More About Hillary Rettig

Welcome to all activists, advocates, progressives, radicals, and other social justice fighters! I wrote The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way during a dark age in American history–the height of the George W. Bush administration. I had been working on another project, a book on entrepreneurship for artists, but was desperate to do something to help the Left. And so I stopped that project (I’ve since restarted it; it should be out in 2015),  to write The Lifelong Activist, a guide to doing sustainable activism while living a happy and healthy life. It was published by the great folks at Lantern Books, who later gave me kind permission to reprint the book in its entirety here so that all activists can use it free of charge.

As I wrote in The Lifelong Activist, I think progressive and radical activists are the world’s most precious resource:

“We tackle the most difficult and important problems— including hunger, war, disease, poverty, violence, cruelty and exploitation— and work to further humanity’s evolution in the direction of compassion and kindness. Conservatives may create more wealth, but we create more of the values, including justice, equality and freedom, that make life worth living. As history has repeatedly shown us, and as we are unfortunately witnessing in the United States today, wealth without the tempering of progressive values and mores leads inevitably to corruption and despair.”

I wish you very well in your activism and other endeavors, and hope you find The Lifelong Activist very useful. Please tell others about it and this site.

About Hillary Rettig


The core of my work is the idea that procrastination, blocks, and other forms of underproductivity are symptoms of disempowerment.

Disempowerment means you’re not missing anything you need to be productive: you’re just separated from, or have lost access to, that which you have–i.e., your strengths, skills, talents and energy. (Laziness, lack of discipline, lack of commitment, and other supposed deficiencies are all symptoms of the disempowerment, not causes, so please don’t focus on them.) All my work is devoted to helping people locate and remedy the disempowering forces in their work and life so that they can reclaim their joyful productivity. More information below, and please email me with any questions you might have.

My Experience

I’m author of Productivity is Power: 5 Liberating Practices for College Students, The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer’s Block, and The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way. I have taught productivity and time-management classes at top writing, business, educational, arts, and community organizations throughout the United States. And my articles have appeared in Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Fortune, Future Buzz, Time Management Ninja, Tomorrow’s Professor, Authors Helping Authors, The Thesis Whisperer, and numerous other publications.

I currently hold an appointment as an Academic Productivity Projects Specialist at Kalamazoo College, where I give workshops and provide individual consultation to students, faculty, and staff.

During a prior career as a technology journalist and consultant, my articles appeared in Wired, Working Woman, Inc. Technology, and elsewhere; I was also interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications. I’ve also appeared as a guest on CBS-TV News, WBAI, WBUR, and other broadcasts.

From 2001 – 2012 I worked as a business coach and microlender at two nonprofit agencies in Boston, roles in which I helped hundreds of people from all backgrounds start and grow businesses in fields including art, technology, personal services, professional services, manufacturing, distribution, and retail. It was in the course of this work that I became acutely aware of the forces that hold so many talented, energetic, ambitious, and visionary people back, and it was this awareness that catalyzed my current mission.

On a Personal Note…

I’m a vegan, free software advocate, and lover of life, dogs, and social justice in all its forms. I’m also a former foster mom of four teenage Sudanese refugees (a.k.a., “Lost Boys”), now all adult and living independently. And I’m a living kidney donor. If you’re a current or prospective vegan, free software advocate, foster parent, or kidney donor, email me and I will support you however I can.

When I was a kid, I mainly wanted to do two things: write and help. And I find that, as an adult, the more time I devote to these activities the happier I am. I’m a classic “late bloomer” who didn’t start coming into my own, professionally or personally, until I was well into my forties, and so I understand first-hand the despair that comes from feeling like you’re not living up to your potential. But I now know what I didn’t know then: that blocks are often easily overcome once you stop blaming yourself for being “lazy” or “undisciplined” and start looking for the real roots of the problem. And so, my main message to others is often, “relax, it’s gonna be fine.”

I believe deeply in the power of perseverance, the amazing possibilities of reinvention, and the benefits of living consciously. Life can be difficult, but it is always deeply fascinating.

I was born in the Bronx, spent time in Ithaca, NY, and Boston, MA, and now live in Kalamazoo, MI. My partner, Jan Tobochnik, is a physics professor at Kalamazoo College.

I hope you enjoy your time on this site and invite your comments and questions.

Two Simple Things You Can Do For Me

If my work has been helpful to you and your work, I’m glad! If you are so inclined, here are two simple things you can do that would greatly help me and my work:

Subscribe to my mailing list, using the box at the bottom of this page.

If you’ve read one of my books, please review it on one or more of the online bookstores. Reviews really do drive sales, and even a 1-2 line review is fine!

Please visit to read my blog posts, see a list of my upcoming workshops, and explore coaching options.

Thank you for your interest in me and my work, and especially thank you for your activism and other work on behalf of social justice.