The 2020 election year might very well be the most important election of our time. To so many of us, our democracy feels like it is on the line. The rule of law feels like it is on the line. And the soul of our country is on the line.
We will need everyone who cares about the direction of the country to be involved politically in 2020, and then some. We’re going to need to inform our fellow citizens, inspire them to take action, and turn out voters to the polls like we’ve never done before. This will take sustained effort over many months, which of course means, that we’re all going to have to watch out for burnout.
Taking a break is one thing. Getting so burnt out that you check out is something our country can’t afford. It’s going to take all of us. So, how do we stay motivated all year long? Here are 23 ideas that you can use:
- Be clear about what you’re working towards, and why. You want to be very, very clear on what you want to achieve. Be aware that it is near impossible to keep up energy long-term if you take on too much or if the goal is vague. If you had to narrow it down to one goal that you absolutely want to achieve, what would it be?
- Visualize what it looks like (and feels like) to achieve your goal. Maybe you decide to do this with your imagination, or you write it down, or perhaps draw an image of what it looks like. Refer to it regularly.
- Start with small actions that will get you closer to your goal. Build on those small successes.
- Although it is natural to think about how hard achieving a big goal is, be sure to take the time to focus on what will be gained if you do achieve your goal.
- If you’re clear on your goal but aren’t entirely sure how to achieve it, write out all your questions with the prompt, “I don’t know how to _____________.” Then, start researching that topic. Alternatively, send me an email and I’ll see what I can do to help!
- Be sure to take time for yourself. What types of activities help to restore you? Write them down and schedule time to do them on a regular basis.
- Get some exercise.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Find (or get back to) a hobby. Make time to enjoy this activity. When you give so much to others, you need to, as they say, refill your own cup.
- Plug into a community of like-minded people. This could be in person, like a local organizing group or political campaign, or virtual, like a Facebook group or Twitter DM room. Hearing the struggles and successes from people who care about the same things you do is a great way to avoid burnout. Someone in the group can lift you up when you need it, and you can return the favor at some later time.
- Check in on your mental chatter. Is most of what you’re telling yourself about the political work you’re doing positive or negative? Are you hearing a lot of “I can’t” or “I’m not” in your head? Reframe the conversation with yourself to focus on what is positive–the steps you are taking to correct things.
- Keep track of the good work that is happening. You may read about an important win about a special election or issue you care about, or you may be proud that you volunteered for a voter registration event. Write it down, and remind yourself of the good work that is getting done when you’re feeling frustrated.
- Do an assessment of what you’re working on from time to time. Are you working on too many projects and so are too stretched? Consider saying “no” more often or cutting back to only one or two projects you’re the most passionate about. A bonus of digging deep in one or two areas is that you’ll be more plugged into the micro-successes that happen along the way which in turn can motivate you to stay the course.
- Write yourself fan mail. “[P]icturing the change you’ve announced you’re trying to make is an effective way to push yourself to build something that actually generates that action.”
- Break down huge goals into the smallest possible actions you can take to achieve that goal. Then focus on the next small action you will take.
- Get more sleep.
- Listen to music that lifts you up, or gives you a jolt of energy, or whisks your mind away to a relaxing place.
- Be sure to stay connected to friends and family who are good for your soul.
- Add more water and nutritious foods into your day.
- Many of us are fighting because we care about the negative effects this administration is having on people. But be aware that compassion fatigue is real, and it can lead to apathy. Google self-care or check out the resources at the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project to get yourself some support.
- When you come across a quote or video or something that inspires you, hang onto it. Organize those tidbits however you want to, but set yourself up to tap into that inspiration when you need a pick-me-up.
- Bookmark things that make you laugh. Maybe it’s a story, or some memes, or a favorite comedian on YouTube. Research has consistently proved that laughing relieves stress.
- Express gratitude. Because expressing gratitude magnifies positive emotions, it helps to block out toxic feelings and research has shown that it makes people more resistant to stress.
Again, to get this country onto a better track, it’s going to take all of us. These tactics can help keep you engaged with political work for the long haul. Let me know in the replies if there are other things you do to keep burnout at bay and stay motivated for the long haul, so others can see your idea too!
Let’s go win 2020!