New Year Resolutions

By Daniel Goldsmith, from insidetime issue January 2010

Daniel Goldsmith offers ten resolutions for prisoners that could be set for 2010 …

New Year Resolutions1. Strengthen my body
As prisoners, we are forced to live largely sedentary lifestyles. It’s easy to fall into the trap of laying on your bunk for hours at a time watching television or sleeping. This year I will not let that happen! I will go to as many gym sessions as I possibly can. I won’t necessarily lift heavy weights but I will forge a strong body with regular resistance training; and a strong heart with regular cardiovascular training. Of course if I haven’t been to the gym in a long time, I will seek medical advice first!

2. Strengthen my mind
Incarceration can have a pernicious effect on my mental health but I will guard against that with regular sessions of meditation. If I don't know how to meditate I'll just sit in silence for ten minutes a day with my eyes closed, breathing deeply. As I start to enjoy this daily practice I'll go to the prison library and borrow a book on meditation techniques to broaden my knowledge and strengthen my experience.

3. Stop indulging in self-pity
I’m going to say goodbye to self-pity. It’s not that I necessarily think I’m guilty of overly indulging in self-pity, however just like a weed it grows out of control if left unchecked. It’s also just as ugly. I’ve noticed a lot of people who seem to bask in self-pity; it’s most certainly not an endearing quality. If I find myself wallowing in self-pity I’ll spare a moment to remember those worse off than me.

4. Maintain a healthy diet
It should be easy in prison yet, as we all know, it's surprisingly difficult. This year I'll try to make sensible menu choices so that my diet is as balanced and nutritious as possible. If the food is nasty (let's get real, this is prison!) I'll make regular complaints which will hopefully help to improve the quality of the food. I'll try to eat as much fruit as I can. If I can afford it, I'll supplement my prison diet with healthy options from the canteen.

5. Engage with my sentence plan
I might not agree with my sentence plan; I might not even agree with my conviction, but nonetheless I'll try to engage with it fully. A pilot reaches his destination by taking the path of least resistance; there's an analogy in there somewhere with those of us trying to regain our freedom.

6. Choose my associates carefully
It is always important in life to choose your friends and associates carefully and this is especially important in prison, where meticulous files are kept on who we associate with on a regular basis. If I associate too freely with those who are up to no good, I must reasonably expect to be tarnished with the same brush, even though I might not deserve it.

7. Treat myself
This year, I shall treat myself to something nice; perhaps a new top, a book, or even a sound system. I’ll purchase it from my prison wages rather than asking family or friends to assist with the cost. That way I’ll be able to enjoy that special feeling of satisfaction that only comes from striving hard for something.

8. Educate myself
I have a unique opportunity to educate myself in any field of endeavour I choose. Perhaps I might like to get my basic skills in place, or start an OU course, or even learn a trade for my eventual release. Whatever my choice, I am going to use this abundant time I currently have as an investment in my future.

9. Try to save regularly
Saving is a good habit to develop, not only so that you've got a few quid when you get out but also because it helps build self-discipline. I'll try to set aside a pound or two a week in a prisoner's savings account. It'll be nice to get out of prison with more than just a £47 discharge grant.

10. Do something good
This year, I'll try to do something good. I might make a small contribution to charity or lend an ear to a friend in need; maybe I'll offer a smile to someone who looks lonely, or help someone write a letter.

Feel free to make your own resolutions but remember to stick a copy on your pin board to remind yourself of them everyday.

* Daniel Goldsmith is currently resident at HMP Gartree

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This article appears under the following categories...
Prison Writers

Summary of headlines for January 2010
Prison overcrowding ‘is to be deplored’
Month by Month
Internet for prisoners in Norway
Suppression of literature
Current page: New Year Resolutions
An injection of truth
Women in male prisons
‘Prisoners are civically dead’
If I had the vote
‘Security should not strangle regimes and innovation’
That was the week that was
Where there’s a will…
Partners or wives
Bloody politicians
Access to banking
What Choice?
Foreign Nationals and the secret policy
Prisoners can sue
Restraint & Receivers

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