Sabrina Model-Carlberg / January 6, 2016

Activist University Post TWO

Great Dane knocking over planter on deck

… or writing a petition is simply figuring out what it is you’re asking for.

Okay, it probably sounds simple, right? But it can be tough to untangle our really passionate feelings and decipher what a specific, attainable goal for our cause is. Lots of times we find ourselves motivated by outrage or dismay, and we know we want to change something – but what? And how?

This is where having a S.M.A.R.T. goal comes into play. What do I mean by that?

Your goal needs to be five things (and don’t worry, there’s an example at the end):


In other words, make it clear, concrete, and concise. The more crystal clear your goal is, the more likely it is you’ll win. The vaguer you are, the harder it is for a decision-maker to give you what you want.

Think about it like this: If you were a lawmaker and someone brought you a petition urging you to “protect wildlife,” what do you do with that? Would you have any idea where to start? Chances are, even if the petition had 100,000 signatures, you’d probably have to put it to the side.


Ask yourself this: Can you tell whether or not this thing has taken place? In other words, can you measure the effects of your goal or your petition?

Think about it like a before and after scenario. Before, the world looked like X (full of poaching, little respect for trans* rights, not enough bike paths). After, what does the world look like? What specifically does the world look like? Can you tell if your petition had an impact?

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