I’m finishing up my New Year’s Resolution series this week with an article about starting over after getting a criminal conviction. We all make mistakes, and unfortunately, for some those mistakes seem to linger more than for others. So, if recently released from jail or prison and want to make 2015 your best year yet, you have to put your conviction in your past. I know that this is easier said than done, but it is possible. Here, learn about some simple changes that you can implement in your life to put your criminal conviction in the past and find the fresh start that you deserve.
Reflection is one of the best ways to determine how you got to this point in your life and how you can make positive changes. Make a plan of changes that you can make and stick to. If you realize that you have anger issues, consider going to therapy and finding other outlets for your frustration. If you have a problem with alcohol, go to alcoholics anonymous, figure out your triggers, and make a plan for how to deal with them. Reflecting on your past mistakes – whether that is through writing in a journal, talking with a friend, or seeing a therapist – can help you understand yourself and make positive changes.
Find Healthy Ways to Deal With Stress
There are tons of outlets for anxiety and frustration that are healthy – joining a sports league, eating healthier, writing, making music, going to the gym, getting more sleep are just a few options. If you have trouble dealing with stress, find a new way to manage it.
Don’t Associate with the People That Got You into Trouble
This is one of the most difficult ways to move on from a criminal conviction, but it is also effective. If you got involved in illegal activity with all of your closest friends or your family members, you might feel like you can’t distance yourself from them, and you probably won’t want to. These people might mean the world to you, and you might not be able to imagine your life without them. However, you should seriously consider distancing yourself from these people if you want to avoid future criminal activity.
Constantly hanging out with the people you sold drugs with or the people you robbed stores with will tempt you to continue this behavior. Even if you vow to never partake in illegal activities again, being with people who do illegal things can get you into trouble. If you really feel that you cannot cut these people out of your life, you should at least not spend time with them when you know they will do something illegal.
Don’t Violate Probation
If you’re on probation, you should comply with your probation agreement. Meet with your probation officer at the appointed times, and don’t commit illegal activity while still under the supervision of the state.
Apply for a Pardon
As I talked about last week, you can get a true fresh start by applying for a pardon and having your criminal history erased. This will help you get a job and give you more confidence.
Turning your life around is no easy task. You might slip up and make mistakes, but don’t let this discourage you. If you are committed to a fresh start, it can be yours. If you’ve been making positive changes in your life, please drop me a comment below telling me how you did it. I’m sure that your experience can help others!