Marko Avramovic/ Class 5: Self-Improvement

by Marko Avramovic

126. When you assess your environment, what opportunities for self-improvement can you create or seize? 

I try to distance myself from other prisoners because I cannot let anybody slow me down. I do associate with some people but the best way for me to learn something is on my own. 

127. What is your interpretation on the value of self-imposed structure of free time? 

Having a schedule based on what you are going to work is important just for the simple fact that you remind yourself all the time what your goals are and that leads you to success. 

128. What relationship do your daily activities have to the vision you have for your life upon release? 

Everything I do in here is going to benefit my life upon my release. From exercising to reading and writing.  I am changing physically and trying to change mentally so I can show the world that the prison does not make who I am. 

129. Imagine that you were to replicate your activities or use of time yesterday every day or your sentence. If you did, what level of  preparation would have to triumph over the obstacles that await you upon your return to society? 

Yesterday I got up at 5am, worked out from 5:45-7am.  Ate breakfast, took a shower, went to work at 8am.  While at work I try to memorize 20-30 new Spanish words each day!  11am lunch and I was back in my room studying Spanish and going over my book.  5pm workout again (stomach and cardio), 7:15 dinner.  So if I continue like this, I will be just fine. 

130. What activities within the prison environment can you pursue that will enhance your strengths?  

I developed an ability that I did not have before I came in and that is listening and observing the people around me.  It helps me understand how people move, why they do what they do, different cultures, etc. and all of this is going to help me reach my goals on the outside.                    

131. What activities within the prison environment would you categorize as a weakness? 

Anything we do in here to waste our time and that is table games, watching TV, talking empty and so on.  I repeat again, prison is what you make out of it.                                                

132. What activities within the prison environment would you perceive as offering opportunities? 

Now to learn over here, we got all the time in the world to work on ourselves and if we choose wisely, we can do whatever we wanted. 

133. What activities within the prison environment do you perceive as threatening your prospects for success upon release? 

Dealing with a simple minded inmates.  By this I mean getting involved in situations that can cause conflicts.  We know what we can do but we can just guess what another is capable of doing over a TV, table game or sports.

134. To what extent do the activities you pursue inside the prison environment contribute to your strengths and opportunities? 

Just the fact that I have a big number of people around me that show me support and love, show me that I am doing something right.  I work hard and the results started showing.  My will to change brought me to you guys and I think that is a big deal. 

135. What steps do you deliberately take to minimize your exposure to weaknesses and threats? 

As I mentioned above, staying away from trouble-making people and places is the best way to avoid problems. 

136. Using the SWOT-assessment technique, how would you assess your decision-making process prior to imprisonment? 

It is sad that I had to come to prison to realize what the real values of our life are.  I made bad decisions, left and right, did not think about the future at all, just money and partying.  Decision making process BAD! 

137. In what ways can the SWAT-assessment technique guide your decisions as you prepare for success upon release? 

It makes us see our weak points, our strengths, helps us prepare for the challenges that await us after we go out. 

138. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant one: low-risk/high-reward? 

Activities that I do on my own such as studying, reading and writing, exercising, thinking, etc. 

139. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant two: high-reward/high-risk? 

Playing against the system in order to gain something good for yourself.  Michael had an experience when he tried to collect the date for his book about the prison system and they sent him across the state line and he could not see his family, etc. 

140. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant three: low-risk/low-reward? 

Watching TV, playing games, wasting time in global.  Everything that is done in order to just pass time falls in this group. 

141. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant four: high-risk/low-reward? 

Everything that involves a disciplinary action against an inmate.  That is called hustling in prison and it is never worth it but some people are in a bad position and they do it. 

142. To what extent do your consider risk-reward analysis when assessing activities, interactions, or time allocation in prison? 

I am always aware of my surroundings, I mean, you have to be and I am the one who chooses what I am going to get myself involved in, based on the risk level. 

143 What type of self-improvement programs would enhance an individual’s prospects for success upon release?  

Any class that is gonna teach us something new and useful might be very helpful.  Classes such as welding, core class, automotive, Microsoft word, etc.,  All of those classes are helpful because they teach you new ways to get money. 

144. What thoughts have you given to the type of employment you want to pursue upon release? 

Since the first day I got locked up, I kind of knew that I wanted to be in fitness world and I want to open up a language school. 

145. Define the qualifications necessary for the type of job you want to pursue? 

FITNESS:  knowledge first of all and the HFPT license.  MY SCHOOL:  also knowledge and certificates to show the proof of the knowledge. 

146. How do your self-improvement programs prepare you for the type of job you want to pursue? 

It gives me more info on the subject, I can see different situations, different scenarios.  I can basically improve my level of understanding and knowledge. 

147. What types of self-improvement programs can you pursue independently that will enhance your prospects as a candidate for employment upon release? 

Writing, speaking, reading skills are always good to work on.  One has to set up the goal and to figure out what is the necessity for the job he is looking for upon release and just work on that.

148. In what ways do academic credentials influence an individual’s candidacy for employment? 

It is important to have something to show when you apply for work because you have to remember in the eyes of the employer we are just a man at first with a criminal record. 

149. How do prospective employers gauge the value of academic credentials?

All of them prefer people with a degree no matter where you go.

150. What types of self-improvement steps trump academic credentials? 

Honesty, dignity and basically being a man.  No degree or university can give you that.  You have to work hard in order to get an honest and good life.


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