I find a lot of wisdom in an old Chinese proverb that I’ll paraphrase as:
If you want to know the road ahead, ask someone walking back.
That statement made a great deal of sense to me. Statistics made clear that most people who served time in prison, for any reason, faced challenges upon release. A person with a criminal background would face many types of collateral consequences upon release. To overcome those obstacles, a person needs a plan.
To help more people, we’re producing a new self-directed workbook. We want people to learn the same lessons leaders taught me about building iterative release plans.
The plan must begin with an honest assessment of the complications in our life at present. Where are we, and what challenges do we face?
We must define success, showing we know what we want. Then, we must show our ability to engineer a plan to carry us through a crisis. If things go wrong, our plan allows us to adjust.
I’ve been writing about the importance of release plans for many years. They guided me through prison and helped me work toward a higher level of liberty and affluence after I got out.
I’m still very much committed to making plans. Plans help us restore confidence and build hope. We all need hope.
In a biblical passage, the author reflects on the unpredictable and often unfair nature of life.
I took another walk around the neighborhood and realized that on this earth as it is—The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor satisfaction to the wise, nor riches to the smart, nor grace to the learned. Sooner or later, bad luck hits us all. No one can predict misfortune. Like fish caught in a cruel net or birds in a trap, men and women are captured by accidents, evil and sudden.Ecclesiastes, Chapter 9, Verses 11-12
The passage reminds us that sometimes, we encounter events and challenges that do not seem to have any logic or explanation. While living in prison (and after we get out), we should always prepare and plan.
We’ve got to:
- Become comfortable with being uncomfortable: Life takes many turns. Sometimes, the decisions that others make don’t seem logical to us. They make us uncomfortable. They anger us. Our plan should keep us moving in the right direction regardless of external forces.
- Set Realistic Expectations: We must know our status and the challenges ahead. Our course, Preparing for Success after Prison, includes a lesson on Johari’s Window. It teaches us to view our challenges from the perspective of others and to set realistic expectations.
- Show our Resilience: Our plans should show that we can navigate crises. Obstacles and obstruction are facts of life. There will always be more to come. When we show that we can cross through crises systematically and restore strength, we inspire others with our resilience.
- Show our critical thinking abilities: Every decision comes with an opportunity cost. If we use our plan to guide our choices, we show that we’re intentional.
- Adjust: We create our accountability metrics to stay on the course of progress. Our plan should put us on a pathway to success as we define success. If obstacles get in the way, we adjust accordingly, showing that we’re the CEO of our life.
A release plan becomes our tool for empowerment and transformation. Planning empowers us to learn from self-reflection and goal-setting. We can more easily identify or create resources and support systems.
A well-structured plan can help us build hope and purpose and lead a life of meaning.