Journal Entry 

 Wednesday, January 24, 2024 Michael Angelo and Goals 

Michael Santos

Michael Santos

When I was in prison, I remember reading about Michael Angelo. He was a renowned Italian artist of the High Renaissance, famous for his masterful works in painting, sculpture, and architecture. Born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, Italy, Michelangelo became one of the most influential artists in the history of Western art.

His most famous works include:

The Statue of David:

A masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, created between 1501 and 1504. It represents the Biblical hero David and is renowned for its exquisite detail and representation of the human form.

The Sistine Chapel Ceiling: Painted between 1508 and 1512 for Pope Julius II, the ceiling features intricate biblical scenes, including the iconic image of the Creation of Adam.

The Last Judgment: A massive fresco covering the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, depicting the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgment of souls.

Michelangelo’s influence extended beyond his artworks. He was also known for his poetry and philosophical writings, which provided insight into his creative process and artistic philosophy. His legacy is characterized by his innovative approaches to art and his contribution to the development of Western art history.

I remember reading about his ideas on setting goals. People quoted him as saying, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short. Rather, the danger is that we aim too low with our goals, and the we achieve our mark.” 

Let’s break down this powerful idea, especially in the context of setting goals in prison.

Understanding the Concept:

Michelangelo’s wisdom highlights a common trap: the fear of setting high goals. It’s easy to play it safe with low goals, but this approach can limit our growth and potential. In prison, where circumstances are already challenging, it’s tempting to set minimal goals, thinking that’s all we can achieve.

For example, when I was in prison, many people set the goal of getting a GED. Once they got a GED, they believed that they had completed their formal education. Getting a GED is a great strategy, but it’s not a great strategy to stop pursuing educational goals after the GED–unless you want to be poor.

Instead, set high goals for yourself.

Setting high goals is an act of courage and optimism. It’s about envisioning a future that transcends your current situation. For me, a high goal was educating myself and planning a career post-release, despite the barriers of the prison system. I aspired to earn my first $1 million within five years of getting out of prison.

The preparations I made in prison put me on track to earn many times that amount during my first ten years of liberty.

I encourage you to dream big. Perhaps your goal is to earn a degree, learn a trade, write a book, or start a business plan for when you’re released. Remember, the value lies not just in achieving the goal, but in the person you become while striving towards it.

Setting a goal is just the start. The crucial part is building a realistic, step-by-step plan to achieve it. This plan should include:

  1. Education and Skills Development: Identify the knowledge and skills you need to achieve your goal and seek ways to acquire them, even within the constraints of prison.
  2. Milestones: Break your goal into smaller, achievable milestones. Celebrating these small victories keeps you motivated.
  3. Adjusting the Plan: Be flexible and ready to adjust your plan as needed. Obstacles are part of the journey.
  4. Perseverance: High goals require persistence. You might face setbacks, but it’s important to keep moving forward.

Seek support from mentors, educators, or fellow inmates committed to positive change. In prison, building a supportive network can be crucial for encouragement and guidance.

The Power of Example:

As someone who has walked this path, I can attest to the transformative power of setting high goals and working relentlessly towards them. Your time in prison can be a period of profound personal growth, setting the stage for a successful, fulfilling life after release.

In conclusion, remember Michelangelo’s wisdom. Aim high, work hard, and let your goals stretch your capabilities and imagination. The journey towards these goals will equip you with strength, resilience, and skills that last a lifetime.

Critical Thinking:

If you’re not memorializing the journey to prepare for success after prison, then start by sending an email to [email protected]. Then, provide an answer to the following question:

  • Describe the goals you set to achieve within the next 10 years, and the goals you set to achieve within the next ten months. Describe how those goals relate to the person you aspire to become.

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

Respectfully,
Michael Santos
Founder, Prison Professors