Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest – Jeff B
I consider myself to be relatively normal, middle of the road type person. I was sailing along in my life, not completely oblivious, but leaning more towards mild apathy, when it came to TEOTWAWKI scenarios. I occasionally watched TV shows like Doomsday Preppers and while I admired their preparedness, I had the mindset of most Americans, “I have more important priorities”.
After the emotional and financial turmoil of a divorce, I was left to essentially re-invent my life. Initially, I was stuck in the same thought patterns, regarding my “McMansion” and other life essentials. I have always been a saver, my ex-wife a spender. That was the wedge that eventually split us up.
As an engineer, I did what I always do, make lists. I began to calculate, make spreadsheets, formulate plans, etc. Being a pragmatic person by nature, the prepper/survivalist mentality is a close fit. Not an exact one, but close. So I began to investigate that lifestyle.
And suddenly, a light bulb went on. I began to realize that this lifestyle wasn’t filled so much with the “tin foil hat” wearing, conspiracy theory types, but in fact, more often, people like myself.
The Boy Scout motto is, “Be Prepared”. Truly words to live by. If you’re not prepared, you’re either dead or homeless, when the Tsunami hits. I don’t want to be either.
But where to start? There are so many websites and advice columns to gather information from, it’s difficult to decide. Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision. You want to do your due diligence, source out every option, give it a considerable review, but not fall into “Paralysis by analysis”.
To put it simply, you have to start somewhere. If you consider yourself an educated person, you don’t want to waste time or resources making hasty decisions. I don’t profess that this template will fit everyone, but here are the steps I took.
- Realize and accept that (almost) everything you know is useless. Change is inevitable, nothing stays the same, all things eventually change. If you believe that education is a lifelong pursuit, you’re well on your way. I can flop on the couch like everyone else, and pretend everything is hunky dory. That gains you nothing. Preparing for changes and positioning yourself to accept those changes does. Let people believe what they will, you be the one preparing for the societal changes that are sure to come.
- Commit to a plan. I can be stuck in a rut occasionally. Like many people, I have been guilty of procrastinating. Sure the hedges need trimming, but dammit, I’m binge watching TWD on Netflix. Committing to a plan means making lists, doing research, budgeting and yes, sacrificing some of your free time. Not all of your free time, but if you want to make progress, get off the couch.
- Be realistic in you time commitments and planning. For myself, I have time and social commitments, so I can’t really jump into any “full-time” hobby, without neglecting the yard work, house, daughters, etc., etc. My answer to that dilemma is to devote about 30 minutes each evening to research. That could be water purification, gardening, or whatever I need to educate myself on. During the weekends, I compile whatever I have learned into my Master spreadsheet.
- Don’t narrow your focus. It’s great to be focused, but not to the point of losing sight of your objective. I tend to go overboard, on occasion. When I started my prepping journey, there was a lot of news blurbs about guns and ammo. I went a little OCD, stockpiling ammo, in every conceivable caliber. Looking back, that time and energy could have been a little more widespread. By simply reacting, I stockpiled enough ammo to last my lifetime.
- Slow and steady wins the race. I came back to my senses, after the ammo craze and developed a more sensible approach. I split my focus into different categories, such as food, tools, storage, precious metals, etc. Every payday I commit (approx.) $100 into a purchase for one of these categories. It’s not huge, but persistence pays off in the long run.
- Keep a positive outlook. Like many things in life, a positive outlook is often good medicine. The world, particularly the internet, is filled with bad news, forecasting doom and gloom in the financial markets, health care, government, police, etc. etc. Keep plugging away! You have made the decision to prepare for an upcoming crisis, so you should rejoice. The mindless souls who wander this earth, (I used to be one of them) are just going through the motions of life and are somewhat clueless.
- Operational Security. Keep Quiet. Say nothing, reveal nothing. Let me repeat that, NOTHING. Do you tell your neighbors or your Mother in Law, when you stock up on toilet paper, motor oil or any other staple? Of course not, it’s mundane information. Why would you tell anyone you are stockpiling anything? They are more likely going to think you’re Kooky, rather than relate, so why bother? I have told only my oldest kid enough for them to carry on, should I pass away. See: Top ten ways to blow your operational security.
- Discard or sell all useless items. My parents were collectors. They weren’t “hoarders”, but there were magazines, books, artwork, coins, furniture, on and on and on. Some of that rubbed off on me, but thankfully (and partly due to moving) I have begun to de-clutter. I get the sentimentality aspect of keeping possessions; no one wants to throw out their daughter’s soccer trophy. So don’t, but I have a storage unit filled with items, I don’t use. I am disposing of these things through EBay or craigslist and when I am through, not only will I have generated a few extra bucks; I will not have the monthly storage unit payment.
These steps are general and everybody is different. I needed a way to work towards my goals, while still maintaining my current obligations. At first, I felt a little overwhelmed about beginning to prep. There was so much I needed and I wasn’t sure where to begin. I made a couple of mistakes in my planning, but who doesn’t? The important thing is; I started. And I have continued. It’s amazing that once you commit to a journey, you feel more secure. Even though you’re not at your desired goal, you feel better knowing you’re on the way.
Prizes For This Round (Ends July 29, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…
- Gift certificate for $150 off of Handgun Ammo courtesy of Lucky Gunner.
- WonderMill Electric Grain Mill courtesy of WonderMill.
- 72 Hour 1 Person Kit courtesy of Augason Farms
- WaterBoy Well Bucket and Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products
- 72 Hour 1 Person Kit courtesy of Augason Farms
- MRE-Star Case of 12 Complete MRE Meals.
- LifeStraw Portable Water Filter.
- One can of Yoders Fully Cooked Canned Bacon
- One Jumbo Roll Toilet Paper / Toilet Tissue – 2000′ all courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.
- Five Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate 16 oz – Beef Kosher courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Ebook copy of The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving TEOTWAWKI.
- Ebook Copy of The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook.
Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.
The more original and helpful your article is, the deeply and less basic it is, the better the chance, that I will publish it, and you will win. Only non-fiction how-to-do-it type articles, please.