Planning for a Successful Future

A gray, white and blue skyscape background image with a female wearing jeans, a white tee shirt, brown hat with on top of long black hair. The female is holding one knee up with her hands and is looking to the sky. In the clouds are graphics of tools used for planning. Text below the cloud of graphics: "Planning for a Successful Future by Sheena Adams-Avery, CDT, CDP Communications Manager, TN Disability Pathfinder

“What will my future look like? Will I be successful? Do I have what it takes to succeed? Will my disability keep me from being successful?”

Success is something we all naturally strive for; from the moment we are born to the moment we take our last breath. We all work towards being successful at something. Success for babies may look like taking their first steps, for a teen, it may be to graduate from high school, for a young person it may be getting that first job after college, for older adults it may be successful careers, family, or retirement, and for a person with a disability, overcoming hurdles and accomplishing different goals is continual. The idea of success is meant to move you forward in life and to build yourself a better future. But for many, seeing the outcomes of success may be complex, and even a little harder to achieve. So how do you start to plan for a successful future?

Lightly colored purple and pink sky background with an image of a child flying while sitting on a suitcase with both his ars held out. The camera bag around his neck is pulling upward due to gravity. Text on image, "IF YOU CAN IMAGINE IT, YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT. - William Arthur Ward."

 “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.” – William Arthur Ward, motivational speaker

Sometimes just imagining what success looks like, can give you the motivation you need to accomplish your goals. First, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Then, take a moment, close your eyes, relax, and try to imagine yourself as a success or accomplishing your goals. What does that look like to you? How do you see yourself getting there? What will it look like when you successfully accomplish those goals? Remember it’s important that you stay focused in this moment and let nothing, or no one influence your thinking. This will later help you to put into action your thoughts.

Gray background image of a male wearing a blue long sleeve shirt and holding his hands up like he is getting ready to ask a question. Text on the left of the image, "FOR TRUE SUCCESS ASK YOURSELF THESE FOUR QUESTIONS:" Text on the right of the image are graphics: "WHY? WHY NOT? (flashing) WHY NOT ME? WHY NOT NOW? - James Allen." Pathfinder's branded gaphic replaces the 'O' in the last word "NOT."

 “For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?” ~ James Allen, author

Asking yourself questions like: why do I want to be successful? What reasonable steps can I take to make changes? Why am I not successful now or what is holding me back from achieving my goals? These can be hard questions to ask yourself but will allow you to get to know yourself better and figure out exactly what stage you are in before you begin your process.

Colorful background image of red and brown cobblestones, a metal fence and a person in a sports wheelchair moving along the sidewalk. There is a sign to the left side of the image that points in 3 different directions with "FUTURE, PRESENT, AND PAST," Are on the sign with blue backing. Pathfinder's graphic is on the "Present," sign. Text on the bottom right of the image is "LEARN FROM YESTERDAY, LIVE FOR TODAY, HOPE FOR TOMORROW. - Albert Einstein."

 “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. ~ Albert Einstein, scientist/inventor

Another important question to ask yourself is what’s stopping you? Often, we tend to focus on past mistakes, defeats, trials, etc., when we’re trying to achieve something. Unfortunately, focusing on the past can possibly keep us from doing the things that we want to do. Shift your focus on what you want right now and how you are going to achieve it. And don’t forget to keep a positive outlook about it. Hoping for the best can go a long way in providing motivation as we carry out our plans. “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” – Christopher Reeve, actor & disability advocate.

Light background image with open window panes in the background. A man wearing a black shirt and a denim long sleeve shirt and is painting on a large canvas set on a good easel with his right hand while hoding a red mug with Pathfinder's logo.  

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey, TV host

What is your passion? What comes naturally to you or excites you? Is this something you can do to help work your plan? Passion and success go hand in hand. It can give you the pep you need to take on any task. It’s usually something you’re either good at or comfortable doing and it makes you feel good about yourself and your abilities.

Don’t be afraid to lean into that, it could be just the thing that you can turn into a career or become an advocate for. For example, if you volunteer at a disability organization and love what you’re doing, you could possibly find a way to work for an organization or become a public speaker about disability issues. No matter what your passion, feel proud of it and be confident about it. This will help others to see your passion, keep you uplifted when things get hard and remind you of your worth.

Man in a light colored button down shirt is holding a pen and writing in fron of him "WRITE THE VISION AND MAKE IT PLAIN." hABAKKUK 2.2King James Bible. Patfhfinder's logo is on his sleeve button.

“Write the vision and make it plain.” – Habakkuk 2:2, King James Bible

Although it’s a biblical scripture and we recognize that everyone isn’t a Christian, this is still great advice. Write it down! We all have so many things we would like to accomplish in our minds, so writing your thoughts, goals, and strategies down, can not only help you to focus and make plans towards achieving your goals, but it can help you stay on task by seeing the plans you’ve made and how close you are to attaining them or how far you have gotten away from completing them.

Try writing in a journal. Journaling is a good way to do this.  It can help you get it all out, which some say feels cathartic, a fancy word for saying, it feels good that it’s not bottled up in your mind. And once you’ve gotten it all out create your plan from what you wrote. You can also create a list of goals and place them somewhere that you can easily continue to refer to them on a regular basis. If you see them often, you’re less likely to forget them.

Colorful background image of an office setting. A person sitting in a wheelchair is holding a notpad in her hand. Above her are animated words "DO WHAT YOU CAN, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, WHERE YOU ARE." Theodore Roosevelt. " At the front of the image are two people who are looking down at a phone. One is wearing a yellow vest and is and Pathfinder's logo is on the left side of her shirt.

 “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ―Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. President

Now it’s time to act! What can you actively do to accomplish your goals?

  • Set realistic goals. It is okay to aim for the highest goals, but remember to do what you can, with what you have. Make sure your goals are within reach. This will help, especially during difficult times.
  • Gauge your needs. What do you need? Whether it’s money, support, education, technology, or tools that assist with your everyday living, find out what you need to help you carry out your plans.
  • Save a bit. To do almost anything in this world, there’s a cost, so start saving a little to help towards your goals. If you are a person with a disability have you heard of the ABLE TN Savings Program?
  • Work your plan. It’s time! Don’t hesitate. Put the plan(s) that you wrote down into action and try to stick with it as close as possible. But remember plans change all the time, so be flexible and adapt as needed.
  • Ask for help. We all need help at some point in our lives. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Someone has knowledge of things that you may not, so asking for help is wise and could possibly allow you to get the assistance you need to achieve your goals.
  • Give yourself grace. Nothing is perfect. Things happen. Allow yourself to fail at times because that is human nature. But when things are hard, remember it is not necessarily a testament of your work nor your ability, so face it, handle it, and try again. But most importantly don’t beat yourself up about it.

Natural wood table in background. A napkin, coffee mug and ink pen are on the table. Text on the napkin, "I AM THE SUCCESS STORY." Pathfinder's logo is at the top right o f the Napkin. And finally, affirm yourself and remember your worth. It’s important to remember that no matter who you are or what obstacles you face, you can start to plan for future success. Tell yourself you can do it. Cheer yourself on every day, even if no one else is cheering you on.Gray and white animated image with blurred buildings in the background. A woman with curly hair and wearing a white button down and gray long sleeve button down swearter. Her hands are in the air and she is smiling. Text on top right of the image "SUCCESS GO GET IT!. Pathfinder's branded graphic is on the right side of the computer. You can even write yourself notes of affirmation with positive things to get you through the day, and stick them on your mirror so that when you see yourself, you see the reminder. You’ve got this! I believe in you!

Just a friendly reminder, that if you live in the state of Tennessee and you are a person with a disability, parent of a child with a disability, support person, or caregiver, etc., Tennessee Disability Pathfinder can help you find community resources to support you in achieving your goals. Call us at 1-800-640-4636 or visit our website at, so we can be part of your journey to a successful future.