There comes a time when every prepper finally says, “Enough with all of the food and enough with all of the gear!” After years of seeking out the best stuff at the best prices, creating a stockpile, and purchasing equipment, you just might want to stop – at least for awhile – and focus on something else: the vital qualities and abilities that no amount of money can buy.
The biggest stockpile in the county won’t be enough if you don’t learn the important skills that will carry you through when you’re faced with hard times. Likewise, there are certain personality traits that will enhance your ability to survive.
Instead of adding to your stockpile, consider investing some time gaining proficiency in old-fashioned competence and common sense. While these aren’t things you can buy, taking a class or picking up some books about the following can be of far more value than yet another bag of beans.
Today I would like to share my own list of important traits and skills and traits for preppers that money just can’t buy.
6 Vital Skills for Preppers
1. First Aid Skills
It goes without saying that knowing how to administer first aid can save lives. Basic wound care, suturing skills and even a knowledge of herbal home remedies can make a difference in whether your loved ones will make it through a crisis.
Invest not only in a good first aid manual, but consider taking a course and becoming certified.
2. Gardening Skills
Whether you grow a simple plot of greens or maintain a mini-farm on an acre or two, knowing how to grow your own food will allow you to supplement any food supplies that you have in your pantry. Learn to work and develop whatever land you have so that you can grow vegetables and fruits that will feed your family and possibly provide edible currency for barter in a SHTF situation. Take care not to rely on store-bought solutions for pests or poor soil. Learn organic growing methods so that you can raise your food even if the garden center has closed its doors forever.
3. Basic Fix-It Skills
Knowing how to pound a nail and operate a hand saw are just two of the many fix-it skills that will help you make repairs once you begin the recovery process. Plumbing, welding, electrical, and general carpentry skills will always be in demand and will give you a marketable skill that will make you valuable to the community. (The book Brushfire Plague described this well.)
4. Home Keeping Skills
Having the ability to cook from scratch, preserve your home-grown food, sew or mend your own clothing, and maintain a clean, sanitary living environment will be critical to your health and well-being.
In modern times, we have become reliant on others to tend to our basic needs: the supermarket provides us with food, the mall provides us with clothing, and the local power and water companies provide us with our utilities. Learning to get by on your own without modern conveniences will allow you to face a disaster more comfortably and to focus on the more important matter of staying safe.
5. Defense Skills
Whether you choose a stun gun, pepper spray, a knife, or a firearm, get to know your defensive weapon well so that you can defend what is yours in a safe and sane manner. Don’t just “get it and forget it!” It’s vital that you practice with your weapon of choice on a regular basis to keep your skills and comfort level high.
6. Outdoor Skills
Having the ability to survive in the wilderness could be essential to your survival in certain situations. If you don’t already know how, learn to create a shelter, build a fire, make a snare, clean and cook an animal, forage for food that is safe to eat, and plot your course through the woods without getting lost.
You can practice these skills by camping and hiking with your family,. (Then you have the added bonus of enjoyable quality time while you hone your abilities.) The more you practice them, the easier they will become.
Get a copy of the SAS Survival Manual for your backpack for reference. This tiny book is packed with information for survival in all sorts of settings.
6 Essential Traits of Survivors
Skills alone aren’t enough, though. There are also 6 personality traits that are essential to survival. If these are not part of your current mindset, practice them in your everyday life until they become your natural way of doing things. You may find that they improve your day-to-day life even when there is no disaster in sight.
Perseverance is often described as having the steadfastness to do something despite any difficulty in achieving success.
“Determination” is another good word for this trait. Hard times or not, this is the skill that will give you the will to keep on going no matter what. It will allow you to focus on the future – and hopefully better times – rather than staying stuck in the moment when all may not be perfect.
Perseverance is a choice and a habit that will allow you to set small goals that are attainable, This, in turn, leads to optimism and ultimately a sense of accomplishment.
Being careful in the use of resources makes good sense, even when there’s no disaster in sight. This applies not only to consumables but also to the use of time. Avoiding waste and eliminating costly habits will result in a simpler life that is more likely to be filled with spiritual abundance. A frugal nature is often enhanced by creativity, as those who are careful with spending tend to be excellent problem solvers, finding solutions that don’t require a trip to the store.
If you’ve been of a “spend-y” mindset, here are a couple of books that might change the way you think: The Complete Tightwad Gazette and America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams.
9. Compassion for Others
Caring for others when they cannot fend for themselves is the human thing to do. Following a disaster or collapse, there are going to be people that are vulnerable. They may be children, they may be elderly, or they may simply be lost or separated from their loved ones.
Having the heart and compassion to deal with those that are physically or emotionally hurt is the right thing to do, as long as you can do so without compromising your own safety. Be prepared to deal with the frightened and to assist them in finding their way to safety. Remember, it could just as easily be your loved ones who were separated from you, and you’d want someone else to look after them.
10. Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are sometimes referred to as people skills, social skills or communication skills. But regardless of what you call it, interpersonal skills will dictate your ability to work with others in a positive and productive manner. By getting along with others, you will be able to build good community relationships and will become known as a responsible and honest person who can be trusted.
Having strong interpersonal or social skills will be invaluable when it comes to bartering for goods or services, or for controlling a potentially deadly situation with reason instead of force.
If you want to improve your interpersonal skills start of with Dale Carnegie’s classic: How to Win Friends & Influence People.
11. Problem Solving Skills
The ability to think on your feet is going to be critical following a disaster or collapse. In practical terms, this means that you will need to very quickly evaluate a situation and come up with the best possible coping strategy for surviving under dire circumstances.
There are 3 steps to surviving any type of crisis: You will need the ability to assess the risks you face, rapidly troubleshoot and create a plan, and put that plan into action without hesitation.
Some people really delude themselves with regard to their abilities. Just because you could do something 20 years ago, it doesn’t mean you can do it today.We get older, sometimes less fit, and sometimes less healthy. If you can admit to yourself the places where you might fall short, you can create a workaround before the time comes that this is vital to your survival.
Acknowledge your strengths and your weaknesses as well as your passions and your fears. Be strong in your faith and in your willingness to fail as well as your willingness and desire to succeed.
The Final Word
Focusing on skills can provide a welcome break from the sometimes frantic (and often obsessive) need to acquire food, gear and supplies. Taking the time to think through the personal qualities that will guarantee survival is something that we all need to do from time to time. Doing so will make you realize how much you have that is non-tangible but of great value none-the-less.
Keep in mind, though, that with any list, this is only a start. With a modicum of thought, many more skills can be added to this list. How about you – what skills would you add to this list?
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!