A Real Chance at a New Beginning

by Brusha Tolise

Starting a new chapter in life after experiencing incarceration can be a challenging but ultimately rewarding process. I was given a Real Chance at a new beginning when I joined the Strive program. Through my experience at Labyrinth Made Goods, I’ve developed strategies that have helped me grow to be the woman I am today. In light of the new year, I want to highlight how setting goals for myself every year has made a positive impact on my journey since being incarcerated and how working through them step by step is so important.

Some people like to make resolutions with every new year. But, to me, resolutions always seem to have a history of being broken or forgotten by the end of the year. Setting goals, on the other hand, has been a more reliable way for me to improve and grow. Setting goals and boundaries for myself have played a major role in my journey since experiencing incarceration. It can be difficult to know where to start when given a Real Chance at a new beginning. By setting goals, you can pinpoint the things that you want to improve on and accomplish and set boundaries to limit possible obstacles that could keep you from accomplishing your goals. I have also found that breaking down my goals into steps makes them easier to accomplish and less overwhelming.

For this 2023, I have made two main goals. My first goal is to stay organized and pace myself to avoid getting overwhelmed. This goal is very important to me because sometimes the combination of my work life and home life can cause me to feel like I can’t do the things I want to do. And when you’re overwhelmed, it can be easy to forget what you’re working so hard for. Whether it is life or work, things can pile up and one can feel weighed down and defeated. With this goal, I want to push myself to stay focused and organized and not let the challenges I face outside of work affect the work I put into helping women like me who have experienced incarceration. 

My second goal for this year is to learn new ways of thinking and to improve my professional skills. With my job being to build relationships with business partners, the more I improve my professional skills the clearer and more comfortable I can be with my communication. A major part of my job is to put myself, my team, and our company in front of potential business partners and communicate our mission and sell our products. From that, they decide whether they want to work with us, and I want to be able to represent us and myself the best I can. Another part of my job is keeping a connection with business partners and that can be scary but overall empowering to see that what I’m doing is making a difference. I’ve been able to see how far I’ve come and the improvements I’ve made in my life from being incarcerated to becoming a Strive graduate, a Business Apprentice, and now a Sales Assistant for Labyrinth Made Goods. 


Part of what I have learned about the goal-making process is to not get too discouraged when a step toward accomplishing your goal doesn’t go your way. Take a moment to reevaluate and have people around you help get you back on track. The Strive and Labyrinth Made Goods community have taught me that there will always be people in my corner who will believe in me and who will help guide me in the right direction. 

The women in my corner like Kate and Candice gave me the confidence and strength to step into the position I am in today. They encouraged me to have faith in my work with the knowledge that there are people outside of my family that value and believe in me. They are the reason I feel empowered to make big life-changing goals for myself. 

Advice For Women Like Me

Fighting for your Real Chance at a new beginning can be discouraging but know that there are organizations like Labyrinth Made Goods that will stand with you and give you the Real Chance you deserve. 

When making goals for yourself, take time to evaluate and pinpoint the things you truly want in your life. And remember that it is okay to put yourself first sometimes when working toward achieving your goals and setting those boundaries in life. 

For women like me who have experienced incarceration, setting goals and working towards them can be an important step toward rebuilding your lives and creating a positive future. Whether it's finding a job, reuniting with loved ones, or simply finding a sense of purpose and belonging, setting goals can provide a sense of direction and motivation. By focusing on the possibilities that a new beginning can bring and by taking small but meaningful steps toward achieving your goals, you can create a brighter future for yourself and those around you.