Action in federal prison

I'm in the process of writing a blog that chronicles my last day in federal prison. I also think I'm going to film a video on the subject. In fact, maybe I'll film the video, then transcribe it for my blog. Yes, that's what I'll do!

Taking Action In Federal Prison

Taking Action In Federal Prison

I wanted to share a few thoughts about taking action in federal prison. Any follower of my work, knows that I am very hard on myself. I placed a lot of expectations on myself in federal prison and upon my release.

It is hard for me at times to take credit for anything good that I do. Unfortunately, I tend to focus more on what I could be doing. It's just a tendency I've had throughout my life. As a baseball player, if I got two hits in a game, I wondered why I didn't get three. It's just how I'm wired.

Still, while I'm hard on myself, I am also able to give myself credit every now and again. And I can properly give myself credit for taking appropriate action in federal prison.

Upon my surrender to Taft Federal Prison Camp, I listened to a lot of good men talk about what they wanted to do both in federal prison and upon their release. Then weeks later I realized they were continuing to talk about it, but not acting.

Rather than ask why, I went about my own business. I decided early on that I wanted to do more than talk: I wanted to take aggressive action to prepare for my life after federal prison.

Taking action in federal prison began with identifying exactly what my target goals were. My initial target was not to make money, but rather authentically and openly document my experience through the criminal justice system. I did that by way of my prison blog and book.

I learned early in in my prison term that without a specific target I would never know if I was on track. Because of my blog, I could measure progress. I could measure how many words I was writing, and how many people were actively following my work. Further, I could measure my progress as a writer and much more. I didn't just talk, I did it. It was also very difficult.

Moving along, I just didn't talk about exercise, I did it. Whether it was freezing or hot, I got in my long runs early in the morning. I identified fitness as a very important value to me. Because it was a high value, I worked at it each and every day.

Again, I had a specific fitness target. More than just saying that I was going to run, I set a running goal every month.

That way I could reverse engineer my way backwards. In other words, if I wanted to run 250 miles a month, I knew on average how much I would have to run each day. Taking action in federal prison is important, but there must be a specific target in mind.

Experience in federal prison taught me that misperceptions often got in the way of prisoners taking appropriate action in federal prison. For example, many prisoners would state that life is much harder for a felon, so preparing was a waste of time. Others would state that because of their conviction they could not get a good job or make good money so what was the point of taking action. They acted their way into an outcome. Because of that, they never actually got started.

I attribute my success through prison to not just taking action, but to identifying exactly what it is I wanted. I wanted to leave federal prison spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared to overcome all of the obstacles that the awaited me. Taking action in federal prison was the best thing I did!

Once I identified my target goals and my priorities, I was able to work towards them on a daily basis. My routine was never geared towards wishing or hoping. Because I identified my target, I could pivot if I wasn't on track. To do anything successful in federal prison, one must do more than talk: one must act and act correctly.

Justin Paperny