Do you want to commit to making an important change?
In my case, have strong opinions about current events. So many strong opinions that I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to do everything: sign petitions, contact my elected representatives, run for office myself, educate myself, educate others…all at once. It was too much.
Whatever change you want to bring about, you may feel beset, too. Here’s what I’ve started doing. I hope it helps you:
First, I picked one issue. How can I convince other people–representatives and voters–if I don’t have a firm grasp on the issue? I can’t do it all, but I can tackle one issue. I see other people picking issues of their own.
Second, I began an activism diary. Every day I write down what I did. If I still feel overwhelmed I leaf through the diary. I feel better when I see what I’ve already done, and I get ideas for what to do in the future.
As I review current events I spot problems. I jot them down in the diary. There are so many players that I can hardly remember them for a few hours, let alone for a few days. If, a week later, I want to remember the name of the junior senator who proposed a ridiculous bill, I have it in my book.
On top of the book’s being a handy reference, experts say that the act of physically writing something down helps me commit it to memory.
Ideally, I’d keep the info in my day planner so that I wouldn’t have to keep track of yet another office supply. But with a ring-bound planner it’s hard to write tidily. That’s fine if I’m jotting down a few words–a doctor’s appointment or my daily gratitude. Occasionally I want to write longer things, such as a complete list. When that happens I remove the pages from the book. In my activism diary, my notes here are longer so I prefer a book I can lay flat.
Instead I’m keeping it in a Moleskine notebook. It’s another aspirational product. A few years ago they were status symbols–the same notebook that Hemingway used! They were somewhat pricey. Now I find them everywhere–they’re class for the masses.
I have a bunch of them lying around. I buy them just because I could afford them, hoping that I’d write something epic in them. Now I have something epic to say, so now’s my opportunity to actually use one. I write on the right side of the page, and on the left I jot little notes about contact info for a particular politician.
It’s saddle stitched, the technical term for pages that are sewn or stapled in the middle, then folded to make a little booklet. It lies flat, making it easy to write in. Plus, you can’t easily remove the pages. You’re stuck with a bunch of blank pages so you better take action to fill them.
If you have something to guest post here, please let me know and I’ll send you a genuine Moleskine notebook of your own, for your own activism diary. As I said, I have a bunch of them. Maybe a Moleskine of your own will embolden you to be the change you want to see.
(In case you’re wondering, I wrote the notes in the picture on Post-it tape. Post-it tape is practical when you shuffle papers–edges of your normal Post-it might get caught on other papers and pull away from your page. Plus, as you see, you can cut off the size you need. I don’t like those ragged ends; so from now on I’m only buying the kind that comes in a dispenser.)