Recently, I had the opportunity to work with my staff to create a mission statement for our support workers. Although it had more to do with the philosophy of our team, I was reminded how important these statements are for providing direction and inspiration when we work at goal setting. Here is the example of the mission statement we created:

The Mission of a Support Worker

The mission of a support worker at Abilities Community Services is to provide support for individuals with behavioural & developmental challenges. We do this by assisting our participants to achieve their goals through teamwork, community inclusion, and empathy.

Stephen Covey describes the benefits of writing a personal mission statement in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In a chapter called Begin With the End in Mind, Covey writes:

“A personal mission statement is a fundamental management tool for helping you gain a clear understanding of where you want to go – and help you get there.”

By describing where we want to go, our mission statement guides how we spend our time and what we believe should be done by whom. It focuses our efforts. Yet, for this to work best, the mission statement also needs to be based on our view of what we can become. Our destination is more than just an idea; it is an ideal.

Setting Goals

There are many times when a participant will need to choose what to do with their day. A support worker takes part in assisting them by offering choices and encouraging them to choose from these options. The choices a support worker offers is informed by goal-setting that takes place during the person-centered planning process. Goals are written in a way that helps the participant to become more independent and participate fully in their community.

The reason goal writing is so important is because it gives everyone involved a clear understanding of what success looks like for this person’s life. By knowing these goals, we know how to help the participants achieve them. We also have a better understanding of what experience this person is trying to have on a daily basis.

For instance, some participants write goals about independence and employment opportunities. When we know these are the things they feel passionate about, our choices of activity will reflect this by looking for ways to engage them with others who have similar interests. This helps participants begin feeling more connected to the community, while also experiencing opportunities for achievement. In this way, we can help them begin seeing themselves as successful.

Another example of a goal is the participant who wants to experience independence through personal growth. When they decide that today they want to go to a museum or see a movie, with support from their support worker they will have opportunities to do these things on their own. Not only are they becoming more independent, but they are learning to trust themselves. By following through with the decision that is important to them, this person is gaining confidence in their own abilities. This type of goal-setting builds self-esteem and helps participants feel more capable.

Goals Develop Relationships

Focusing on these goals allows us to build stronger relationships with each participant because we are proactively working to understand their experiences and what they hope to achieve in the future. Covey writes, “An individual’s vision is not a fantasy, but rather an ideal. It is based on an understanding of who they are, where they want to go, and what is important to them. Remember – it is ultimately their choice. It is not your vision for them, it is their vision for themselves”.

When we help our participants to set goals, we are helping them define who they want to be and what they want to do with their life. This simple act creates ownership of the plan by the participant,