Set Goals and Develop New Habits

Set Goals in 4 Steps

Step 1: Determine your goal.
This is the first and most important step in achieving anything. It’s important to set a goal that’s ambitious but realistic.

Step 2: Turn your goal into specific activities.
If your goal is being happier, schedule activities to help you get there over time, like going to the movies, listening to music, or getting a dog. If your goal is getting into better shape, specific activities such as strength and cardio training two or three times a week will get you there.

Step 3: Track your progress.
Keep a journal of your activities.This will let you see what you’ve accomplished. When you go to the gym, are you lifting heavier weights? Are you feeling less breathless when you take the stairs? Write down your progress.

Step 4: Believe in yourself.
Believing in yourself is part of loving yourself. This can be the hardest step of all. Many people who’ve been incarcerated have a hard time doing this.

Develop New Habits

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” A different way to say this is to fake it until you become it.

Leaving incarceration is the perfect time to develop new habits. Identify the new habit you want. Then develop a strategy to get there. For example, if you want to improve your health, you'd start cooking healthy meals at home instead of eating take-out, or you'd go for a walk or to the gym instead of watching TV.

Another way to change a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit, such as replacing drinking or using drugs with exercise. Lifting weights, running, biking—all these activities reward your brain with dopamine, which makes changing a habit a bit easier.