Commit to making marked progress towards your goals- big and small. Remember that, like every other person, only you can decide what is realistic and worthy of spending your time working toward. Surrender that authority to no one. Not parents. Not advisors. Not friends. Not because it’s unlikely to work out. Certainly, not because you’re a person with a disability (PWD).
As a person who has achieved many life goals, including moving into my own apartment, running my own personal care assistance program, earning double my employment income over last year, supporting various social justice movements, and earning a bachelors’ degree. In my successes, the following steps have proven invaluable:
1. Make a master list entitled 20 or whatever number applies) steps to my perfect life. Keep the list in your journal, on your fridge, or wherever you will be forced to see it regularly, even when you don’t want to.
2. Choose no more than 3 goals to work toward at once. Any more than that requires too much division of focus. If other things happen that incidentally facilitate other items on the list, so much the better, but keep your main work directed to these three goals you selected.
3. Have someone hold you accountable. This person can be a family member, friend, or even an online community. Note: It’s unfair to get angry with these selected people when they do what you ask them to do.
4. Make a list of resources that could help you get from where you are to where you want to be. For PWD, this could include: independent living centers, mentorship programs, on-lime or off-line communities, or some other PWD who have achieved your goal.
5. Take you impairment/body cycles into account when planning. For example, if you require an ASL interpreter to be fully involved in meetings. Don’t pretend that’s not true. It will only anger other participants or supervisors when they find out. Similarly, if you know you are a night owl is probably not best to schedule your internship to begin at 8 a.m. daily. A sleepy, grumpy intern looks much worse than an honest one who comes in at 1 p.m, every day with a smile and offers to make up missed hours by working from home on a more body friendly schedule.
6. Remember to take time off and celebrate small victories en route to your ultimate goal. While it's very important to keep your eyes on the prize, if you never give yourself a break or treat as a reward for all your hard work, you will eventually get frustrated and be more likely to give up. So it's all right to go out Saturday night and have a beer or two as long as you're going to be fully functional by your next big deadline.
Good luck! Whatever anyone may tell you I know that you are more capable of achieving and deciding what dreams matter to you. No one can do it for you and no one can make you stop doing it if you're stubborn enough. Go forth and conquer! Lastly, it's important to remember that every day you work on something is more progress than you would've made had you chosen not to work on it at all.