Acknowledgement and Accountability

The day after I was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, I found myself on a call with a Wall Street Journal reporter. When asked about my thoughts on the sentencing, my response was straightforward: “I’m guilty. I deserve to be held accountable.” Reading the coverage in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, I faced the reality of my actions head-on, apologizing to my parents and promising them—and myself—that I’d come out of this stronger.

Making Small Changes

My improvement started with making small changes. For me, it was about saying no to old habits. Standing in a 7-Eleven, contemplating buying chewing tobacco, or driving through an In-N-Out and opting for a Diet Coke instead of my usual order. These choices might seem minor, but they were my first steps towards a healthier life. It’s about setting realistic goals and sticking to them.

Finding My Inner Stoic! 

A turning point came with an email from a victim’s son, wishing the worst for me in prison. Reading those words, I realized they didn’t affect me the way they once would have. This was when I understood I was beginning to change. I was becoming more resilient, learning to let go of the impact of negative comments and press.

The Importance of Starting Early

Looking back, I wish I had started this process before my sentencing. The earlier you start preparing for what’s ahead, the better. It’s about building good habits and making positive changes, no matter how small. This preparation sets the tone for a productive time in federal prison and a stronger, healthier you.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

As expressed in Lessons From Prison, adopting a “slow and steady wins the race” mindset is the key. It’s about making consistent efforts, learning from the actions you take, and knowing when it’s time to pivot. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but with each step forward, you’re making progress.

Act Now

My message to anyone facing similar challenges is simple: start now. Don’t wait for the perfect moment or until things seem unbearable. Begin making those small changes today. My experience shows that it’s possible to turn things around, to face the consequences of your actions, and to emerge stronger on the other side. It’s a journey worth taking, and it starts with that first step, or in my case, not ordering that double double or buying the chewing tobacco!