Journal Entry 

 Don’t Make Excuses 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

If you’re serving time in prison, you’ve got to think about how you’re going to overcome the challenges you face when you get out. You should expect to meet resistance, cynicism, and rejection. But you’ve got to succeed anyway. 

The preparations you begin making today will be far more valuable than making excuses on why you’re not ready for prime time.

I’m Michael Santos, and I’d never ask anyone to do anything that I didn’t do. While incarcerated, I learned how to prepare for success. If you go to the education department, or to the reentry affairs coordinator in your prison, you can ask to enroll in the course: Preparing for Success after Prison. You’ll learn the same lessons that prepared to get out of prison and create business opportunities, jobs, and to earn an income from multiple sources.

From the moment I entered prison, I knew that I had to make the most out of my time inside. The key was to focus on personal development and goal-setting, despite the limitations of the prison environment. 

Here’s how I approached it:

  1. Education: Education was my primary tool. I spent countless hours reading and studying. I read everything from philosophy to business books, which helped me develop a new mindset and understand the world better. To others in prison, I recommend taking advantage of any educational programs available and, if those are limited, seek books and self-educate.
  2. Writing: Writing allowed me to transcend the walls and participate in the broader society. It took many years to develop confidence in writing. In time, I found writing therapeutic and a means to connect with the outside world. I encourage others to journal or write to reflect and communicate their thoughts and experiences.
  3. Networking: I made it a point to connect with people who could help me grow. This included leaders I read about in society, and people who inspired me in prison. Through networking, I built relationships. I even got married inside of prison boundaries, and my wife and I have been married for longer than 20 years. 
  4. Physical Fitness: Maintaining physical health was crucial for me. It kept me strong, both physically and mentally. Regular exercise can be a powerful tool for anyone in prison to stay focused and healthy.
  5. Setting Goals: I constantly set short-term and long-term goals. These goals gave me a sense of direction and purpose. Whether it’s learning a new skill, completing a course, or planning for a business, setting clear goals is essential.
  6. Staying Positive: Maintaining a positive attitude in adversity was perhaps the most challenging yet crucial aspect. Belief in a better future and the determination to work towards it is vital.
  7. Helping Others: By helping other people through tutoring or simply offering advice, I found a sense of fulfillment and purpose. In prison, look for ways to contribute positively to the lives of others.
  8. Planning for the Future: I spent considerable time planning what I would do upon release. This planning included career aspirations, personal goals, and how I would reintegrate into society.

For those currently in prison, my advice is to view your time as an opportunity for growth and preparation. Use whatever resources are available and focus on your personal development. Never stop thinking about your future. Then create plans, build resources. Your current situation does not define your future. With the right mindset and actions, you can prepare for a successful life after prison.

Again, I encourage you to participate in our course, Preparing for Success after Prison. But also, open your personal profile by sending an invite to [email protected]. You should memorialize your journey, showing all the ways that you’re extraordinary and compelling. 

Critical Thinking:

For those who need a prompt, consider writing your response to the following question, and send it to [email protected] as part of your journal entry:

  • Describe your thoughts about resources you think you will need to recalibrate in society upon release. Discuss the ways that you’re working to build those resources.

With hopes that you become a member of our community, I send my regards.

Michael Santos,

Founder, Prison Professors

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