“Becoming a Joyful and Productive Lifelong Activist”
Syllabus (c)2009-2012 Hillary Rettig. All rights reserved.
Information subject to change.
Please see testimonials below the syllabus. If you’d like me to give this class, or any part of it, at your activist venue or group please email me. I can also deliver it online. — Hillary
This four-part class helps liberate activists from the internal and external constraints that are frequent causes of underproductivity, blocks, and burnout. In four highly participatory sessions, we discuss the major categories of constraints and how to liberate yourself from them. We also do exercises that help you (1) gain insight into your situation, goals, and challenges; and (2) develop the kinds of near-effortless work habits that lead to prolific output and a successful and fulfilling activist life.
I. Liberation from Procrastination and Perfectionism
Procrastination and perfectionism are not moral flaws; nor are they caused by laziness, lack of discipline, or lack of commitment. Rather, they are habits rooted in fear; and the great news is that once we start properly characterizing and alleviating our fears, our procrastination and related problems are often remarkably easily solved. In this session, we delve deep into the underlying mechanisms of procrastination and perfectionism, and once we’ve characterized the problems, we then of course move on to the solutions, which are implementable immediately and usually yield quick improvement.
2. Liberation from Resource Constraints
What resources do you need to work productively? More than you might think! We discuss the dozens of tangible, internal, and community resources needed to do activism; and also the most common activist projects and roles and the requirements for each. Finally, we examine the crucial roles of money and luck in our activist work, and how to function in the presence or absence of both.
3. Liberation from Time Constraints (Values-Based Time Management(tm)
We discuss the true importance and value of time, and the fundamental behavioral shift that happens when someone starts to truly value his or her time. We also discuss the principles underlying effective time management, and the habits of good time managers vs. poor and aspiring ones. We also discuss how to budget and track your time, including guidelines for prioritizing; non-exploitative forms of delegation, and other techniques for reclaiming your time; how to set and defend your boundaries; techniques for collaborative problem-solving; and how to cope with a day job that takes major time from your mission.
4. Liberating Yourself From Fear of Rejection and Internalized Oppression
Rejection is intrinsic to activism, and so the ability to cope with it is fundamental. Many activists understandably fear rejection, and that fear elicits unproductive behaviors such as working mainly in the “echo chamber” of people who already agree with you, or the kind of unstrategic, ineffective activism that famed activist Henry Spira called “hyperactivism.” Fear of rejection can also cause burnout and/or a decision to leave activism. In this session, we discuss the many forms rejection can take (there are dozens), how context can determine one’s response to a rejection, and what makes a rejection “traumatic.” Then we discuss how to cope. We then move on to a discussion of the pervasive negative stereotypes about activists and activism, and how to not internalize them. Then, a discussion of “clueless things people say to activists and how to respond to them,” which is always lively. And we end, finally, with a discussion of the glorious truth about activists and activism: that progressive activists are society’s most precious resource, and that, for all of activism’s challenges, those activists who commit to the types of personal liberation we’ve been discussing, yield for themselves lives of extraordinary purpose, meaning, and community.
The response from your presentation was overwhelmingly positive. — Becca Marcus, The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, New York, NY
Your presentation was articulate, interesting, humorous and human, not to mention helpful. — Bonnie Dallinger, Institute for Social and Economic Development, Washington, DC
Our audience of successful entrepreneurs demands a high standard for our guest speakers, but Hillary Rettig’s talks on time management and overcoming procrastination more than met their expectations. — Brandon Mastrangelo, Interise (formerly InnerCity Entrepreneurs), Boston, MA
Boston Skillshare participants attended Hillary Rettig’s workshops in droves and left with strong tools to manage their lives. Participant feedback described Rettig’s workshops as “inspiring and practical,” “invaluable help to get my life on track,” and a means to “truly examine my time management issues.“ — Bart Admonius, Organizer, Boston Skillshare, Boston, MA
Hillary’s message resonated with everyone. Not only did she give helpful practical tools and tips, she helped us get to the underlying issues that stand in the way of being joyful and effective activists. Afterwards, I was swamped with people asking, “where did you FIND her? We really needed this!” —Marisa Miller Wolfson, Fourth Universalist Society, New York City
Hillary’s dynamic, heartfelt workshops not only empowered and inspired our staff members, but provided them with insights and tools that they could use to empower and inspire others, including our clients. As such, Hillary’s workshops provide “double value.” — George Zeller, Jewish Vocational Service, Boston, MA
Thank you for the splendid presentation…our audience was galvanized. — Nancy Rubin Stuart, Cape Cod Writers Center, Osterville, MA
I received emails from attendees the next day saying, “Last night’s lecture was great!” “Great workshop!!!!” “Spot-on.” I highly recommend Hillary’s workshops and I look forward to working with her in the future! — Cristina DiChiera, Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, Providence, RI
You left raving fans in Pittsburgh! The feedback from your sessions has been wonderful and I look forward to working with you again next year. — Jennifer Morris, Pennsylvania Spring Arts Conference, Pittsburgh, PA
Thank you, Hillary, for your gentle wisdom and fierce knowledge – we all remain inspired to make important and valuable changes in our lives. — Suzzanne Cromwell, Cultural Organization of Lowell (MA)
Hillary’s series of talks for our resellers were widely attended and very well received, and were designated a company-wide best practice. — Paul Bazley, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA
The Grub Street community has benefited greatly from Hillary Rettig’s smart, organized, inspiring and valuable seminars. The common refrain in her evaluations is: ‘we want more!’ Hillary is fun to work with, passionate about her mission, and fully engaged with her craft. — Chris Castellani, Grub Street Writers, Boston, MA
So many thanks for such a terrific talk. The group was really energized and inspired. Some talks are merely informative, but yours was many cuts above. — Alix Ginsburg, Ph.D., Temple Emanuel Networking, Newton, MA
Hillary’s class opened up new worlds for me…Since taking her class I have finished writing seven chapters in my new manuscript. —workshop participant
I can’t decide the exact moment my light bulb lit up….but I’ve written 3 chapters. I’m off and runnin’! —workshop participant
Off-the-charts outstanding. Absolutely astonishing. Honest, respectful, encouraging and sincere. She had us all rapt. — workshop participant
Very well structured – definitely not too “soft.” It is empowering to hear someone derail the myths that procrastination is laziness and that being an artist means being tortured. — workshop participant
Your class did exactly what you promised: it got me writing again. I would recommend it to anyone who is blocked. — workshop participant
Your class so far is right on target….I was both astounded and humbled because you sucker punched me in the gut with your accuracy. — class participant
I woke up yesterday (and today) with enthusiasm instead of dread at the thought of working on my novel. I am taking small steps, but taking them with joy. — class participant