When you advocate, you are promoting change and this may take time. Advocacy is hard work and you will have to overcome obstacles. People will tell you no, and at some point may feel like your voice is not being heard. Don’t get discouraged! Focus on what you have accomplished and the impact you have made, and let that be the driving force behind your work. Remind yourself of who or what you are advocating for, and remember the passion which drove you to take on the challenge; allow this to carry you through any difficulties. This will be the thing that carries you through the tough times and help you overcome any obstacles. Once you know your end goal, you
can take (follow) many different paths to reach it. Think of advocacy like a GPS. You enter in your destination, and it gives you options on how to get there. If you veer off track, it recalculates for you. Sometimes you will have to make those same recalculations in advocacy. Consider all options, and recalculate if necessary. Be sure to talk with other advocates and share your successes and frustrations. Advocacy can be frustrating, but can also be incredibly rewarding. Have a well thought out plan; understand the legislative process; know where you can affect it and be persistent. You are making a difference!
Effective communication with elected officials is critical to advocacy success. Just like the legislative process, advocacy is a process, and it may take time to see change. Carry something with you at all times that you can look at, feel, and touch to remind you why you spend your time advocating. Maybe it’s a picture of a loved one, a token that another patient not strong enough to fight gave you, or maybe it’s your own heart that has a story to share. Tell that story with every ounce of compassion you have. These are the things that will give you strength and carry you further,
even when you think you’ve reached the end of a road. Your elected officials will appreciate the firsthand knowledge of how the policies they helped to create affect patients’ lives. They thrive on for information and you can be a resource for them. You can help to bridge the gap between elected officials and their constituents. Push for change, stand up for those who can’t, and demand attention.
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