I got a text message from a dear Sister this morning and it set me off on a tear. She has been reading the DEEP WINTER series, which I love, and it has her thinking about her state of resiliency, or lack thereof. So, she asked me to help her out and gave me a couple of things off the top of her head that she wanted, like a house in the country off the grid.
She is both right and wrong. Very right in that she is identifying her heart’s desire for her larger life. She wants a home. And that would meet her shelter, energy and other needs. It is wrong, because it is putting the cart before the horse. I find this to be one of two very typical responses to individuals who realize how fragile their existence is.
One response is to run out and buy stuff that makes us feel more secure. We see a lot of this right after a major disaster or in preparation for some hyped event like Y2K. Look for a lot of good deals on stuff on Craig’s List after Dec 2012! This doesn’t work because those preps don’t become part of a person’s life; they are just a temporary security blanket that we pull up because we feel threatened. But, sooner or later, we have buyer’s remorse, realizing these things don’t have a real place in our day to day lives and they get sold or stuffed into the back of the garage and forgotten.
The other response is to put the head back in the sand as quickly as possible. Humanities ability for self-deception, especially when compounded by normalcy bias, is incredible. This type person is a sheeple and happy to be so.
So, what is the right response to realizing how fragile our systems of support are? I got to thinking how to best help my Sister respond to her growing realizations and came up with the resources below. This is a much more holistic approach than simply running out and buying a pallet of freeze dried food, a couple of guns and a thousand rounds of ammo. As one of my most significant recent sources of inspiration has as his tag line, “Everything we do today should make our lives better, if things go bad or even if they don’t”. So, with that philosophy in mind, here is how I would advise a complete newbie to approach the huge idea of prepping for their lives.
Step 1: Conduct research
This is very necessary and should not be skipped. It is a lifelong endeavor, part of the lifelong process of learning, but we are going to focus this a bit. This will enable us to avoid buyer’s remorse (No need to buy things that don’t apply to the situation you face) and add things to our lives in some order of priority and usefulness.
So, stop what you are doing and listen to the following podcasts and visit these specific internet board pages.
Modern Survival Philosophy
Situational Awareness vs. Normalcy Bias
Setting and Prioritizing survival planning goals
Passion, Persistence and Planning always beat Paranoia
There is no down-side to prepping
Best of threads at The Survival Podcast forum
FAQ’s on survival.com
Step 2: Threat assessment
This is a fairly simple process. Don’t over think it, but spend some time thinking about your local area and your life and identify the threats you are likely to face. If you listened to the threat assessment podcast you know what to do now. HERE is a sample form I use.
Step 3: Identify your assets and liabilities
Before beginning any journey it is necessary to know where you are now. Now that you know which threats you are most likely to face, and taking into account the commonality of disaster preparation, identify where you are weak and where you already have resiliency.
Step 4: make a plan
First, using the threat assessment, prioritize the areas of your life that you want to improve first. Make another list of those areas that would be easiest to improve. For example, clean water may be 3rd or 4th on your list of priorities, but you can drastically improve it simply by buying a Berkey water filter. You may opt to do this before something of higher priority but longer term or more expensive like solar backup systems. I liken this to Dave Ramsey’s advice to pay off the smallest debt first, the Debt Snowball. Once you have the easy to do and moderately important things taken care of, resources are freed up for higher priority or more difficult projects. Lay your time and money investments out in a logical sequence, then SET DATES to accomplish things!
Step 5: monitor and adjust
Using the OODA loop process (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) make adjustment to your plan periodically. Life changes, you discover some things are not your bag of tea, whatever. Your plan should adjust accordingly. Remember, if you don’t like living in the country, don’t make a remote retreat part of your plan. Build community and resiliency in your preferred urban setting. We all are limited by our resources, that is no excuse to sit back and do nothing.
This is where I would start. Your survival/preparedness/resiliency plan must be your own, or you won’t follow it. It’s like going on a diet, if you don’t make it part of an overall lifestyle change your just on the yo-yo diet bandwagon. If anyone has specific questions after this, please feel free to put them in the comments, if I don’t have the answer I can direct you to several sources that do. Check out the forums and podcasts on the right margin as well. There is far more good info on those sites than anyone can assimilate.