Working Activism into our Daily Lives in 5 Steps

For many of us in this political reality, a new ball has been thrown into our life-juggle: Activism. How do we fit activism into our daily lives so that we stay engaged and keep the fire burning without the burnout? Many of us don’t have a lot of experience with this, and are learning from the ground up. I am beginning to see very clearly that creating the changes we want from ourselves, our communities, our local politicians—and all the way to the executive branch—is going to require forming new habits of taking small actions every week.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Lindley Mease, co-founder of Blue Heart, about how to make activism a regular part of our daily lives. We had just happened to have read the same book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and were struck by the simplicity of building new life habits. 

Today, in an effort to help folks create effective Activist Habits for the long haul, we share Blue Heart’s 5 Steps to Create Activist Habits:

Our inboxes and social media feeds have an avalanche of calls to action these days. But without intentional planning, most of us will make a call or two and then drop off. Sustained action requires habits.

Here we offer a short guide to help you create habits around civic engagement that feel impactful, manageable, and fulfilling.

1) Set an achievable, specific goal with a deadline. What is one behavior you want to try? It could be political (e.g., making calls weekly), economic (e.g., giving monthly), social (e.g., organize an event), or personal (e.g., self-care routine).

Example: “I am going to call my Congressional representatives about [X issue] every Monday morning for 1 month.”

Write it down.

2) Identify a trigger to tie your new habit to. What is the time, place, or event that will trigger this new habit? Identify a regular cue that will prompt the behavior - this is critical for it to stick!

Example: “I am going to make the calls right after I sit to drink my coffee at my kitchen table.”

Write it down.

3) Identify a reward for yourself if you meet your goal. What can you give yourself when you achieve your goal?

Example: “Each day I complete the 3 calls, I will celebrate by listening to my favorite Beyonce album on my way to work.”

Write it down.

4) Make a plan. Research tells us we need ~3-4 weeks to make a new habit stick and that we are more likely to achieve goals if we create a specific plan. What are you going to do tomorrow or this week to practice? What are the specific barriers you need to overcome?

Example: “I am going to enter and save the contact numbers of my Congressional reps in my phone tonight. I am going to write down the short call script on a post-it and put in above my coffee grinder.”

Write it down.

Optional: Invite someone to do it with you. Making a plan with a buddy increases the likelihood of following through and making habits stick.

5) Review, revise, and repeat! How did it go? If you didn’t achieve your goal, what got in the way? Tweak and try it again.

Reflect on it. Write it down.

Use this guide to help re-engage yourself every time you hear the call of a new Action that resonates with you, your family, or your community.

There are so many things we can do to take care of ourselves and take action in this political moment. Civic engagement is a marathon, not a sprint! It will take some experimentation to figure out what type of contribution works best for you.

We hope that this guide will help you set achievable goals, taking small steps towards action and turning them into habits that will last a lifetime.

Join Blue Heart to support the movement-builders on the front lines of social change and stay connected to opportunities to be civically engaged on issues that matter. 

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