3 Lessons I Learned from Prison to Cope With Uncertainty

Craig Stanland
3 min readApr 29, 2020

We are living in uncertain times, and uncertainty undermines your ability to live as you want to live, let alone to create the life you dream of creating.

But there are steps you can take to move away from uncertainty and to start having agency over life.

These are 3 executable practices you can start right now.

Knowing What is and What is Not in Our Control:

Anything that is out of your control does not deserve one second of your most precious resources:

Time. Energy. Attention

Anything in your control deserves all of your time, energy, and attention.

Just this simple step will allow you to prioritize your thinking and will keep you focused on the present.

Presence is an antidote to uncertainty.

  • Make a list of everything that is causing you anxiety
  • Next to each item, write: In My Control or Not In My Control
  • Anything Not in Your Control? Let it go.
  • It CAN be that EASY

Have a Routine:

Routine grounds and connects us to ourselves. Routine gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment to the day. Routine is the foundation of mental resilience, particularly through difficult times.

I’m grateful for the routine I put together in prison, it helped set the foundation of where I am today. Six years later, and I still embrace most of the practices I started there.

Bear in mind; isolation will come to an end — we will go back to a new normal — find a routine that will continue to work for you when the period of isolation is over.

“Discipline equals Freedom” — Jocko Willink

  • Think of a goal/dream/desire
  • What does someone who has already achieved this do every day?
  • Choose 1–3 of those items.
  • Do them. Everyday. Tracking your progress along the way and transforming them into your own.

Express Gratitude:

Uncertainty shakes us to our core. It sucks. Finding things to be grateful for when we are at our lowest and most fearful builds resiliency. We can express gratitude for anything we want, they do not have to be big massive things that are easy to recognize.

When I was in prison I was grateful when I got the mix of my instant coffee and powdered cream to come out right. Not an easy task.

Feeling abundant is an antidote to uncertainty.

The critical step to gratitude, the real game-changer of the practice is this:

Ask and answer: Why? Why am I grateful for this?

  • Before bed: Write down 10 things you are grateful for
  • As you drift off, replay those experiences in your mind
  • Why? Gratitude, when done consistently, literally rewires the brain. From a place of scarcity to abundance. We learn to find the good — not the uncertain.


My mission is to help people whose lives have fallen apart rebuild and reinvent themselves so they can start over and have the extraordinary life they’ve always wanted.

Are you ready to start over? Are you ready to take the first step?

Contact me to schedule a Free Start Over Strategy Session.

Check out my TEDx, “How I Learned My Greatest Worth In Federal Prison.

Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.