Everyone makes mistakes; some make more serious ones than others. When that happens, they have several roads ahead of them. One of those roads leads to a better life and success. Once you repay your debt to society, you don’t want to repeat past mistakes or make avoidable new ones that could cost you loved ones, dreams, or even freedom. If you have certain bad habits, creating success can be almost impossible unless you face and work to overcome them. The following six bad habits are relatively common among those who have a criminal history:
Sloppiness and Carelessness
When you have a criminal background, you must work extra hard to make a good impression. If you fail to use care when drafting a resume or filling out hiring paperwork, you can lose job opportunities. Sloppiness with interview preparation, such as not looking into a company’s history, can also cause problems. Most employers see these behaviors as an extension of your work ethic, which then causes them to fear the potential for on-site accidents and delays in production. When you present yourself as organized and prepared, they’re more likely to believe that you’re low risk and care about personal and company success. More importantly, you start to see and treat yourself differently in positive ways. You also use time more efficiently, which gives you more time to pursue your dreams.
Tips: To overcome this bad habit, work on your penmanship, if applicable, and pay closer attention to details. If you’re disorganized at home, use online organization guides and tools to help you make improvements. If you are having difficulty focusing or staying organized, speak with your doctor about possible health problems influencing these areas.
Alcohol and Other Addictions
One of the most significant bad habits that someone with regrets often faces is addiction. Some people enjoy losing themselves a little too much in the numbing sensation created by alcohol. According to medical research, alcohol and similar addictive substances like drugs damage tissues, reduce nutrient levels, and adversely impact cognition and the immune and nervous systems. Some addictions are worse than others, but any type can destroy your life, including addictions involving food, sex, technology, gambling, exercise, tanning, and shopping. Alcohol addiction specifically can cause lethargy, slurred speech, poor judgment, bleeding ulcers, permanent brain or liver damage, blackouts, violent behavior, and death.
Tips: Alcohol addiction is a complex problem, but there are ways to overcome it. Many people abuse alcohol or other substances to self-medicate when dealing with severe health problems like seizure disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, and chronic pain. You might also have a hormone imbalance or nutrient deficiency that’s influencing your decisions. If you’re struggling with a health condition, ask your doctor about the latest treatment options. If you’re dealing with an emotional or other mental problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, addictive traits like obsessiveness and impulsiveness, anxiety or depression, seek out one-on-one or group therapy.
Staying in a Bad Job for the Wrong Reasons
Even workers without a criminal record stay in bad jobs. That said, those who have one often feel like they need to prove something to their superiors, co-workers, and themselves. Age sometimes plays a role as well. An older worker might believe that they’re too old to start over. If you don’t have a car, you might also think that you won’t be able to find a job close enough to home to make it worth changing careers or start to fear that the new job might not work out and leave you stuck in a worse situation. Yet, as every day drags out in a job that you hate, you will become less motivated to succeed and possibly start to believe that you’re not worthy of success. You might even stop caring about your performance and lose your job.
Tips: Talk to a career counselor through local county assistance and community action offices. Facing a career move alone can overwhelm anyone. A career counselor can help you create a plan to find a better job and transition out of your current one without the move adversely impacting your employer, work references, or finances.
Not Believing You Can Achieve Your Dreams
The moment you stop telling yourself that anything’s possible, you limit your worldview. People who’ve had a hard life often exhibit self-sabotage behaviors. They might obsess about regrets or negative self-talk. If you’ve repeatedly tried to achieve your dreams and kept hitting obstacles that pushed you back a little more each time, you might feel that you can never succeed at anything you do. Some people in this category are also unable to recognize that dreams change as people age. For example, while at a younger age you might have appreciated the hustle and bustle of a corporate business job. Now that you might be married and have kids, or have new priorities in life, you might prefer staying at home. This can mean a career change for you – and that can be scary, but if you continue to be afraid of change you might not know that there are a variety of jobs you can do at home while self-employed – from writing to consulting. Some jobs even have a high percentage of people who work at home, such as graphic designers. All of these beliefs are typically founded in fear. People fear a lot of things, such as fear of what they don’t know or can’t anticipate, and those fears cause them to overanalyze their decisions, waste time and push their dreams further away.
Tips: To overcome a defeatist attitude, seek help from multiple experts, including your doctor, a therapist, and a life coach or motivational speaker. Always keep in mind that the world won’t end if you fail to achieve some dreams. Also, if you stop trying, you definitely won’t accomplish any of your goals.
Caring Too Much About What Other People Think
Many people gossip and talk about others where they can hear them or behind their backs. Some individuals take these opinions to heart. Caring too much about what other people think of you does nothing more than distract you from your goals. Although you should care about what an employer thinks about your job performance or a partner feels in a relationship, it’s critical that you don’t allow untrue negative opinions about you to become an obsession. Many people with a criminal background are judged for their mistakes. If you’ve left behind the things that took you to that point and you’re doing everything you can to turn your life around, there’s no reason for you to waste time or energy listening to others bring up your past all of the time or judge you harshly.
Tips: Talk to a counselor or therapist. An expert can help you brainstorm strategies to calmly confront detractors, stop caring as much about biased opinions, find new people who appreciate you, and remove from your life anyone who brings you down.
Poor Hygiene and Grooming Habits
Lastly, the way a person looks and smells impacts their relationships. An alcoholic, for example, might turn up at a job interview or work with bloodshot eyes and rumpled clothing reeking of alcohol, sweat, vomit, and possibly urine. They might not notice how bad they look and smell, but people nearby won’t have that problem or difficulty forming negative opinions about them. With proper hygiene and grooming habits, you improve your appearance, mindset, and health. For example, clean, white or off-white teeth make a person look and feel younger and energetic, unlike dirty, yellow teeth that make them look and feel sick or old and worn out.
Tips: Beyond oral care, treat acne, trim your nails and hair, and exercise regularly. If you have a bare wardrobe and a limited budget, never forget the bounty that awaits at thrift stores. These stores not only accept used clothing donations, but also affordable unused retail overstock and off-season clothing. A couple of fresh, undamaged work and casual outfits and a clean, sturdy pair of dress shoes or boots can make all of the difference.
Never worry about being chained down by one or more bad habits forever. The key to overcoming them and preventing their return is to seek help from offline and online expert resources. You must also believe in yourself. Even if you break these habits initially, you could backslide if you lose faith in yourself. Again, everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fails at something now and then. As long as you remember these facts, stay focused on your goals and actively work to prevent bad habits, you can enjoy more doors opening up for you in life.
A felony conviction is not the end of the world; but the beginning to a long journey to prove you can be successful following a conviction. Though each individual’s circumstances may differ, each of us face the same challenges. Housing, jobs, DMV, court costs, family support, education… all starting with the label. We are committed to helping reduce recidivism by helping those with justice involvement and their families thrive post-conviction. We believe in supporting our community to reduce crime and build the economy around us.