with participants and let everyone agree on which ones to adopt
and which ones to ignore. Also ask participants to suggest any additional ground rules.
However, try to limit the number of ground rules to 12 or less.
1. Punctuality: Arrive on time to each workshop session. Arriving late is a sign of
disrespect to the trainer and your fellow participants.
2. No Disturbances: Cell phones should be turned off at the beginning of the workshop
and should remain off until the end, except during breaks. Avoid side conversations – if
you are unclear about the topic being discussed or the instructions, please ask the
facilitator to clarify.
3. Respect Others: Respect each other, yourselves, and the trainer. Do not speak when
someone else is speaking. Listen actively. The trainer will be facilitating the discussions
with your assistance.
4. Participation: You are your own best resource. Much of the content of the training will
be coming from you. Each one of you brings a wealth of experience to the program.
The workshop can only be successful if it is a two-way process and if everyone
participates fully. Give everyone a chance to contribute and encourage others to do so.
5. Agree to Disagree: During this workshop everyone must feel free to express their
opinions and concerns. Please view frank discussions about controversial issues as
healthy exchanges rather than personal attacks. There will be tolerance of differences
in approaches and strategies. Everyone should contribute to a safe/non-judgemental
6. Ask Questions: There are no stupid questions. If you do have a question you don't
want to ask in front of others, ask it privately during a break. Please do not think that
any question that you may have is unimportant.
7. Give your honest feedback: At the end of today you will be given a form for your
feedback that will help make this training better next time. Please be honest!
Constructive criticism is appreciated and is the only way that we can improve.
Future Projects and Activities
I believe that the Goal Setting for Personal, Academic &Career SuccessWorkshop is the
beginning of a series of workshops designed to equip people with disabilities with skills
necessary for them to take charge of their lives. I envision at least two more workshops in this
The second workshop will focus on Mentorship and Peer Support. It will empower
participants to enter into and manage healthy mentorship relations as protégés, mentors and
peer-support partners. It will also introduce participants to the concept of supported decision
making, something that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
favours over substituted decision making or guardianship.
The third workshop will focus on Communication and Self Advocacy. It will explore
effective communication skills as a prerequisite for success in every aspect of life. Participants
will also explore their rights and how to be a self-advocate in a number of situations.
The dates of the second and third workshops have not yet been determined. However, it is our
hope that everyone that attends the first workshop gets an opportunity to attend the other two
More workshops may be developed from the feedback that we anticipate to receive during
the consultations and evaluation sessions. Our deepest desire is to design programmes and
activities that meet the needs of those we serve. We, therefore, take your feedback seriously.
In addition to these workshops, we have begun to prepare for the Endless Possibilities
Challenge 2014. It is scheduled to be held in September and October 2014. The competition
will reinforce many of the things taught in the goal setting workshop.
You will be advised of more future events in due course.
About the book
How this book was written
The content of this book is not original. Most of it was taken from an online mentorship
manual by Sheryl Burgstahler of the University of Washington. She has granted readers the
permission to copy and use this material for non-commercial purposes. As a not-for-profit
organisation, Endless Possibilities offers its services to people with disabilities at no cost and
none of this material shall be sold to workshop participants or facilitators. This book shall be
distributed free of charge. Other sources used to write this book include goal setting material
that I downloaded from the internet as well as my own writings.
How to use this book
This book may be used by both workshop facilitators and participants. For workshop
facilitators, this book may serve as a guide for what to include in their presentations. What
they choose to include depends on what they deem is relevant for their session, time
constraints, their experience and their creativity. Hence, facilitators are not expected to strictly
base their presentations on the content of this book or to cover all of it if they decide to do so.
The objective of the workshop is to introduce participants to the issues that are covered in this
book and this book should not be a restriction on the facilitators.
Although this book is being compiled for facilitation at a 1-day workshop with many
participants, it may also be used for facilitation at shorter sessions in small group gatherings.
For example, one may decide to hold 1-2 hour weekly or bi-weekly meetings with a small
group of individuals and work through each topic as they go along. Again, they may choose
which issues to discuss with the group and exclude those that they feel are not relevant to the
Participants can work through the activities in this book during the time set aside for group
discussions. Obviously, they will not be able to do all the activities during this time therefore
they are encouraged to finish these activities at home, by themselves or as small groups. For
maximum impact, we encourage participants to do as many activities as possible and to put
what they have learnt in practice. We also encourage them to share what they have learnt
and how they are going to apply what they have learnt in their lives with someone who will
encourage them to achieve their goals.
1 Sheryl Burgstahler, 'Creating an E-Mentoring Community: How DO-IT does it, and how you can do it, too'
(University of Washington, 2006).
Define Success for Yourself
“Life is not so much a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes of playing a poor hand well.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
Success means different things to different people. For some, positive family relationships
and friendships are most important. For others, academic and career achievements weigh
heavily in their definition of success. Some measure success primarily in religious aspects of
their lives. Clearly, “success” is a subjective concept, unique to the individual and related to
many aspects of our lives—personal, social, spiritual, academic, and professional.
Success means different things to different people.
How do you define success for yourself?
Learning from successful experiences
The following statements about success were made by people with a variety of disabilities.
For me, a successful life is living comfortably and satisfied. I don't need to be rich,
just have enough money to get what I need and a few things that I want. I would
like to have a good job that I enjoy doing and live in a decent-sized apartment with
my husband and kids. As long as I have my family and we can live well, I'll be
satisfied. This will be when I feel I can say I have achieved success.
Success is pursuing what you want. Even when you fail or when setbacks occur, to
choose to continue pursuing something is a success on its own. If you then happen to
accomplish what you set out to do, that's another success. But, always, you must keep
trying, keep your goals in mind, and give your best. Then, even if things don't turn out
the way you hope, you have succeeded.
The wonderful thing in this world is not where we are, but rather in what direction we
are moving. My master's degree is a nice symbol of many challenges overcome and
achievements attained. However, the times I've touched another person's life are even
more important to me and confirm that I'm successful.
I live my life by the SABAH (Skating Association for the Blind & Handicapped) motto: “I
CAN do it, I CAN skate.” Learning how to ice-skate changed my life forever. I am
happier and healthier in every aspect of my life.
To me success is knowing and understanding yourself, acceptance, and love
Imagine being eighty years old. At that point in your life how do you think you would evaluate
how successful your life has been?
Finding your goals for success
One successful person in an online discussion about definitions of success said:
2Success may be when you educate the educators about your impairment . Or achieve
the National Honor Society. Or a date with the cute guy/gal. A homeless person's success
might be finding a permanent shelter. To a college graduate, starting work. To someone
working at a company, success might be attaining the CEO's position. Or success might
be just getting through today. (adult with mobility and speech impairments)
What specific goals for success relate to your life?
Success and risk taking
Successful people do not succeed all the time. They tend to experience many setbacks and
failures, perhaps more than less successful people because they take more risks. Failing to
take action minimizes our opportunities for success, and deprives us of a chance to learn from
our experiences, and to lead self-determined lives.
Thomas Edison's teachers said he was “too stupid to learn
anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-
productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful
attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How
did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I have not failed
1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to not
make a light bulb.”
Discuss some of the risks associated with your goals and how you can manage them.
Success and self-determination
Successful people know that they do not have control over everything in their lives. However,
they can make choices and determine the course for the most important aspects of their
lives.Setting and achieving goals provides a way for you to become more self-directed and
independent. Self-determination is essentially being able to make choices and decisions
about one's own life without any more support than necessary.
2 Replaced the word 'disability' with 'impairment' in line with the social model of disability; disability = barriers,
impairment = loss or difference of body function.
According to Wehmeyer (1999), self-determination emerges when individuals learn and use
aspects of self-determination such as choice-making, problem-solving and others listed
below. In addition, being in an environment that supports choice and student-involvement is
important. Frequent experiences that involve self-determined principles are important.
Below are some definitions of aspects of self-determination that influence goal setting.
Choice making is simply the selection of one thing from an array of options.
Decision making involves weighing the possible alternatives to any situation or
problem and then making a choice.
Problem solving is the process of solving some situation or dilemma whose
solution is not immediately known.
Self-Monitoring and self-reinforcement support being able to tell if one is doing
what is needed, and if so, providing some way to reward oneself, either with a
feeling of accomplishment or an external reward.
Some things to remember about success
Success can be achieved by everyone.
Success means different things to different people.
Success should be related to a person's own personal belief system and values.
Success can be measured in specific outcomes, as a process, or as a state of mind.
Standards for success can be related to personal, social, spiritual, academic, or
Success can be defined for small, short-term goals, for overall life achievements,
and for steps along the way.
Self-determination—being able to make and act on important decisions in your
life—is a measure of success.
Successful people with disabilities accept disability as one aspect of who they are,
but they do not allow their disabilities to define who they are or to dictate their
goals in life.
Successful people are socially competent. They make connections with others and
Some affirmations (positive statements) from successful people with disabilities are listed
below. Read each statement and think about whether it applies to you now.
I know what success means to me.
I use my own definition of success to measure my achievements.
I can achieve success.
I am self-determined.
I have a positive attitude.
I have a sense of purpose in my life.
I have a sense of humour.
I have control over the most important aspects of my life.
I can make friends, and I value my friendships.
I am sensitive to the needs of others.
Select one of these statements. Tell us what you can do and how others could help you
make this statement stronger in your life.
“Do not DIS my ABILITIES”:
Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Play to your strengths.
"That some achieve great success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well."
Understanding yourself provides the foundation for taking self-determined actions. It is a key
to success. To know yourself means to be aware of your strengths, weaknesses, needs,
interests and preferences. Self-awareness is essential for developing goals that reflect
personal desires and for making informed decisions. Valuing yourself leads to positive self-
esteem. The belief that you are part of something larger and more enduring than daily
struggles can provide the strength required to persevere when life presents its inevitable
People often make judgments and decisions
about what they think people with disabilities
can and cannot do based on their physical
appearance. However, people with
disabilities oftentimes have a way of
surpassing people's expectations of them
and proving that they are more able than they are thought to be. For example, people with
disabilities have proved their abilities in some of the following ways.
People with visual impairments can pursue successful careers as lawyers, lecturers,
music teachers and marketing consultants, to name but a few careers, with the use of
technology. They can also do manual jobs such as making bricks and tiles.
People with hearing impairments are often successful in noisy jobs, such as panel
beating, which may have a negative effect on hearing people. Careers as different as
forestry, graphic art, medical technology and banking are also successfully pursued by
hearing impaired people.
People with physical impairments are successful in many careers including teaching,
social work, business management and many others. Stephen Hawking is one of the
greatest scientists the world has ever known, yet he is quadriplegic and can only speak
with the aid of a computer. He freely admits that he has reached the top in his field
because of and not in spite of his impairment.
People with disabilities tend to also be associated with the following traits, which may
contribute to their success as employees or entrepreneurs:
Creative Problem Solving — The same ingenuity that enables a wheelchair user to
retrieve the Froot Loops from the top shelf in the supermarket can be used to effectively
deal with business dilemmas.
Flexibility — People with disabilities are accustomed to adapting to the everyday
changes that come with disabling conditions. These same strategies can be used in
business to adapt to constantly changing market forces.
Grace Under Fire — The ability to handle stressful situations with grace and dignity
without compromising one's principles is invaluable in business. Living in a disabling
environment is the perfect practice ground for refining this skill.
Persistence — People with disabilities are not accustomed to giving up easily, and this
persistence translates well into the world of business.
Sense of Humour — It is nearly impossible to live with impairment without developing
a sense of humour. Whether you are dealing with impairment or a business issue -- a
good sense of humour helps keep things in the right perspective.
Willingness to Ask for Help — People with disabilities understand that accepting
help from others can actually make a person more self-sufficient. The same is true for a
Resourcefulness — People with disabilities have learnt how to make the most of two
of life's most precious resources--time and money. In business terms, this is called
Beyond these characteristics, each individual has his or her strengths and weaknesses that
can enable him or her to succeed in various careers. Below are some people with disabilities
that have changed the world in spite of or because of their impairments:
Louis Braille (blind), at age fifteen, invented the six-dot Braille system that is enabling
millions of visually impaired people to read and write as clearly as people with clear
Albert Einstein (learning disability) could not talk until he was three and could not
read until he was eight, but was the greatest scientist of the twentieth century and
notable physicist of all time.
Michael Bolton (deaf) is a famous pop and rock singer.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (polio) was the 32nd President of the United States of
America and played a big role during World War II. Roosevelt eventually aided the poor
and un-employed of America and restored order at various times during his
Presidency. He was also the only President to ever get elected 4 years in a row mostly
because of his help for the recovery of the economy.
Richard Branson (learning disability) is the founder and chairman of London-based
A personal factor that has been identified as a characteristic of successful college students
with disabilities is “acceptance of disability,” suggesting that successful students understand
the impact of their impairments and accept them as something they must deal with in their
daily life. For example, one successful college student with a mobility impairment said:
Clearly, disabilities can be obstacles. However, it's important to focus on obstacles
that problem solving can surmount. Sometimes trade-offs do exist. I once wanted to go
into biochemistry, but my lack of fine-motor skills and general distrust of lab partners
made me realize that I wanted something I could do on my own—hence, history-
philosophy. Admittedly, I rerouted, but for those who are determined to be biochemists
and such, most obstacles can be overcome with abilities.
Share a challenge in your life that you have to
overcome, or work around, in order to achieve
Trying New Things
You can't learn about all of your abilities and interests if you don't try new things. Trying new
things can increase your confidence and self-esteem or help you feel good about yourself. It is
also important to try new things because they may turn out to things you really enjoy.
Self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself. This can be important when you are
experiencing big changes or starting something new. Having low self-esteem may hold you
back from trying new things because you might not feel like you can do it.
Tell us about something you tried and then developed an interest in.
Students with disabilities are often discouraged from pursuing challenging careers such as
those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Why do you think this is
the case? Do you think students with disabilities should be discouraged from pursuing these
fields? Have you been encouraged or discouraged in STEM areas of study?
Identifying your likes and dislikes
You will spend a long time in school and at work. Building on things that you like to do and
learn about is one step towards a fulfilling life. Give some thought to your likes and dislikes.
Think about how you would complete each partial sentence below.
1. One thing I really like to do is:
One thing I really dislike doing is:
2. One activity I really like at school is:
One activity I don't like at school is:
3. The subject I like most at school is:
The subject I like least at school is:
4. One activity I really like for recreation is:
A recreational activity I don't like is:
5. Something I like to do with my friends is:
One thing I don't like doing with my friends is:
6. An activity I like to do when I'm alone is:
One activity I don't like to do alone is:
Share with the group a job you might enjoy because of your likes and dislikes.
Dealing with incorrect assumptions
Successful people accept their impairments as one aspect of who they are. They do not deny
the existence of limitations, but they also do not allow their impairments to define who they
are. An important part of this self-awareness is learning to effectively deal with negative
stereotypes and misunderstandings related to their impairments.
What is an assumption someone made about you
because of your impairment that was untrue? How
did you feel? How did you handle the situation?
Would you handle the situation in the same way if it
happened again? If not, how would you handle it?
Describing your impairment
Self-knowledge can be reflected in how you describe yourself. For example, the way you
describe your impairment may suggest that you consider yourself strong and resilient,
helpless and worthless, passive and dependent, or creative and productive.
During a rainy afternoon in a small lounge in McCarty Hall at the University of Washington, a
group of high school students with disabilities viewed a collection of videos about people with
disabilities. Their job was to come up with guidelines for context, style, and format for a new
video on computer technology for people with disabilities. After showing one program that
featured a boy riding a horse who used crutches to walk, a young woman who is blind
I think we should make a list of words that we will never use in a DO-IT video. “Special,”
“heart-warming and “inspirational” go to the top of the list. Why are kids with
impairments any more or less “special” than other kids? And why did the announcer
say it was “inspirational” to see a kid with an impairment ride a horse when we assume
other kids ride horses just to have fun?
What words do you prefer not be used in describing your impairment or people with
impairments as a group?
Dealing with rude people
You can't prevent people, with or without disabilities, from being rude. But you do have
control over how you respond. You can develop a positive way of thinking about and dealing
with the inevitable situations where you are labelled in a negative way. You can learn to
separate your knowledge of the truth about yourself from the way you are described by
others. In the following statements, individuals with disabilities articulate how these
strategies play out in their lives.
Yes, it's not nice when someone walks up to you and says, bluntly, “Hey, what's wrong
with you?” But remember that this person is curious. My experience has been that if you
tell them about your impairment, they are sometimes actually interested....If you
educate one person about your impairment, dispel one rumour, isn't it worth the anger
at the bluntness of the question
It is not impossible, but it is difficult to teach people to be more sensitive and
understanding to how we feel when they give us different labels.
I don't blame anybody if they don't treat me the way I want to be treated, because I
know that they are not in my shoes. They can't see or feel what I see or feel, because
they don't experience what I do, and this is their impairment. I have so many goals to
achieve and dreams to seize, I have no time to stop and hear what they think I am.
What they think of me is none of my business.
Others may view you differently than what you know to be true
about yourself. The ability to know and value yourself even when
others suggest otherwise is key to leading a successful life.
If someone describes you or your impairment in a way that you do
not like, what are some positive ways to handle the situation?
Thinking about language
An interesting online conversation about labels emerged within a group of young people and
adults with hearing impairments.
As a hearing-impaired individual, I always found it uncomfortable when people would
say I'm “deaf.” I prefer “hard of hearing” or “hearing-impaired” over “deaf.”
I used to say I was “hard of hearing” and hated to be called “deaf.” After losing more
hearing, I became legally deaf. Even though I can talk and sing (badly), I am deaf.
I prefer the term “hearing impaired” because people don't react as badly as they do
when the term “deaf” is used. When I tell someone I'm deaf, he/she acts as though I
can't communicate at all. But if I say I'm hearing impaired, people think I can
communicate, but I just have some trouble. Some people associate the word “deaf”
with being dumb, even if they don't mean to.
“Deaf” simplifies things for me. The only problem that I've encountered over this
terminology is that somebody heard me wrong and told another person that I was
I became deaf as an adult and in the process went through a period when I was “hard
of hearing,” meaning if I really concentrated I could still get information from sounds.
Then I became totally deaf and now rely completely on my vision and other senses for
all my information. I am “deaf” and feel that gives a clear picture of me and how to
communicate with me (i.e., no matter how loud you speak, I am still
deaf....GRIN!)....The problem I have with the term “hearing impaired” is that it implies
that hearing is still there and if we work hard enough it might kick in....It also labels me
impaired, which “I ain't.” I'm just deaf. The hearing isn't impaired either. It just isn't
I sometimes forget I am deaf because the silence
has become so “normal,” and on those days I am
startled to be labelled.
How do you like people to describe your impairment?
If wording is important to you, what can you do to
let others know?
Responding to labels
Read the following email discussion between people with disabilities.
Does anybody find that people who aren't disabled spend way too much time thinking up
new terms to call “us?” In the '70s and earlier most of us were called “cripples.” That
seemed a little too cold, so throughout the '80s we were called “handicapped” or
“disabled.” But now we've gained the phrase “physically challenged.” Do you guys feel
any different when any of these names are used?
When someone says, “What disease do YOU have?” it hurts like hell, no matter how
much self-worth I have.
No, it doesn't hurt or change anything when I'm called “handicapped,” “physically
challenged,” or “disabled.”
I hate the word “cripple.” I also don't like the word “normal” when it is used to describe
people who don't have impairments. Does this mean “abnormal” is the opposite of
“normal?” I never thought of myself as “abnormal”—disabled, malfunctioning, or
handicapped perhaps, but never “abnormal.”
An insight that people who get carried away with labelling need to catch is that we are
all disabled, whether our impairment is being hair growth impaired, having a crippled
tolerance perspective, or just being blind to the feelings of fellow travellers.
I believe everybody has an impairment of one type or another. I'm right in there with
everybody else. Look for people's strengths, not their weaknesses.
I think that as with any minority group, there is an unfortunate tendency to assume that
all disabled people are like the one or few that an outsider knows. Examples I have
faced include assumptions that I must be cold, tired, incapable of comprehending,
starved for touching (usually results in a pat on the head), uninterested in athletic
events in which I cannot compete myself, destined for an early grave, financially needy,
desirous of being approached by strangers, without appreciation of humour....I could
go on ad nauseam.
How do different labels for your impairment affect
or not affect you?
Successful people tend to be able to see the lighter side of situations. This includes finding the
humour in things that happen to people because of their impairments. In an online
discussion, people with hearing impairments shared the following funny experiences.
I once got off a plane in Sioux Falls and had a wheelchair waiting for me because they
knew I had an impairment - I am deaf.
One of my favourite stories was told to me by a counsellor who is deaf. He's driving
through a drive-through window. He gets to the speaker and says, “Hello, I'm deaf and
won't be able to hear you. I can read lips so we can communicate when I get to the
window.” All of a sudden this woman in the booth gets this “Oh good, I'm trained for
this, I know what to do” look on her face as she runs out and gives the guy a Braille
menu....in his car....he's driving.
It's happened more than once that someone will come up to me and ask me if I'm from
France or Germany or Switzerland or some European country because of my “accent.”
You can imagine the shock on their faces when I tell them I have a hearing impairment.
Some of them act embarrassed. “Bonjour!” That's all the French I know! :)
In my sophomore year of high school my math teacher left the room for a minute when
I was using an FM amplification system (which amplifies the voice of the speaker, who is
wearing a clip-on microphone, into my hearing aid). The teacher had the microphone
attached to his shirt. If you leave the room with the FM system, the sound doesn't stop
transmitting! :) Well, I heard some running water, and so I turned my FM off to save
myself and my teacher from a major embarrassment. A few minutes later, I looked up
and my teacher was right there in front of me. His face was as red as a beet as he
announced, “I was just washing my hands, okay?”
I've had the same experience! After class I told him I was scheduling an “FM
Embarrassment Seminar” for the teachers who use the FM system. We still joke about
Share a humorous situation that occurred as a result of your impairment.
Building on strengths
Just like everyone else's, your life is a unique mix of
strengths and challenges, abilities and disabilities. It
is important to regularly take inventory of your
strengths and limitations as you pursue a self-
determined life. Then you can develop strategies for
success that build on your strengths in your weaker
areas, and develop strategies to minimize their
What is one of your strengths and one of your challenges in completing schoolwork? Do you
have an eye for good design? An excellent memory? A passion for history? Are you
challenged by mathematics? Uninterested in business? Unable to manipulate small objects?
Redefining limitations as strengths
Determining your strengths and limitations is not as black-and-white as it sounds.
Sometimes, as noted by one teen who is a wheelchair user and quoted below, what others
consider a weakness in your life you can actually choose to redefine as a strength.
A characteristic I think is a strength is my ability to worry a lot. Some consider this a
weakness. I do in fact worry a lot. I worry about something that I hear about or see or
even read about. Then it sometimes comes out as a big issue that I and others around
me can address together as a group. Worrying about something is like saying that you
care about what the outcome of a certain situation could be.
Describe a characteristic that you have that could be considered a weakness by some people
but, looked at another way, could be considered a strength in school or employment.
Exploring learning strengths and challenges
Everyone has learning strengths and challenges; each person learns best in a unique way.
Think about how you would complete the following sentences, considering factors that relate
to you, your teacher, and your environment.
I learn best when I ...
I have difficulty learning when I...
An example of what I can do to help myself learn is...
I learn best when my teacher ...
I have difficulty learning when my teacher...
An example of what I can do to help my teacher help me learn is...
I learn best in an environment where...
I have difficulty learning in an environment where...
An example of how I can create a positive learning environment for myself is...
Think about your level of strength regarding the following characteristics.
processing/understanding what I read
processing/understanding what I hear
expressing myself in writing
expressing myself by speaking
showing what I know
ability to manipulate objects
What is one of these characteristics that you consider a limitation of yours? How can you
minimize its impact or even turn it into a strength?
Taking inventory of your learning style
One aspect of who you are is your basic learning style. Knowing your learning style can help
you understand yourself and how you can succeed.
Access the following website to explore your learning style:
What were the results? Do you agree with them? Why or why not?
Self-esteem refers to judgements about yourself. If you don't like yourself very much and feel
like most of your actions are stupid, you have low self-esteem; being teased and criticized a
lot may contribute to poor self-esteem. If you think you are better than other people and are
considered conceited, your self-esteem may be too high; you may feel that any time
something goes wrong it must be someone else's fault. If you
basically like yourself and you consider yourself to have a
fairly typical mix of strengths and limitations, you probably
have pretty healthy self-esteem.
What advice would you give to a friend who has poor self-
esteem, in part because he or she is teased by other
Think about how the following advice from young people and adults with disabilities does or
does not apply to your life. Then share advice you have for other participants in this workshop.
Always remember that it's OK to be unusual.
Don't be afraid to express and stand up for what you believe just because it may be
different from everyone else's beliefs.
Trust in who you are. No one can take that from you. If you don't stand up for yourself,
you'll get trampled.
Learn to think for yourself and not follow the “herd.” Be tough; be assertive; do not get
discouraged. Accept life as it is, NOT as you would like it to be.
Live in the world of reality, but allow yourself moments of meditation and reflection on
the nature of things. Whenever possible, enjoy good music, good food, and good
Remind yourself that every life makes a difference. Make as large a difference as you
Do not think of yourself as more “special” than other people. You may have a few more
hurdles, and higher hurdles, to deal with than others, but life is learning to clear the
hurdles no matter what they are. If you want something, earn it like everybody else.
Never, never (did I say never!) use your impairment as an excuse for not doing
something. Remember, there is a whole world out there ready and willing to make
excuses for you, and if you make an excuse, others will happily accept the excuse. But
every time such an excuse is given and accepted, you've limited what those around you
will be prepared to let you do.
Learning to value yourself
To be a self-determined adult, you must understand and value yourself.
How could you help a younger child learn to value himself?
Some positive statements of successful people who value themselves are listed below. Read
each statement and think about your level of agreement about whether it applies to you.
I take good care of myself physically.
I take good care of myself emotionally.
I admire the strengths that come from my uniqueness.
I accept myself.
I have high self-esteem.
I have dignity and self-respect.
I have a sense of purpose in my life.
I trust my own judgment.
I make a positive contribution to my family, school, and community.
I feel comfortable around people with different characteristics.
I respect other people.
Describe yourself (age, interests, personality traits, abilities and impairments) using only
affirmative (positive) statements, with a focus on qualities you like and/or value about
Some positive affirmations from successful people with disabilities are listed below.
Read each statement and think about your level of agreement with it.
I know my strengths and challenges.
I know what is important to me.
I know what I need versus what I prefer.
I know what options I have.
I am an independent thinker.
I am optimistic about my future.
I care about my school, my community, and other people.
I act on my own convictions.
I recognize and respect my rights and responsibilities.
I can resist negative peer pressure.
I am comfortable with my disability.
I take my impairment into account when I set goals and develop strategies, but I realize
that it is only a small part of my identity.
I can deal with the negative stereotypes of others in a constructive way.
Share with us an additional affirmation statement that is true about you now or that you
would like to be true about yourself in the future.
Successful people tend to be able to see the lighter side of situations.
Set Personal, Academic& Career Goals
“Begin with the end in mind.”
When seventy-one adults with specific learning disabilities who had achieved success in their
careers were interviewed, researchers found patterns to their success (Reiff, Gerber, &
Ginsberg, 1992). The success factors were divided into two categories:
• internal decisions
• external manifestations
Successful adults exhibited a powerful desire to succeed and were goal-oriented. A strong
motivator was a desire to gain control of their lives. They recognized that their impairments
presented them with significant challenges that require determination and hard work to
Dreaming has a bad reputation because it's associated with doing nothing instead of been
seen as an important part of a process. For an individual, dreaming can serve the same
function as brainstorming serves for a group—getting creative ideas on the table without
dismissing them too quickly. The acts of dreaming and then thinking through the steps to
reaching that dream are key to leading a fulfilling life. All young people, including those with
impairments, need to dream—dream BIG!
What is a goal?
Goals are mentioned a lot in our everyday lives.
A goal is a direction, an objective, or an end.
Goals could be about things we want to do more of, or improve on.
A goal is something we want to achieve.
People can have all sorts of goals. For example
I am going to join the local cricket club next year
I am going to stop smoking
I am going to loose 5kg
It is up to you to think about what goals you might want to set.
Goal setting can be used for ANYTHING. For example you can
set a goal to do with:
It's up to YOU to think about what things you might want to change.
Goals can also be something that:
You want to be able to do in the future
You want to be better at doing
You want to stop doing.
Why have goals?
By identifying your goals you can work out what you want to achieve that suits you and
Having a goal helps in having a clear path to follow – it helps you go in the right
direction and get you to the right place.
Having goals gives you something to aim for and can be a really good motivator to
keep focused on a particular task.
Some goals can seem too big; if this happens it's a good idea to break them down into
smaller goals or easy steps.
Completing a goal is a great achievement. It gives you a feeling of
being capable and in control of the situations around you, and
increased motivation to achieve new goals. It is also a good
reason for celebration and a chance to look back and see how far
you have come.
Remember, if you don't reach your goal, that's OK. Everybody sets
goals, but they are not always achieved. Your goals will keep
changing as you change.
Students working on academic goals often report that they are able to finally
understand how to manage their assignments or increase their grades with targeted
studying or use of strategies.
What are you good at?
We all have things we are good at, and things we don't enjoy so much. Thinking about your
strengths (our talents and skills) and things you enjoy can help you set goals for the future.
What are some of the things you are good at?
Understanding the goal setting process
Having established your needs and strengths, goal-setting involves three main steps:
identifying an end point (the goal or achievement), working out what steps are needed to
reach that end point and, finally, establishing what structures must be in place to facilitate
• Identify the Goal – What do you want to learn or do?
• Write the Goal – Is the goal clear, concise, measurable, short-term/ long-term?
• Create an Action Plan – How will you begin to work on this goal and when?
The 'SMART' principles also provide a useful guide to goal-setting.
SMART goals are:
Specific – it's easier to accomplish a specific goal than a general one. For example, 're-
join my old lunch club and attend twice a week'.
Measurable – there should be concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the
attainment of goals.
Attainable – when people identify goals that are really important to them (e.g. 'be able
to cook Sunday lunch for my family') they are more likely to develop the attitudes and
ability to reach them.
Realistic – goals should represent an objective that people are willing and able
to work toward. They should also be set at a sufficiently high level that they represent
real progress. Of course, progress is relative.
Timely – goals should be grounded within a time frame (e.g. 'by the end of the week I
will be able to button my own cardigan').
Setting Goals at the Right Level
Goals should be slightly out of your immediate grasp, but not so far that there is no hope in
achieving them. Just remember that a belief that a goal is unrealistic may be incorrect!
As you are setting your goals, keep the following thoughts on the following
goal checklist in mind.
Is the goal specific (not too narrow in focus, or too broad)?
Is the goal measurable or directly observable?
Is it relevant for your environment or situation? or . . .
an attempt to modify my environment?
Is goal attainable, but . . .
Is this something that you really want to work?
Is there a timeline for the goal?
Can you envision the completed goal, or tell what the goal will
“look” like when finished?
Sharing your goals with others can often lead to more success. Why not discuss some of
your goals with your family and friends?
Develop Strategies to Reach Your Goals
“First comes thought; then organization of that thought into ideas and plans;
then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning…is in your imagination.”
Successful people set goals, keep expectations high, and are creative in developing
strategies to reach their goals. They look at options and make informed decisions.
Making informed decisions
Making decisions is an important part of becoming an adult. To make good decisions, you
need to understand the problem and know what options are available and the
consequences of each.
Here are steps you can follow to make an informed decision:
1. Determine what the problem is.
2. Determine what information you need, and use personal and information
resources to get it.
3. Determine what choices you have and the consequences, advantages, and
disadvantages of each action.
4. Make a decision.
5. Take action.
6. Evaluate your decision according to results.
7. Adjust your decision or next steps as needed.
What are some of the things you need to know in order to make an informed decision
about what jobs to apply to?
Developing study habits
In order to achieve academic success, it is important to develop good study habits. Even
students who did not need to study a lot in high school will find that they need good study
habits in college.
Here is what one successful person with hearing and mobility impairments reports:
I could never achieve anything without writing things down. Sometimes I use a
calendar, sometimes a blank sheet of paper in my notebook, and sometimes the
computer. I use a prioritization process. I write out everything that I need to do.
Then I mark the things that MUST get done today or tomorrow as opposed to later,
and I prioritize in order of importance. I get a lot of satisfaction crossing off
accomplished steps. It also helps to break down larger tasks into smaller ones. I
make lists, plan how to do the things on the lists, and then use the lists to motivate
me to get things done.
Read the following suggestions for good study habits and tell us what you would add to
Write a daily “to do” list.
Get organized by keeping a calendar that schedules work to be done and deadlines
Break large projects into smaller tasks.
Study at high-energy times of the day.
Schedule uninterrupted study time each day.
Find your best study places.
Study in short segments throughout the day.
Find ways to revitalize yourself—exercise, dance, sleep, healthy snacks.
Create a support system of fellow students; study together or be available by
phone and/or email.
Reward yourself for developing successful habits, such as allowing time to play a
favorite computer game.
Creating an action plan to achieve goals
Creating an action plan includes the following steps:
1. Set definite goals – ask 'What is my goal?’
2. Take each of your goals, break it down into sub-goals and sequence your
sub-goals – ask 'What steps need to be taken?’
3. Identify the resource requirements – ask 'What resources do I need in order to
achieve my goals and sub-goals?' Time? Money? Stationary? A laptop?
4. Identify the knowledge and skill requirements – ask 'What skills do I need to
achieve this? What information and knowledge do I need? What help, assistance,
or collaboration do I need?' or 'Who can do it and how?’
5. Time the accomplishment of each of your sub-goals as well as your ultimate
goals – ask 'When should it be done by?’
6. Outline the benefits of each of your sub-goals as well as your ultimate goal
– ask 'What's good about this?'
Use the table below to create an action plan to achieve your goals.
Tell us about a goal you have regarding recreation, school, or employment. List at least
three things you need to do to reach this goal, and identify at least one thing you can do
right now to move closer to your goal.
Listed below are some affirmations of individuals with disabilities who have achieved
success. Read each statement and think about whether it applies to you now.
I have high expectations for myself.
I set goals for myself.
I can identify steps to reach my goals.
I anticipate results.
I am motivated to succeed.
I like to do things myself.
I like to learn new things.
I work hard in school.
I am creative.
I have a sense of direction.
I plan ahead and make choices carefully.
Tell us what you can do to make one of these statements stronger in your life within the
next month. Tell us how a parent, guardian, teacher, or someone else you know could
help you make this statement stronger in your life.
Additional Resources for Your Success
We recommend that you refer to the following resources for additional information on
goal setting for personal, academic and career success. Search online for them. You may
be able to download them as free e-books (PDFs) or audio-books (Mp3s).
1. Goal Setting: 13 Secrets of World Class Achievers by Vic Johnson
2. Dream Big & Make It Happen by Evan Mawarire
3. Seven Keys to Abundant Living with No Regrets by Stephen Adei
4. Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want Faster Than You Ever Thought
Possible by Brian Tracy
5. The Magic Lamp: Goal Setting for People Who Hate Setting Goals
by Keith Ellis
6. The Success Principles : How to Get from Where You Are to
Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield
7. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in
Less Time by Brian Tracy
8. The Magic Story by Frederick Van Rensselaer Dey
9. The Richest Man in Babylon by Mr George S Clason
10. Success! The Glenn Bland Method by Glenn Bland
11. Goal Setting: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Goals
by Michael S. Dobson
12. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success
by John Maxwell
This is not an exhaustive list of all the books that you can refer to. But this is just a list that
will help you as you begin your journey of success. We hope that you will be able to
identify more books on goal setting by yourself and use them to enrich your life.