How to Start Taking Action
Starting is the hardest step in making a change. Whether it’s learning a new skill, forming a new habit, or deciding to take a more active part in the democratic process. Setting realistic goals and ramping up slowly to where you want to be is sound advice, especially when gearing up to become an activist.
My experience with activism had always followed the same timeline. First, something tragic would happen, and I’d immediately want to do something. I’d research the issue, and every time, would come to the conclusion that ‘fixing’ the cause of the issue was so intrinsically complex, that I’d feel stuck. Then, I’d vow to stay up to date with the state of the world better. Check the news, proactively search for information, and look for volunteer work I could do that would have value. Inevitably, after a handful of weeks, the weight of reality would affect my mood and I would bail.
Wanting to immerse fully in activism is noble, but can lead to complete disengagement. Balancing the short term energy with your schedule and what you can do without burning out will keep you from bailing. You can combat activism fatigue by ramping up slowly and taking temporary breaks as you need them.
Here are some steps that I’ve been taking to combat activism fatigue.
- Add your representatives numbers into your phone now. The barrier of having to look them up makes an easy excuse not to call. While you’re at it, make sure you know who your reps are.
- Decide on how much you can do to start, and where you want to eventually get. Doing one call a week is an entirely reasonable start.
- Find a friend, or group of friends, that you can make calls with. Set aside the first 15 minutes of time together to all make a phone call to all your reps.
- Set a recurring alarm and/or block off time on your calendar to make your calls. The more you build the time into your schedule, the harder it is to skip.
- Find the issues and bills you care about most, and learn how you can be more involved in those. It’s easier to stay engaged when you have a personal connection to the cause and makes for a better phone call.