Goal Setting

What kinds of goals should I set?

There are three main categories of goals to write in your transition plan. These are:

1. Education

2. Employment

3. Independent living

This divide helps you to focus on the different areas of your life, instead of putting all of your energy into just one area. You can write SMART goals to make a plan for how you’ll get closer to your main goal starting right now.

Setting SMART Goals

The goals you set for yourself should be SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym that stands for

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Let’s look at what each one of these means. 


Specific: For a goal to be specific, it has to be clear. What exactly do you want to do?

Non-specific: I want to learn to play music.

● What kind of music?

● What instrument?

Specific: I want to learn to play I Think I Need A New Heart by The Magnetic Fields on the ukelele.


Measurable: For a goal to be measurable, you have to be able to tell how you’re making progress. You also have to know when you’ll have met the goal.

The example goal from above is specific, but it’s not measurable: it doesn’t show how you’ll know you’re making progress.

To make the goal more measurable, you could add:

● I will get a ukulele.

● I will sign up for ukulele lessons twice a week.

● I will learn all the songs in the beginner’s songbook.


Attainable: Is your goal realistic? Is it actually possible? For example, let’s say you added “I will practice the ukulele every day for 10 hours a day.” That isn’t realistic. There will be days when you have other responsibilities. You would burn out fast if you tried to practice for that long every day. You could get tired or bored. When you set unattainable goals, it’s easy to get discouraged.

To make this goal attainable, you could instead say that you will practice for a half hour every day. Or, that you will practice for at least 5 hours each week.

This gives you more flexibility. That makes it more likely that you’ll be able to meet your goal.


Relevant: Does this goal relate to your needs, strengths, preferences, and interests? Does it make sense as a goal for you during transition? Remember, these are the goals you want to reach as you become an adult. Goals like “I want to retire to the Bahamas when I’m 70” or “I want to own a pet monkey named Marcel” are not immediately relevant to how you’re going to:

● Get a job you like

● Learn the daily life skills you need

● Access health care, or

● Other aspects of adult life

Before you can retire to the Bahamas with your pet monkey and ukulele, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to learn the skills you need to get the job you want so you can afford to do the other things you want to do in life.


Time-bound: Finally, your goals need to be time-bound. Our example goal still doesn’t say when we want or need to do it by. “I’m going to sign up for ukulele lessons.” By when? Will you sign up for them by August 15th? Will you sign up for them before the school year starts? Without adding a time-frame, your goals will be open-ended. When your goals are open-ended, it’s hard to make a plan for really accomplishing them.

You can add a blank calendar inside your transition notebook and write on it. This will help you keep track of starting and completing your goals.

Now you’ve got:

  • Goals for adult life
  • Sub-goals to build towards your main goals

Once you’ve got your goals, the next step is to work your goal plan with self-determination.