What I Learned After Advocating for My Industry for 6 Months

3 Important Lessons to Learn Before You Start

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I’m a pharmacist who’s been advocating for pharmacy these past 6 months. After a lot of successes and failures, I thought it’d be useful to boil it down to 3 lessons for my future advocates.

1. Advocacy is a Job

I thought it was something I could do while still clocking in 50-something hours a week — I was wrong. Advocacy is a job. Whether it’s a part-time or full-time job is dependent on how effective you want to be. Either way, it’s a job that takes your time and effort.

Before you begin, be realistic with your expectations and abilities. What’s the opportunity cost? Are you comfortable taking a pay cut? Will your efforts be appreciated? Those are some questions that need to be answered because your quality of life is about to change drastically and you need to be prepared for that.

2. Don’t Bother if It’s Half-Assed

You can’t inspire change with one blog post, podcast, video, or event. Unless you go viral, you’ll need to put in serious effort for a long time to make a measurable impact. If you’re only planning to do this 30 minutes a week for 4 weeks, then don’t bother. Save those 2 hours of your life for your friends and family instead. The good news is it’ll all pay off after you’ve reached a tipping point.

3. Don’t Depend on Friends

I know how negative this sounds — but hear me out. You’re advocating because you have a strong belief and you want to increase public awareness or inspire action. You start spreading the word to your friends and many of them are encouraging and enthusiastic. Don’t mistaken this enthusiasm as passion for what you’re doing. They’re encouraging you to do something — not themselves. Instead, think of them as the people cheering you on as you run your marathon — possibly alone. There is a silver-lining though. If you grind long enough, people will start noticing and some might even want to join.

Here’s my advice. Think of advocacy as a marathon. Just like a marathon, you’ll need to train and warm up. Your training is your planning, preparation, and research. Your warm-up is you telling your friends and family. When you start running, have them as your source of encouragement when you want to give up. Run proudly so strangers notice and become motivated to join. Lastly, never stop running.

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