The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is ‘Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want’. This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of these goals in building a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.
Today, we are sharing advice from one of our favourite role models – Nick Vujicic, motivational speaker and founder of Attitude is Altitude, as well as some of our own tips on how to set goals you can achieve at university and when you begin planning your next steps.
1. Set goals which are challenging but attainable
To make progress towards your career aspirations, you need to set goals which will challenge you; having a disability is no reason to limit your aspirations. Equally, setting unrealistic goals will simply leave you feeling demotivated; think broadly about your strengths and how you can pursue your passions through joining clubs or even starting a student society.
These days, employers want more than just good grades. So whether you’re looking to participate in a new sport, or write for your university newspaper, ensure you request any support or adjustments you will require so that your goals are attainable; you are more likely to achieve goals which you can see yourself achieving, albeit with a fair amount of hard work!
2. Put your goals into context
Whilst setting easy goals which require minimum effort may boost your confidence in the short term, making real progress in the long-term requires effort. You know your own capacity, be honest with yourself and set goals which will challenge you.
One of the best tips shared by a student connections facilitator at University of St. Andrews in her blog, was to take time to troubleshoot your solutions and think about your needs (and goals!) practically. If you are struggling with your goals, being open about your disability will help you access support and adjustments to achieve better results – which leads us to the next point…
3. Ask for support when you need it
Being resourceful in your approach to achieving your goals will improve your chances of success. Consider which resources and support would help you achieve your goals; if for example you are trying to improve the quality of your written work and you have dyslexia, you could access study support sessions from the disability service at your university.
When trying to learn a new skill, find out what resources are available to you and decide which ones will best suit your learning style; be it books and online resources to teach yourself or joining a club to learn from others. In the past, we featured advice for better working from disability experts and graduates on disabilities, such as ADHD and Asperger’s on the blog; let us know if you would like to read more content on your disability in the comments below!
4. Define and organise your timescales
When working towards your goals, having timescales in place will provide structure and enable you to monitor your progress. However, timescales needn’t be set in stone; evaluate your progress as you go along, altering your timescales as required to ensure you maintain the right level of challenge for yourself.
Reflecting on timescales over the past term may be useful in helping you plan for Term 2. Make a note of all your upcoming academic and application deadlines in a diary and ensure that you manage your time well between assignments and making applications. You can start by familiarising yourself with the application process and read our employability tips here.
5. Find what motivates you
Maintaining momentum is key to achieving your goals, assigning rewards for completing steps towards your goals will help to keep you on track to long term success. Only you know what will help motivate you, whether it’s indulging in your favourite food or a bike ride with friends, identify treats that are ‘wants’ rather than ‘needs’.
6. Don’t compare yourself with others
Working towards your goals is a very personal process – as Nick says:
“It’s about being better than you were the day before—and becoming the best version of you that you can be”.
Your disability is likely to present you with unique challenges – comparing yourself to others who don’t face these challenges is not a fair comparison. Whilst your peers may share common goals, it’s important to set your own benchmarks for success.
7. Go for it!
Planning is an important part of goal setting, as the famous Benjamin Franklin quote states “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” However, often the hardest part of achieving your goals is actively starting to work towards them, once you have completed the 5 steps mentioned above you just need to go for it!
No matter how much hard work you put in, you will likely experience periods where reaching your goal seems like a distant dream but remember, setting goals is not just about the end result – the journey you go on to achieve your goals is equally important. Some of the skills employers value most include resilience and determination; demonstrating persistence in achieving your goals will give you valuable examples to share during the application process.