Journal Entry 

 Clear Goals 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

The Power of Clear Goals in Prison

Some of you may remember the last article I wrote before taking a break from writing letters to our thousands of friends in prison. In that article, I wrote challenges I was facing in raising capital to fund our nonprofit.

Many of you face challenges. And you need strategies to overcome those challenges. In our course, Preparing for Success after Prison, I showed the ways that I created opportunities out of nothing while serving 26 years. I use those same strategies now, even though I finished serving my sentence ten years ago.

To overcome, I built a new business. And we just launched last week. It’s called MitigationArc. Now that I’ve built the framework of that business, I have more time to communicate with people in prison, hoping to inspire you to work toward your clear goals.

Never underestimate the transformative power of setting clear, measurable goals, especially during times of confinement. It’s easy to feel lost and directionless in prison, but it’s precisely in these moments that we must find our compass and chart our course.

The Straight-A Guide has been a beacon for me, illuminating the path of personal growth and resilience. One of its core principles emphasizes the importance of setting clear goals. But why is this so crucial, especially during incarceration?

I think back to the stories of great leaders like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Both faced prolonged periods of confinement, yet neither allowed their spirits to be imprisoned. Mandela, during his 27 years in prison, never lost sight of his goal: a free and democratic South Africa. Despite the harsh conditions and the seemingly insurmountable odds, he remained steadfast in his vision. Gandhi, too, during his multiple imprisonments, held onto his goal of India’s independence through nonviolent resistance.

What strikes me most about these leaders is not just their unwavering commitment to their goals but the clarity with which they defined them. They didn’t have vague aspirations; they had clear, measurable objectives. This clarity gave them purpose, direction, and a sense of hope, even in the darkest of times.

Incarceration, in many ways, can feel like an endless tunnel. But setting clear goals can be the light that guides us through. It gives us a sense of purpose, a reason to wake up every morning, and a roadmap to navigate the challenges. It’s not just about marking the days on the calendar; it’s about making each day count.

I’ve come to realize that setting goals isn’t just about the end result. It’s about the journey, the growth, and the person we become in the process. It’s about finding meaning in the struggle and turning adversity into an opportunity.

Set clear, measurable goals. Let them be your source of inspiration, and your roadmap to a brighter future. Remember the stories of Mandela and Gandhi, and know that with clarity, commitment, and resilience, you too can transform your life.


Michael Santos, Founder of Prison Professors

Your Task: Reflect on your current situation and the goals you’ve set for yourself. Write down one clear, measurable goal you want to achieve in the next six months. Consider the stories of Mandela and Gandhi and think about the steps you need to take to reach that goal. Remember, it’s not just about the destination, but the journey and the growth along the way. Share your goal with a trusted friend or mentor and ask for their feedback and support. Together, let’s make each day count towards a brighter future.

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