Planning

The Plan is your tool for identifying, communicating, and achieving your goals. It helps keep you and your support system on the same page to identify your vision, goals, and steps and to keep track of your progress. Remember, this is your plan. Be an advocate for yourself.

7 Steps to starting a plan

  1. Get a Blank Plan.
  2. Know Yourself.
    • Use your life skills assessment and any other tool you may have to know your strengths and needs.
  3. Get a Team Together.
    • Get at least one supportive person to help you develop your plan. Foster parents, staff, caseworkers, teachers, family, and friends can all help you plan your next steps.
  4. Write Down Your Vision.
    • Where do you see yourself going? Who do you want to become? That’s your vision. Write it down.
  5. Write Down Your Goals and Steps.
    • What needs to happen to achieve your Vision? What are your main goals? Pick your strongest Key Element and start there. Write your goal at the top of the page. Now list any steps you can think of that will help you meet that goal.
  6. Share Your Plan.
    • Identify people you know who can assist you in completing steps. Write names or titles next to your steps. Share your plan with them. Let them know you could use their help on this.
  7. Work Your Plan.
    • A plan is not a plan unless you use it. Each day, look at your plan and decide if there’s something you can do today. Update your plan weekly and share it with your team monthly. As stuff gets done, fill in the End Date. Now you can show judges, caseworkers, family, and anyone else what you’ve done. Reward yourself for completing steps and achieving your goals.

Workers: View the guide to planning.

Strengths

What are you best at? What helps you get things done? What do people say your best features are? These are your strengths. They are personal qualities, skills, knowledge, and abilities that make you great.

Examples: I am a trustworthy friend. I am a fast runner. I know a lot about science. I have a good sense of humor. I work very hard. I know how to fix a car. I can save money well. I have strong morals.

If you’re having trouble identifying your strengths, an assessment can help. Most everything you said “Yes” to on your life skills assessment is a strength.

Needs

In what areas do you need extra support? What is most important thing you want to have or know to be successful? With this, meeting goals would be easy. These are your needs. They are the areas you want to improve, the knowledge you want to have, and the resources necessary for you to meet your goals.

Examples: I struggle in math, I need a tutor. My neighborhood is sketchy, I need a safer place to live. I can’t get to work, I need a car. This tastes bad, I need cooking skills. I don’t have a birth certificate, I need a birth certificate.

If you don’t know your needs, an assessment can help. Many of the things you said “No” to on your life skills assessment are needs. The “My Services Report” section also is a good way to identify things you need.

Foster Parents

Foster parents are a possible permanent connection. They should be helping you work an IL Plan.

Example: At 23 during the holidays I'll stay overnight with my foster parents.

Vision

A vision statement is a simple sentence or short paragraph that states where you think you’ll be in the future. It’s your big picture. Think about your future self and describe it. At this point it’s all about hopes and dreams.

Example: At 21 I’ll be married, have a full time job in health care, own a nice house, drive a fast car, and have a dog named Spike.

Goals

A goal is something you want to achieve, accomplish, or obtain. There are lots of tips for goal-setting. Here are five to remember using the acronym “SMART.”

  • S: Specific (not vague or general)
  • M: Measurable (so you can tell if you are making progress)
  • A: Attainable (something you can realistically get done)
  • R: Rewarding (important to you, will better your life)
  • T: Timely (you have a deadline and can check it of the list when it’s done)

*Doran, G.T. (1981)

Examples: Earn a college degree. Obtain my essential documents. Live in an affordable, safe, and stable home. Attend monthly visits with my counselor for one year.

Steps

Steps are goals broken into bite sized pieces. What actions can you take to meet your goal? What can you do today, or this week? You’re basically creating a to-do list. Daily actions and behaviors are going to be the secret to achieving goals.

Examples: Request IL Funds for a bike. Complete a job application. Google “How to become an auto mechanic.” Ask my caseworker if they have my birth certificate. Call my brother on his birthday.

If you are having trouble identifying steps, try brainstorming. Get a big piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind related to your goal. There are no wrong answers! See if you can group anything together and turn it into a step.

Share Your Plan

It’s really important your team knows your plan. Your worker is supposed to keep it on file. Your judge is interested in good stuff you’re doing. Your placement provider (foster parent, group home) needs to know what you want in life and they can all probably help.

There are a few ways to share your plan with your team. If it’s on paper, make a copy and hand it to them. If it’s a PDF file, email it to them.

Share your progress and any changes to your plan. Make sure everyone gets an update each month.