In the previous four steps of the Activism Path you
- focused your passion,
- inventoried your gifts,
- considered activism methods that motivate you, and
- decided on your perfect activism opportunity.
In this step, you will set yourself up for success. And you’ll get an activism action plan example to help you create yours. Your action plan will be a considerable part of your success.
An Activism Scenario
Bert is anxious to start his activism work of teaching new volunteers on a hotline center. Since he is a teacher, he knows he can provide the students with excellent training.
Because there is a long list of volunteers, Bill from the hotline center calls to ask him to commit to two nights a week. Bert shows up the first night and finds 25 people in the room. He doesn’t have enough handouts, and he’s flustered. There isn’t enough time for each person to participate in the listening skill–building exercises. And when one volunteer asks about what to do if a person is threatening suicide, Bert does not feel that he answers the question adequately.
When he gets home, tired and frustrated, he goes straight to bed, ignoring his wife. She wasn’t happy about him being away two nights a week in the first place, and she’s not looking forward to more of this behavior.
A Better Scenario
Bert realizes that providing the hotline volunteer training is perfect for him. But he puts time into planning for his activism work.
Bert’s Activism Action Plan Example
Bert considers obstacles he might encounter in his work and identifies areas where he needs more knowledge and resources. Setting moderately difficult goals and getting feedback on how you are doing are crucial to performance in all areas of your life, so Bert sets a SMART goal for his activism. He also considers his stress awareness and coping strategies.
Activism Action Plan
Worksheet: Framework to Maximize Performance
Training I need
I need training on how to teach the skill of dealing with a caller who is threatening suicide. Maybe I can get this in a one-on-one session with Bill?
Reward structure changes needed
When I teach two nights a week my wife gets upset. I neglect my other obligations.
Obstacles to remove and/or tools to get
I need buy-in from my wife.
Better support from the center for copies.
Some time for skill–building.
Worksheet: Activism SMART Goal
In the first week or two of my activism, my orientation stage, what do I want to accomplish?
Specific — be clear about the action you will perform
I will meet with Bill to discuss what I need to get started and get training on the knowledge I need to do my job correctly.
Measurable — how will you know you have accomplished it?
I will create an agenda for the meeting and make sure I cross all items off.
Achievable — make sure your action can be achieved, is realistic
Yes. These issues are not significant but are essential to my goals.
Relevant — does this action move you forward in your cause?Yes. Doing this will make me a better trainer and results in skilled hotline volunteers.
Timely — when will you perform this action?I will schedule the meeting for Tuesday at 10 am.
Checklist: Coping Strategies
- I notice when my self-talk is negative and work to dispute it.
- Rather than creating drama in my head, I use rational thinking.
- My default setting is a positive interpretation of events.
- I keep humor in my life.
- I use spirituality to cope with stress.
- I solve problems with analysis and planning for change.
- I examine my social support systems to ensure I am being supported and supporting others.
- I manage my time.
- I am aware of the reactions of my body to stress.
- I am assertive about my needs.
- I find ways to release pent-up emotions.
- If I need to relax, I distract myself.
- Rather than letting hostile feelings fester, I work toward dealing with them.
- I use meditation or other relaxation methods.
- I exercise.
- I write down what I’m grateful for every day.
I’m pretty good about being assertive about my needs, For example, setting up a meeting with Bill to talk about things I need. Also, I journal each night and always write down one thing I’m grateful for each day.
I’ve really let exercise fall by the wayside. Since my wife is struggling with my activism work as a new obligation that impacts her, I need to ensure I support her needs.
These worksheets and other resources are available in The What’s On Your Sign? Workbook.
Creating his activism action plan made his work a success.
Bert’s meeting with Bill was productive. They reviewed his lesson plan to make sure he covers everything. They agree that this material is essential, but they need to limit the sessions to ten people to provide adequate skill training.
Since Bert’s wife isn’t happy about him volunteering two nights a week, he proposes to Bill two sessions, one night a week instead. His wife is happy that he heard her concern and made different arrangements.
Bert sets a SMART goal for the first session and one to evaluate the program after a month. Also, he sets goals for stress management.
The hotline center is lucky to have a well-prepared and dedicated teacher to provide volunteer training.
Use the Action Plan Example
Set yourself up for success. By preparing ahead of time, you can anticipate obstacles, prepare yourself, set worthwhile goals, and understand how you might react to stress. Since activism can sometimes be challenging, the work upfront will pay off in engagement and impact for your cause.
I teamed with Walden University’s School of Lifelong Learning to create the online course Making a Difference With Mental Health Activism.