Randy sent me an email from a prison in Washington. He sent the email through his sister, Estrella. Randy has been working through one of the lessons I wrote about preparing for success from prison. The strategy that worked so well for me required that I document the journey. At the start of each year I wrote the values by which I professed to live. Then I wrote clear goals that I would work toward achieving within each value category. That strategy encouraged other people to judge me for the way that I responded to my problems rather than for the bad decisions I made that created my problems. By living in accordance with that transparent, deliberate strategy, I built a record of incremental achievements. Over time, people began to develop a vested interest in helping me succeed.
When I work with defendants who anticipate that prison may become a part of their future, I suggest that they prepare for the journey in its entirety. That means they shouldn’t simply dwell on the challenges of today. Instead, they should project themselves into the future. What type of career will they lead upon release? What will their support network look like? What steps can they take while they’re inside to advance prospects for success?
To the extent that a defendant begins to contemplate a successful outcome, the defendant can begin to reverse engineer the course that will work best for him. Some may limit that strategy to a fitness routine. Others may use their time inside to develop their spiritual awareness. Others will want to broaden their knowledge of specific subjects, or earn new credentials.
When defendants begin to contemplate the best possible outcome, the individual puts an end to the vortex of self-pity. By making choices, we empower ourselves. We begin to restore our confidence because we know that we’re building a better future. If we say what we’re going to do, and we document the journey, we make it easier for others to believe in us as the people we are. When we choose not to seize control of our lives, we allow government prosecutors and their press releases to control the narrative. At PrisonProfessor.com, we empower defendants, showing them how to position themselves for the best possible outcome.