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Youth in Transition Toolkit:


My best life

Developing a vision

Has the youth developed a vision for their best life?

Developing a vision sets the stage for a youth's success. Still, it can be challenging or even overwhelming for youth to build a vision of their best life. It might seem too complex or far into the future to embrace today. As a professional, you can help youth consider what they want as they develop their vision for the future.

  • Awareness: Understand why it's important to develop a strong vision of a best life. 
  • Exploration: Identify how strengths, preferences, interests and needs influence their vision for the future.
  • Preparation: Practice looking ahead and imagining what the future could be.
  • Implementation: The youth reports that their vision is becoming a reality as they are living their best life.

Instruction in self-advocacy

LEARN: Develop your knowledge

Learn how to support youth in developing a vision for the future

Documenting a vision for the future helps to drive high expectations. It also encourages communication with everyone on the team as you collaborate to make sure youth are on the best path.

The self-determined learning model of instruction is an evidence-based model that promotes self-determination. The model includes the self-determination inventory system and action framework, both proven to lead to outcomes. 

See how Charting the LifeCourse tools can help youth create a vision of adulthood throughout their transition years: My vision of adulthood (PDF).

DO: Work with youth

Find resources to help youth develop a vision for the future.

The Life trajectory (PDF) tool from Charting the LifeCourse helps youth envision their best life and identify the steps and experiences needed to get there.

To begin, encourage youth to complete these sections: 

  • Vision for what I want
  • What I don't want

Then, in the space above the arrow, help them list what steps it might take to get there. Below the arrow, list steps or things to avoid. When the activity is complete, reflect on the benefits of writing down specific action items and things to avoid.

Step 1: Walk through the Build your dream worksheet (PDF).
The worksheet will help youth start to think about their future and how much money they'll need to live the life they want.

As you walk through the worksheet, ask questions like:

  • What do you see yourself doing when you're 25?
  • Where do you see yourself living? Will you live by yourself or with a roommate?
  • What do you think you'll need?
  • What will you want?
  • Are you going to cook all of your meals or do you want to eat out sometimes?

Step 2: When the worksheet is complete, ask: Will benefits be enough to afford the life you want? What do you need to have enough money to pay for the things in your budget?
Answer: A job!

Some people have cash benefits, like SSI. This gives them some money, but most often it isn't enough to live on.

Step 1: Ask what they've heard about SSI.

  • Have you heard of SSI? What is it?
    Answer: A Social Security Administration program that gives cash benefits to people with disabilities who have limited income and resources. The amount you get in SSI benefits is based on your financial need and your living situation.
  • Do you know how much you can get from SSI in a month?
    Answer: The maximum monthly SSI benefit in 2022 is $841 for a single person.

Step 2: Ask if they've ever heard that you can't work if you're on SSI.
If so, explain that this isn't right. People can work and be on SSI. In fact, SSI is designed so people are always better off when they work. And people on SSI need to work if they want to have more than just the very basics.

Step 3: Review the budget developed in the activity above.
Review the total costs, and remind them that SSI is only $841 a month in 2022. Then ask what that means for their budget.

  • Can you afford what you want on SSI benefits? If not, how can you get enough money to pay for the things in your budget?
  • Answer: A job!

The I'm determined project provides tools and support to help youth set goals, be heard and reach for the stars. Introduce youth to activities that support self-determination.

The Self-determination inventory: Student report asks youth how they feel about their ability to be self-determined. The results provide a snapshot that can help youth build actions and skills to reach their goals. The tool can also provide a pre- and post-inventory to see if program services impacted their sense of self-determination.

The Self-determination inventory: Student report guide helps youth use their inventory results to build a plan to reach their goals.

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