How I Learned to Stop Half-Assing My Life

Craig Stanland
3 min readSep 1
A life lesson learned from gym towels


I’m making the rounds at the gym, looking for trash, towels, and unracked weights.

I do this a few times an hour, and it’s incredible how much of a mess people make.

I’m amazed and annoyed by the laziness of people. The towel bin is at the front of the gym, right by the exit, and still people leave them everywhere.

I collect them and then pretend I’m playing basketball, shooting them into the industrial-sized garbage bin.

I’ve got to add some fun to the job, especially since I went from high six-figure success in corporate to federal prison to working the front desk at a gym and picking up towels and trash.

I always go for the swish, the perfect shot, and I often fall short 90 times out of 100. I think about it, and in all my life, I’d play these little games, trying to shoot whatever into whatever basket.

I’d always fall short. I struggled to remember a time when I overshot the basket.

I never committed to the shot.

And then and there, standing in the middle of the gym, I looked at the towel lying on the floor, short of the basket and realized that the towel was my life.

I’d always fall short because I was always afraid of fully committing to something.

I was okay dipping my toes in, but I’d never dive in head first.

I half-assed my life; I rarely unleashed my full potential.

I’m too afraid to discover what happens if I overshoot the basket.

From that moment on, I made a choice; I didn’t want to fall short of the bin ever again.

It took some adjusting; a lifetime of a softer touch was embedded in my brain, but I got used to it, and it felt good.

I started using the backboard (the wall).

I started making more baskets, but I didn’t care about that; I cared that I was intentionally trying to do something with my shot.

The funny thing is that a tiny shift started appearing elsewhere in my life.

I’d go deeper, push harder, and live more fully.

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.