These days, you can barely turn around without someone giving you advice on what you should or must do to succeed at prepping. This is all good news because four or five years ago, most advice you found would likely be highly militaristic, political, or simply over the top unreasonable.
I can recall the days when the #1 survival tip was to establish a remote bug-out-location and prepare to live permanently off grid. Now really, how practical is that for most of us? Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with permanently bugging out; I am just saying that except in the most dire of world circumstances, doing so will not be practical or probable for most of us.
That brings me to today’s topic: how to succeed at prepping. I have been thinking about this for awhile and whereas this list is not infallible, it may help you to foster a road map leading toward a positive prepping experience.
How to Succeed At Prepping
1. First and foremost, evaluate the risks and prepare for that
Let’s face it. We all have risk tolerances that vary with our geographic location, age, health, and economic condition.
Sit down and make a list of the top five things that worry you the most and prepare for those things. I am not going to give you a laundry list to choose from, you know what keeps you up at night!
2. Build a stockpile of food, water, medications, first aid supplies, and cash
The stockpile you build is your “survival” insurance plan. Build up a modest stockpile in each category and add to it over time. You do not need to do it all at once.
3. Decide what skills are needed to meet the risks in #1, and learn them
Once you have your list of probable and/or worrisome risks, back into the skills you need to acquire and hone in order to meet those risks head on. They may include old-fashioned pioneer-type skills, fire-making, or simply people skills. Or something else entirely.
Your list, your skills. Don’t be tricked into adopting a skill set that does not address your needs.
4. Develop various emergency kits for varying purposes.
Putting together a big kahuna survival kit when you first start to prep is often number one on the priority list. Before you jump in with both feet, consider putting together a minimum of three or more smaller, more basic kits instead.
Most likely you will need a Get Home Kit, Every Day Carry Kit, and Three Day Kit. You may also need a vehicle kit, a trauma kit, and a carry on your back and get out of dodge bug out kit.
The nice thing about kits you build yourself is that you can pick and choose the gear according to your needs and budget. That is not to say that there are not some excellent all-in-one kits out there, because there are. Just be aware that one size does not fit all and after starting with a modest all-in-one kit, you may want to customize and update your kit over time.
Recognize that your emergency kit will always be a work in process.
5. Learn extreme coping skills
You may have noticed that I have not said that survival following a disruptive event will be easy. There is no way that I, or anyone else, can guarantee that being an extreme prepper will ensure your that you make it through a horrific disaster.
On the other hand, you can learn coping skills and you can learn to take things in stride and roll with the punches.
Resource: 13 Ways To Roll With the Punches
6. Develop a survival library and store it in a format that is comfortable for you
No matter how good your memory, during times of stress, it will be humanly impossible to remember everything. Acquire and maintain a survival library and do so in a format that makes sense to you. Print books are great, but with today’s inexpensive solar charging devices, you can also maintain a portable library of eBooks.
As with everything I have addressed so far in this article, you want to stay within your own personal comfort zone.
Remember those risks? If an EMP is high up on your list, then perhaps an eBook reader or tablet will not be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you live in a flood plain and are worried about losing everything to the rising waters, print books may not be your best option.
The message should be clear: you decide.
The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster
Preppers Long-Term Survival Guide and other Survival/Prepping Books by Jim Cobb
Doctor Prepper’s Making the Best of Basics Family Preparedness Handbook
7. Organize your preps in a manner than makes sense
I am guilty of stressing over a lack of organization when it comes to my own preps. As much as I try, I do not have list upon list of everything I own. As difficult as it is for the perfectionist in me to not know exactly what I have, spending the hours, days and weeks it would take to get everything perfectly organized is not something I am willing to do.
Choosing the “good enough” method is what I recommend. There are a number of inexpensive planners out there (here is one) that you can use, or you can use an old-fashioned pen and paper or even just the “walk-around and visually inspect what you have” method.
No one can (or should) judge you by the method you use to keep track of your stuff.
8. Take a periodic prepping break
This is easier said than done. I get that. But that being said, burnout comes easily within the prepping world. I have suffered extreme prepping burnout myself and for that I have been both embarrassed and ashamed. Like there is some prepping-god out there judging my efforts – not!
Don’t fall into a trap where you live and breathe prepping 24/7. If you do, you will suck at prepping for sure. Take a breather. It can be a day, a week, or a month. When your prepping sabbatical is over, you will resume refreshed and renewed as well as more focused. Trust me on this one.
9. Run, don’t walk, from websites, videos, periodicals, and books that foster fear or attempt to shame you into spending your hard-earned cash on some over-priced turkey
Nothing makes me angrier than the greed I have seen within the preparedness niche. Pick and choose the items you feel will be useful. Spend wisely on quality where you feel it will do the most good, and be mindful of the budget with the rest.
10. Have faith and confidence in your own ability prevail in a survival situation
Someone once reviewed this website and made a point of stating that I often dealt with the mental aspects of preparedness. And so it is that I unequivocally state that in order to succeed at prepping, you need to have confidence in your ability to think on your feet, make decisions, then carry those decisions through to their logical conclusion.
Call me a cheerleader if you want, but I know that when push comes to shove, setting insecurities aside will ensure your ultimate success at preparedness.
11. Do not be afraid to ask for help if and when the time comes.
As much as you may be confident in your stockpile of food, water, supplies, gear and skills, the time may come when you know in your heart of hearts that you can not do it all. Do not be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in saying, “I need help” when you have gone as far as you can in taking care of your own needs.
The Final Word
With preppers, two things commonly occur. First, you start out like gangbusters then later give up in frustration because of the time, cost and effort involved. Or, in another scenario, you prep for awhile, totally burn out, and decide to stop. In both cases, you end up feeling a sense of guilt and failure.
I am not saying this happens to everyone, but I know it happens a lot.
What I suggest today is that you step back, take a deep breath, and start anew. Perhaps the pace will be slower and the fervor a bit less animated. So be it. Preparedness is a lifestyle and there is no rule book I know of that says you have to be perfect.
The goal of this website is to help you evaluate your options then move them forward with grace and optimism. The very last thing I want is for you to suck (aka do a bad job) of prepping. We are, after all, in this together.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!