Life is challenging enough for most people who have a clean record, but it becomes even more so after a felony conviction. So now that you are out of prison and have your sentence behind you, how can you be successful?
Let’s look at this issue.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:
- Losses a Felon Experiences
- Seven Steps to Success
- Stories of Success
- Creating Your Own Plan
Losses a Felon Experiences
You may have had a promising career as an accountant, teacher, or nurse that is no longer available to you because you lost the license or certification that allowed you to work in those fields.
Your personal and family life may also have changed drastically. Spouses and significant others may have given up and moved on.
While your family used to be close, it isn’t any longer, split by the stress of the criminal justice system.
Your supportive friends may be gone with the only ones coming around are those you got into trouble with.
You may feel so isolated.
Following a felony conviction, many civil rights are lost as a penalty for having a felony conviction.
The losses you have experienced are huge, and there are likely to be even more.
Still, it doesn’t have to be a bleak future for you as you move forward. Let’s take a minute and see what is possible to those who want a brighter future and detail a plan for success and the steps that are involved.
First, let’s reflect on an area in which you have already been successful. That is completing your sentence. Maybe you don’t consider that an accomplishment, but it was a success.
We bring that up as something you have already had success with. Of course, it isn’t what you hoped to accomplish as you set out, but you did finish your sentence no matter how long it was. In doing so, you used many of the skills and implemented the exact steps outlined here for success. Keep that in mind as you move forward. We will refer back to that as we cover this issue.
What is more important is the opportunity you have in front of you. Let’s look at an essential area which you undoubtedly want to succeed in. That is finding a job to support yourself and your family.
Now, being successful is not something that just happens. If you sit around waiting for success to come to you automatically, you will have a long wait. No matter what, success is something you have to want and are willing to work for.
In order to be successful you must be honest, honest with yourself, and with others. Without honesty, you can’t truly succeed.
Let’s take a look at the steps to success.
Seven Steps to Success
As this suggests, success is a process. It isn’t a one-step effort either, but it is doable for those who are serious about their future. We will look at what is involved and the steps you will have to go through to find that often elusive success.
Being successful can be broken down into a seven-step process. Here they are:
1. Make a Decision
The first step in being successful is making a decision to be successful. Success isn’t just going to happen or fall into your lap. Anything that is worthwhile in life takes some effort that starts with making a decision.
You don’t have to know exactly what success looks like for you, but you have to be willing to look at the possibilities, beginning with making a choice.
Choice is another word for decision. Choose to succeed; make a decision to succeed.
Just as you decide what to wear in the morning, what to eat, and what to do during the day, you choose to work on your success plan. Every day, you will decide to continue working on your plan. You will renew your commitment one day at a time.
While in prison you made a decision every day whether you realized it or not. You decided to succeed in getting through the day. Now that you are out and likely looking for a job, you must decide each day to carry out certain things, like looking for job openings or completing an application among other things.
2. Have a Goal
You can’t begin a journey to success if you don’t know where you are going. You must have a goal you are shooting for. How else will you know if you have succeeded or arrived at the end point you are looking for?
A goal is the culmination of your steps. Whether it is landing a job, finishing your sentence, or anything else, the goal is what lets you know you have arrived or succeeded.
When you were locked up, your goal was to get out and to get back home again. You certainly remember those times. No matter what happened, you kept that goal of one day at a time until you had completed your sentence.
Now, your goal may be to find a job, so you keep that in mind as you go through the process.
Your goal will help keep you motivated to succeed.
3. Having Determination
Next, to be successful, you have to have determination. You need to be determined to work each day to accomplish the tasks in front of you, the ones that lead you to that goal.
When you were locked up, you were determined to do the job that was given to you, whether it was cleaning, cooking, or some other job. You did this through determination.
Now that you are out and trying to get a job in the civilian world, you must be determined and keep that determination to find a job no matter how long it takes or how many applications you have to fill out.
No matter how many rejections you receive, you must maintain your determination to get a job. The next application could be the one that lands you that position.
Keep that determination until you succeed at what you want. You may need to have your record expunged, but you can look into that.
4. Have a Strong Mind
No matter where you are or what you are doing, you cannot be successful unless you put your mind to it.
Again, when you were incarcerated, you may have been physically in prison, but where was your mind? Your thoughts were on going home. Your mind was free to wander away from that cell you occupied. They could lock you up physically, but they couldn’t prevent your mind from being free. No one could take that away from you. You could be where you wanted to be without those bars holding you inside.
Now, you need a strong mind to persist until you get a job and to keep it in order to support yourself and your family.
Strength of mind can carry you through when you don’t think you can make it. So stay mentally strong. Put your mind to it and find a way to succeed even if others around you doubt you.
5. Stay Positive
You have to remain positive in order to succeed. How can you reach your goals if you are filled with self-doubt? Well, you can’t. Succeeding means having a positive outlook. Now, that doesn’t mean that there is never a negative thought. Those will happen. What it means is that you don’t lose that positive outlook. Redirect your mind away from the negative and take up that attitude of positive thinking.
Even when things seem hopeless, you have to believe and keep most of your thoughts in a positive direction. There may have been days in prison when you just didn’t think you could take another day, that this was it. You may have been ready to give up.
Keeping positive thoughts will see you through the tough times, and you have certainly seen those times more than enough.
6. Be Willing to Adapt
No matter what happens on that road to success, you can only get to that goal you set by being willing to adapt. Each day and every step along the way is an opportunity to get closer to that goal.
However, not every step is the right one. There will be missteps, ones that could take you off track if you allow it. But, you have to be willing to make changes when necessary. You must constantly evaluate if what you are doing is going to get you where you want to go.
When you were locked up, not everything you did was what you wanted it to be. When you noticed that what you were doing wasn’t going to get you where you wanted to go, you took a moment and adjusted your steps. You changed your thinking when it was necessary.
Also, you changed your actions if they weren’t leading to where you wanted to go.
You were flexible. In looking for work, you have to be flexible. That application you completed may not get you that job. So, adapt. Perhaps that job wasn’t in a field that you may be suited for. Try another and another if you need to. Adapt until you find that success.
It’s out there if you just don’t give up.
7. Have Support
When you are working toward a goal or doing almost anything, it’s a tough challenge to do it on your own. Back to those prison days, you couldn’t have done it all without support from others. There was always someone who was rooting for you and encouraging you along the way.
Whether it was your cellmate, another inmate, or your family or friends on the outside, you got through that sentence with others by your side.
Also, take a moment and think about the times you have been there for someone else. Again, it may have been your cellmate in prison or it might have been a family member or friend. You encouraged and supported them in their efforts to reach some goal.
Stories of Success
There are many stories of success for felons who were locked up for a long time, about who came out of prison and overcame the obstacles to find success.
Whether they stated them in the same way or not, each one used the seven steps to success, perhaps in a slight variation.
The point is they succeeded by following this plan until they got past the obstacles and succeeded.
Kweisi Mfume was a felon who did this. He may not have foreseen himself becoming a senator or president of the NAACP, but he believed he could find a way to make a difference for others. He went on to do exactly this. He was as determined to be a positive role leader as he had been in leading fellow gang members in a life of crime.
Larry Jay Levine is another success story. His actions in committing securities fraud resulted in being incarcerated. This wasn’t his goal, but his actions led him to prison. He decided to find a way out of his dilemma. He realized his mind was his strongest asset, and he based his goal on using that. He succeeded after his release to become a reputable citizen and led a positive life.
Creating Your Own Plan
In order to be successful, you must start by being honest with yourself and others. This is important as you seek to live a new lifestyle that is free of the type of criminal behavior that got you convicted and locked up in the first place.
- Make a plan to find a job or any other thing you want in your life.
- Take the time to plan your success. Have a goal and the determination to reach it.
- Keep your mind strong and don’t let anyone stop you from making the honest effort to succeed.
- Stay positive and adapt as you go along. Evaluate your efforts to find a job and change your strategy as you go.
- Never go it alone. Have significant others by your side for encouragement and support.
You will make mistakes as you go, but that’s OK. Mistakes are part of life. You are not defined by your past mistakes but by how you deal with them. Make a good choice.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to be successful with a felony? What was that like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.