Journal Entry: July 18, 2023—Bixler—CEO of Your Life

Journal Entry

7/18/2023 -Bixler-Be the CEO of your Life:

Today’s journal title comes from the Release Plan 2023 Workbook written by Michael G. Santos that I’m using as a guide in the development of my Release Plan (aka Reentry Plan). Although our society uses terms like criminal, prisoner or inmate to describe someone like me, Michael Santos, prefers using the term “justice-impacted person.” It’s certainly more respectful, kind and dignified. He also believes that despite the choices that landed all justice-impacted people in hot water, we still retain the position of CEO of our own lives.

Regardless of whether a justice-impacted person is facing a prison term of one year or 45 years, it’s an experience that necessitates unpretentious humility; and one that undoubtedly changes everyone to a certain degree. I recognize that the choices I make while in prison either establish a plan for my success or elevate the likelihood of my failure. Consequently, I’m documenting the strategies I’m using to ensure success. I’m maximizing and creating resources and measuring my progress. As I discussed in yesterday’s journal entry, one of the resource tools I utilize is a photograph of my Values as I established them during therapy session three years ago. From that, I’m developing a Values Guide.

The Values Guide is a comprehensive expansion of my top 10 core values and documents the process of making important decisions that are in alignment. As also discussed in yesterday’s journal entry, the concept of prioritizing and weighting core values is something I’m still mastering. I feel confident that these tools will help me tremendously in my decision-making. This is especially true when making big decisions during heightened stress and emotion as well as when feeling an increased sense of urgency.

Furthermore, CEO’s must define their end goal so he or she can draft a successful plan to reach it. First, they need to define what success means to him or her?  For Elon Musk, success may mean revolutionizing space travel. For Bill Belichick, success might be winning a seventh Super Bowl. And, for a single mom working two jobs, success might mean having dinner as a family 4 days out each week. The point is that the word means something different for each of us.

(I’m going to reroute this journal for a moment… follow me.) As a little girl, I loved completing the mazes that were printed on the kids’ paper menu. It was a nice way to pass the time. Early on, I’d find the starting point and let my crayon lead the way. I quickly realized that I had no clue where I was headed and ended up at dead end lines everywhere. I quickly learned that wandering aimlessly wasn’t a good strategy so I needed to start by identifying my goal (the “X”). The “X” represented success. Once I had my eye on that, I could accurately and efficiently map out my path to get there.

Success, as I define it, today looks much different than it did ten and twenty years ago. Undoubtedly, it will evolve as I age and enter other chapters of my life. At present, I define success as living with integrity, deliberate purpose, mindfulness and expanding meaningful fulfilling relationships. That means rebuilding trust with the previously established relationships that are mutually loving and supportive. And, it means expanding my network, friends, mentors and professionals who will positively influence my life going forward.  

As I prepare to head to prison on August 22nd, I invest a great deal of time into doing everything possible to improve myself and the value I add to society. I am the CEO of my life and it’s not too late for me to be successful. I can certainly choose to sit in prison, continue beating myself up over what I’ve done, contribute nothing and mark off days on the calendar. Or, I can focus on the success I envision and the example I want to set for my children. I can use my time in prison to work toward those goals. Some justice-impacted people consider success as getting out of prison asap! I won’t lie and say that I’m looking forward to prison life and hope they don’t send me home early. I will say that I accept prison as part of the path I created.  

I’m going to use prison time to continue pursuing my “X”. For me, that is helping others see their potential, define their own success, and draft their own plan. I will use that time to increase my knowledge through reading and accessing the law library resources. Although my financial restitution is paid in full, I still have a debt to society.  Through charitable giving of time, education, skills, and experiences I will work toward repaying that debt, even from behind prison walls. I’ve already identified organizations I want to give my time to and look forward to helping in whatever way is possible and approved by those who hold the authority.

I’ve often heard people say that many relationships in life eventually end or transform because people outgrow each other. In reflecting on the relationships that I had years ago, I recognize that several of my friends were not good for me. I needed people to shoot straight with me and hold me accountable. During the period in which I committed my crimes, I was spending time with unhealthy influences. Let me be clear, they are not responsible for what I did. Yet, I recognize that my decisions were influenced by them.

Pretty quickly after my arrest my friendship circles changed drastically. I abruptly ended some friendships and had a new level of appreciation of others. Without even considering that I am the CEO of my life, I fired people from my life and promoted others. People such as my boyfriend, Robby and my friend Sara are self-assured and live with tremendous integrity. They have no problem holding me accountable. At the same time, they still love and stand by me. The healthiest influences support personal growth and are also willing to have tough conversations that might involve negative feedback. Those relationships are typically infused with authenticity and truth. Those are the relationships I desire and I’m focused on surrounding myself with people who share my values. My family and friend support systems are filled with people who love me and have my back. Concurrently, they fearlessly face me with integrity and brutal honesty, if needed, because sometimes loving someone means caring enough to say what others won’t.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu