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10 Questions Animal Advocates Should Ask Themselves

By Jasmin Singer — January 03, 2012

As I’ve already established and made known, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I do, however, believe in New Year’s revolutions, revelations, evolutions, and everything in between. That’s a roundabout way of saying that, although I think that New Year’s resolutions sometimes box people in — leaving us with unrealistic goals that wind up by the wayside once it becomes clear that they will not manifest perfectly because, oh look at that, life took over — I do nonetheless believe in ongoing goal-setting. This is not, I feel, New Year’s specific. But I do tend to set goals in relation to time markers — such as birthdays, anniversaries, and yes, brand new years.

Whether or not you’re into New Year’s resolutions per se, early January — the time when the holiday mayhem is over (and yes, that was me shouting it from the rooftop this morning) — is the perfect time to size up our pro-animal projects, and perhaps get out the drafting paper for some new ones. Or revamp the ones we’ve got. It’s time to take stock and act accordingly.

I am also a big fan of reassessing. I think an ongoing discussion we should all be having with ourselves is: “Self, what are my life goals? In what ways am I working toward them? Through my job? My volunteer work? Both? Is there anything I need to adjust in order to better work toward my life goal?”

With all of this in mind, the post-holiday season is ideal for reevaluating our animal activism, and figuring out where we can and should step it up. Tied into that is, of course, the sustainability factor — and I’m not talking about hemp socks or hybrid cars. I’m talking about our own sustainability. The animals need us to be in this for the long run. Are we positioned to stick around? While the fact that in the U.S. alone, 286 chickens are killed every second, may make this a life-threatening emergency that must be addressed RIGHT NOW, are we nevertheless fighting the good fight in a way that takes care of our own needs, too?

Below are 10 questions that might help you take stock of where your advocacy is as we start 2012. As always, check in daily with Our Hen House (and weekly with our podcast) for ideas and opportunities to change the world for animals.

10 Questions Animal Advocates Should Ask Themselves 

  1. Am I effectively doing what I can in my life to change the world for animals?
  2. Am I appropriately putting my talents and skills into use with regards to my animal activism?
  3. Am I feeling fulfilled in the process? Is there anything I can do to feel more fulfilled?
  4. Even though working in animal rights can be hideously depressing and infuriating, am I noticing the tiny victories along the way? Am I seeing the good stuff?
  5. Is my activism sustainable or am I on the fast-track to burnout? If it’s not sustainable, why not? What do I need to do to change it up? Perhaps that means temporarily shifting my focus, whether to a different animal issue, or a different tactic?
  6. Do I have a safe space around me — through my romantic relationship or my social circles, or even online — in which to express my fears and desires as they pertain to my animal activism?
  7. Is there a dream I have for promoting animal rights that I am ready to work toward?
  8. Am I taking care of myself? Do I have enough energy? Am I getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and getting enough exercise?
  9. Am I learning something new every day that will further enrich my own knowledge and insights regarding animal issues?
  10. Am I remembering that, just as I have mentors, I am probably a mentor to someone else — even if I don’t know to whom? Therefore, am I setting a good example?

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(12) Readers Comments

  1. January 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I appreciate these questions and hope to get further insight into my own activism by them. I worry a lot about burnout for people & loved that you brought that up. My feeling is- once you've entered this movement, this philosophy & this lifestyle, there is no going back! Thank you for your blog and your care for not only the animals but those of us who fight for them daily.

    • January 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      That was a really wonderful message, Patty. We long admire your activism, and can relate to your feeling that once you're in it, there's no turning back. These questions aren't something that necessarily have one answer, forever. I find that they are good questions to ask myself, in one way or another, from time to time -- and to always have them in the back of my mind. Thanks again for your kind words and for all you do to change the world for animals. xo

  2. January 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    As a new animal right's activist I find this list incredibly helpful (and inspiring)!Number 2 is so important -- and often the obstacle to volunteering. For instance, my day job is fundraising. The natural instinct is to NOT want to do that after-hours. But, that's a skill I can bring to the movement (and why I now serve on the board of directors of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary). I had to move past some of the "what about me and my needs?" and think "how can I help the animals." The answer was obvious! So lawyers, graphic designers, chefs, IT professionals, etc ... even if you're tired of doing what you're skilled at by the end of the day -- doing it for the animals definitely makes it fresh and exciting. I promise!Also, I appreciate the mentor / mentee advice, as well. As new as I feel to the movement, I know there are even newer activists that I can potentially mentor through my blog or my volunteer work with WFAS.

    • January 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      jl -- first of all, that's really amazing that you are on the board of WFAS. we love them, and we love you, so it's a double win. i'm glad to hear that these thoughts were helpful to you. and i love hearing about how you are using your skills in fundraising to benefit animals. that's truly inspiring, and a perfect fit. xo

  3. January 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    One form of activism which I have found saves on burnout, but sometimes doesn't make me feel as "fulfilled" is donating to organizations which do the real activism. I need to keep reminding myself that even though my day job isn't animal rights related, I can use it to help fund those who do have that kind of job, and that's important too.

    • January 4, 2012 at 9:37 am

      it is indeed very important to donate funds to AR groups! that's a really important point -- that's for making it. i would only tend to disagree with your statement that these are the groups doing the "real work." though i agree that the work of many AR groups is totally integral to the movement, i have found that, in addition to them, it's also the people who are bringing veganism to their businesses, bringing animal rights discussions to their classes, raising awareness in their everyday life, who are changing the world for animals. we need both the groups and the individuals. thanks for being part of that!

  4. January 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    This is brilliant, in fact I can answer these very successfully; especially after finally launching my own animal rights site! www.empathyforanimals.orgAll it takes it dedication, compassion, and wisdom.

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