When you are thinking of the things you need to do to become more self-sustaining, not relying as hard upon (or solely) the established societal practices that would, if they were to go away, severely disrupt or cause bodily harm (the no eating or drinking bit of living, for example) there are a few things that you can start doing now that will make your life changes a bit more bearable. Whether it is lean times or catastrophic disasters you can start now building the habits that can keep you in the clear.
1. Carry a pocket knife – Seems a bit old school, but that is what we are all about! And beyond going on a plane or into a courthouse, it is just good practice to carry a knife with ya. Not saying that you are going to be like the West Side Story and be called out for a knife fight, but there are many times when a sharp blade can come in handy.
2. Get comfortable with lighting a fire – For some, it is just flicking the Bic lighter or striking a match. And for the most part that is what we will have access to. However, when those matches become more scarce, or the lighting fluid is all used up you are going to have to be thinking “outside the box”. Become familiar with the alternative ways and methods of lighting a fire for cooking and warmth. Outside, inside getting the basics down of tinder and allocation of firewood et. al. The last thing you want to do is find yourself with the only greenwood to burn in a cold, damp place with the lighter on the fritz.
3. Learn to shoot and clean a gun – In our modern-day, guns haven’t generally been needed to ward off undesirables from doing us harm (unless you live in the Big Apple or Gary, Indiana). Guns for the majority of people haven’t been needed. But, when the Wild West returns and the rule of law are what can be enforced at the tip of a gun you better know which end to point and how to maintain that “peacekeeper” for optimal emergency use.
Now, this doesn’t mean ‘Just Guns’. Any method you can use, get proficient at and have it at-the-ready can be placed here. So if you need to shore up those wolverine hunting skills with your Ninja Stars or deadly nunchucks that is quite alright. Pick your choice of self-defense and become good at it (Keep in mind running away isn’t a method of defense).
4. Be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones – I know that we are all kind at heart, and to hurt another may seem way far off. But you do need to ready yourself for those possibilities that may occur when people, unprepared people are pushed to the brink.
5. Be able to perform basic first aid – This is speaking beyond the use of band-aids and Neosporin. Being able to identify, perform or teach general triage methods is a good way to go. Accidents always happen and in a time when medical care is far away, you are going to need to know how to keep yourself and those around you from dying too quickly, if at all.
6. Expect that things will not go as planned. Have a backup plan. Then have a backup plan for your backup plan – Even when everything is normal, nothing always goes according to plan. And with all the variables of life and living getting mixed up in catastrophic times it would be totally unrealistic to think that your plan will work without a hitch here or a hiccup there. Be flexible in your expectations and you will rarely be caught off guard when crap goes sideways.
7. Shop at yard sales and thrift stores – It’s always fun to have that new item smell BUT when it comes to the real world things can last, and you can find great uses for those things that have had one or more owners. Thrift stores and yard sales are a great way to get stuff that has been tested for its durability.
8. Practice using what you have – Our society is too easily moved to a throwaway community. If something doesn’t work quite right or it breaks the inclination is to immediately throw it away and buy a new cheap version of what you just got rid of. Look for quality, make quality, buy quality, and maintain that possession(s) quality. Additionally, try to plan ahead and have extras on-hand.
9. Take care of your gear and it will take care of you – When you have a familiarity with the gear that you have on hand, that you use regularly and keep it in good condition, you have an additional benefit when the dire time comes to use that gear proficiently. Keep it in good order, and it…. will… take care of you (at risk of repeating myself here).
10. Learn a skill you can barter with – When fiat money becomes toilet paper, has no worth attached to it, or if you have no way to earn/own said money, the need for shelter, and eat and be clothed doesn’t lessen. However, your skills or talents can be utilized to barter or trade with others who have extra to spare. It is important to state here, you have to have and be skilled in that action/activity to be able to barter with it. You have to produce quality whether you are getting paid with precious metals, paper money, or if you are bartering for 10 jars of canned pears.
11. Help someone learn a skill you have mastered – After you have picked and practiced a skill or set of skills you tend to get good at doing it. You might even say you can master it. And if it is a skill set that others can benefit from, we need to pass that along, or down to those that come after us. That is what civilizations, peoples, trades, guilds, tribes, and clans have done since the beginning of time. We need to complete that circle so there is no disconnect from future generations. Of which, presently, we are in danger of having this worst-case scenario happen to our rising generation.
12. Do something to further your preparedness efforts every week – While you are working that 9 to 5, building that side gig to be your main means of earning you can be seeking to further your own preparedness. This list and many others we have placed here on this website have plenty of ideas.
13. Don’t allow fear to make your decisions for you – Don’t let the unknown paralyze you from the action. Don’t let doubt creep in so that you are unable to truly learn and grow. Don’t let the state of your self-esteem dictate who you are, what you do, where you are, and how you approach life. Don’t let fear rule you.
14. Exercise regularly – It isn’t at the moment of action that you need to start being ready. It is rare to have the ability to be able to run that marathon without working up to it. And as you get older, the time to keep in condition gets longer and harder to do. Keep that ticker in the right condition if that flight instinct kicks in.
15. Share with others – No matter our circumstance, when we have lived on this earth; Anciently or in modern times we will be judged by our Maker on the type of human being we were. Plan on a bit extra so that you have it to share when the time arises (and it surely will) so you can also be an angel in disguise to those who are in need in any way.
16. Conserve – Now this might seem to be in contradiction to what I just stated above. But this is more for us and what we choose to use on a daily basis. The resources we have at our disposal and what we have stewardship over. Moderation in all things is always a good policy.
17. Plan for the everyday emergencies as well as “end of the world” emergencies – I can’t tell you the peace of mind you feel when you have actually had what you need in lean times. Most of us know that feeling of coming up short on something or another, and when you are able to put away some extra in times of plenty, and those in need become you and yours. The stress of making ends meet melts away in an instant.
18. Grow and preserve your own food – For most of us, this is a no-brainer. But for some who don’t know how edible items get to the store shelves for us to buy and eat this may be an epiphany. Get the knowledge, the skillset, the tools, and the experience you need to put sustenance in your mouth that will help you to keep breathing. Try Aquaponics… just sayin’.
19. Eat a balanced diet – For a couple of generations now, having a well-balanced diet for most was having only a couple of ho-ho’s with that diet coke you have for lunch. Unsurprisingly, it is a bit more involved than that. Having cell nurturing food that gives these incredible machines known as our bodies the energy they need is in a well-balanced eating habit.
20. Cook over a fire – When times get tough, you may not have a microwave handy. In the interest of skills building, practice a few meals that you can cook over a fire. With AND without hardware (spits, grills, pans etc.) Not only building your skills in this area but also your confidence to do so.
21. Learn to identify, harvest, and eat wild edibles in your area – Before civilizations became bulk-producing farmers, we were hunter-gatherers. The knowledge of what to look for and what to avoid has dwindled to sadly a few that still practice it. We need to be able to see the opportunities in that what we used to call a weed.
22. Learn to harvest and butcher an animal for food – The earth and everything on it was given to mankind to till and take care of it. Another fact is that our bodies crave and need proteins to function properly, and there is no better way than via an animal that was raised or killed for that purpose. Instead of slicing a chunk or two out of the hide, we need to learn how to get the most out of the sacrifice of that animal’s life for our sake.
23. Plan for those in your life who cannot take care of themselves–Children, elderly, those with disabilities, pets – You’ll be surprised how quickly you move from one category to the next in this line of thought. We need to accommodate those that are in need, not only to preserve our humanity but also to help those in need along in their path of tribulation.
24. Drink plenty of water – Here’s another opportunity for a diet coke joke, but if you can have access to and USE on a daily basis, water to stay hydrated, then, by all means, use it.
25. Know how to make water safe to drink – Water doesn’t grow on trees… but if you have the know-how, you can harvest it daily from the leaves of a tree or bush, or shrub. There are plenty of sources of water that can be uncontaminated. You just need to know how… another thing you can start learning? Start on Filtration Systems.
26. Get out and stay out of debt. Build an emergency fund – Debt is another form of modern slavery, and for some of us, it is a daily companion. Work so that you can pay off the debt, and remain out of debt. There is no better a liberator than to have a loan that is paid off.
27. Know potential terror targets near you – Beyond the natural disasters all are familiar with, there are some additional disasters that can be brought on by the actions of nefarious people. Be as prepared as you can if those types of people show up near where you call home. Don’t let the lessons of world wars go to waste.
28. Keep survival gear in your vehicle – Odds are that if or when a calamity will happen you may just be in your car. It would be wise to have a little something you can use in that case. Put together a bug-out bag for your vehicle to get by the emergency you may be experiencing.
29. Shoes matter. Own some quality hiking shoes – There is nothing worse than bad shoes. Wait there is, shoes that don’t fit AND you have to walk miles in. It is even wiser for you to get those hiking boots and have them well broken in.
30. Create opportunities for your children to enjoy the outdoors – Because there is a real possibility that all the electronic forms of games, entertainment, and information gathering will not be available, you need to get your children out to the great outdoors to find their passion as you have.
31. Make a plan for getting home in an emergency – As likely that you may be in your car, it is as likely that when disasters hit you will be away from your home base. Depending on what your region would experience as a natural catastrophe (Earthquake, Hurricane, Tornado, etc.) you should make a plan on how would you get back to what you know and love.
32. Have more flashlights and batteries than you think you need – Poking around in the dark is never too fun, and when you are out in the wild blue yonder it sucks to be walking around with just the moonlight to guide ya. Flashlights and batteries are always needed.
33. Have life insurance and a will – Be most considerate to those you leave behind and have something that can take care of your loved ones after you are gone. Having a policy that can payout in the event of your death and has written instructions on how your assets would be dispersed after that fact is a smart move to make.
34. Create a library of good reference books – Gather together a series of books (eBooks are ok, hardbound are better) that can help you in the case where there are no other resources that will be available. Ranging from the most simple of food preservation to the more complex of sanitation systems, barrel making, soil cultivation, and the like. Build your Survival Library toot sweet!
35. Be able to perform basic car maintenance. Change your own oil and flat tires – Gaining the skills and the confidence to maintain your vehicles and machinery is most needed when a time comes around that mechanics won’t be on every corner.
36. Know how to make something using hand tools – This could couple into the fact of learning a skill to barter with. Having the ability to make things is huge, being able to do that with hand tools (sans electricity) is even more so. Whether you work with stone, wood, metals, or any other type of materials you can begin to develop your artisan skills right now.
37. Be aware of your surroundings – You know those types of people who haven’t a clue of where they are or what’s happening around them. Don’t be that person! Know what is happening in the world, in your state, in your city, and in your neighborhood. Be aware of the seasons and the weather cycles where you live. Pay attention to what people are doing around you (especially if you live in a city) keep a keen eye out for those things that are out of the ordinary and could be a threat to life and limb.
38. Be grateful for what you have – Unfortunately it is part of the human condition that we yearn to have more than we have now. Even when we start out on this Self Reliant path that we have chosen. One of the best ways to have peace of heart is to develop gratitude for your present circumstances, no matter what they may be. Of course, keep working to get better prepared, with the right gear, skills, tools, and resources, but as you are working diligently towards where you want to be, where you are now will also be as sweet.
39. Hug your loved ones. Every day – Being stoic is so 1800’s… the times where you have a stiff upper lip and don’t communicate what is in your heart to anyone, even your family members are so over. Let those who mean the most to you know what you have in your heart for them. Expressing your love is a strength and a pillar that your loved ones can use for their own support.
40. Have realistic hope for the future – If you think about it, throughout all history, things could have (and probably did) looked drastic and dire. All the way up to the industrial revolution there was the case of dying from anything diseased or from starvation. In the 20th Century, there wasn’t ever a decade in which a war was raging, being threatened, or cleaning up from one. That being said, our ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) came through it all to raise their offspring in relative safety and happiness. Work on your outlook that your work or teachings will make the difference, and be the factor for the happiness of those that follow after.
41. Don’t waste energy on things you have no control over – Invest your energy in the things you can control–yourself, your emotions, how you spend your time, the way you think, feel, and act. I always tell my loved ones, stop trying to beat yourself up, there are far too many willing to do that for you. Be kind, and most importantly, be kind to yourself.
42. Forgive freely. Allow yourself and others the opportunity to change – Nothing worse than to be known forever for a mistake we made when we were young and not too forward-thinking. And how sweet is the feeling to be allowed a redemption from our past to what we know we can be better at now. Whether it is our own selves or those around us. We should forgive and not hold a grudge against who we or they were. Who we or they are now is the most important and you and those in your life can earn the opportunity to turn things around to benefit and not harm those coming in contact with the new and improved.
43. Value relationships – No man is an island unto himself. Unless in incredibly extreme circumstances, we all will have people around us. It is key to gather those, teach those around us the worthwhile of life through our words and actions. Be the example of those who you wish to be around on the value you place on those relationships, connections, and interactions you have with those with which you come in contact.
44. Keep your promises – In the past the saying, ” His word is his bond.” was as good as any written contract could ever be. And in some aspects of our modern society, that notion has been ripped asunder. Don’t let it be when it comes to you and what you do in this life. Keeping your word and promises is a virtue that all should strive for and for all to realize the weight that our words and actions can have on our loved ones and communities.
45. Think positive – No one enjoys being around a pessimist. Uplift rather than drag down. Encourage rather than denigrate. See the brightness of any situation rather than look for the shadows that may lurk. Keep yourself on the upswing instead of the downturn and you will see that whatever comes your way, you will be better equipped to deal with it. Now, that is not to say that we have times of sadness, self-doubt, or discouragement. But strive to make those times less and less.
46. Improvise – The only thing set in stone that cannot be changed is that one day our spirits that animate our bodies will separate from said bodies resulting in death. Nothing else is. That means that we, when we have the confidence in self, of our abilities, how we approach each day, and situation that we can handle what comes. We can improvise with the best of them! Modern and future inventions have thus shown all that we can move in directions that could have only been dreamt of in the past. That holds true with our individual lives as well.
47. Keep your blades sharp – This can be meant two ways. There is nothing worse than cutting with a dull blade and unless you can stab whatever you need to cut, you are going to be expending a lot of energy. Keep those blades, (knives, axes, saws) sharp. The second way is your mind. Keep learning, growing in that knowledge that will build you up and give you reliable skills in ANY situation you find yourself in. Keep up to date, practice till it’s permanent, and add to it more.
48. Work smart persistently – This is not saying always look for the shortcut, rather, look for the best efficient way to accomplish what you want to.
49. Believe in a power greater than yourself – When you gather knowledge and wisdom unto yourself, you will start to see the divine patterns of what the subject is made of. It matters not the subject, of art or of any of the sciences; chemistry, botany, biology, cosmology, physics, et.al. Each shows that there is a Grand Design in it all. An intelligence that sets them in motion, or is manifested in their existence. This Design cannot be left to chance, the probabilities of such are incalculable to have EVERYTHING be right for life to exist and for life itself to be set in motion. There must be a Grand Designer behind it all!
It is for us to search out this Grand Designer, and come to know His Nature, His Intelligence, and His Desire for us all. You can call Him Providence, Creator, or as you get familiar with His Essence, you can call Him, Father. Once we develop that very real connection with our Father in Heaven, then we can gain the eternal perspective that we all can see, if we have eyes to see it.
50. Pray daily – Communication is always key to a good relationship, and prayer, and keeping yourself close to the Spirit (Father’s Frequency for Communicating) is always the best method of keeping it all together. Let us not lose focus on what is important to He Who Created Us, which can make all the rest of these items we detailed here possible.
51. See the good in others – A wise steward will seek out the best of everything that they have influence over. They will lovingly strive to bring that out in themselves, and from those around them. They will take action to have that in the objects they gather around them and have control over. This is not to say that you should overlook the bad or broken, rather, you should be able to encourage all to do their best come what may.
52. Preparedness isn’t a destination. Celebrate the little steps in the journey – This life is for us to have joy and happiness and when we look to strengthen our knowledge, know-how, habits, actions, thoughts, and wisdom in the name of Self Reliance we can find that joy and experience that happiness.