The focus of prepping is to be a problem-solver. Whether it be to survive economic collapse or live more comfortably during a short-term power outage, prepping is about having solutions. These solutions are geared toward thriving during periods of adversity and being able to adapt to change and capitalize on opportunities that are a result of change. This is best accomplished by those who are effective in their preparedness habits. Author Stephen Covey is known for his series of books that started with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and outlined what effective people have in common that make them that way. The book revolutionized the way that many people looked at their lives and managed their decisions. Preparedness-minded individuals should approach prepping in a highly effective way to avoid pitfalls, bad decisions or apathy and maintain the ability to solve problems for themselves and their loved ones. These are nine habits that can make you a highly effective prepper.
1. Balance Expectation With Reality: It is easy to get excited and start looking at what would be needed to prepare for the Mayan Apocalypse or what you might do if there was a global nuclear war. The reality of life must be balanced with our expectations. It is far more likely that disaster will come in the form of a job loss, loss of a loved one or even a car wreck than many of the end-of-the-world scenarios. Take this realistic approach when making preparations and plans. This will keep you on the right track and will result in having what you need when the time comes.
2. Be Organized: Chaos during times of disaster is inevitable on some scale. Having a system of organization can increase chances of survival. This can be especially true in times where a situation dictates that there may be only a few minutes to grab items and leave.
In addition to having well-organized plans in place, it is important to maintain organization of preparedness items. It will makes things easier to find and can save money by avoiding waste. Rotate stored foods and water. Keep items where they will be needed. Don’t store all of you eggs in one basket. Insure against risk and diversely store your preps.
3. Maintain Fitness: There are three integral areas of fitness that must be maintained by the prepper: physical, spiritual and mental.
Physical fitness is paramount to being able to complete tasks and assist others during difficult times. Regularly participate in activities that will maintain and/or improve your physical fitness. Not only is this important for fitness, individual health will most likely be maintained by an exercise program.
Spiritual fitness is important to helping get through a difficult time or survival situation. The belief in a higher power has pulled many through trying and impossible times. This can be said especially about those who make it through combat experiences. Maintain spiritual fitness by practicing your faith and finding others to share in your practice. We gain strength from one another.
Mental fitness can mean the difference between life and death. Don’t keep things bottled up. Find someone to talk to. Share things that are bothersome to you and become resilient by growing from difficult experiences. It will make things less difficult to work through in the future.
4. Continually Assess Risk: Being an effective prepper involves preparing for the risks that are relevant to you, your loved ones and the area(s) that you live and spend your time in. It might go without saying, but a person who lives in Montana is not likely in a position where he needs to prepare for a hurricane. Conduct an assessment to determine what weather-related risks are native to the area of residence. Look at risks to income such as working seasonally or in a profession where income is not predictable. Determine if there are security concerns that could impact your life. Never stop thinking about what dangers you may face.
5. Steady Wins The Race: If I were to win the lottery, I could safely say that I may be able to be fairly well-prepared in a short amount of time. Even in that scenario, however, it is feasible that I could miss out on some important details. Effective preppers are the ones who dedicate a portion of their time, income or both to ensure that all their bases are covered and that each day, week, month and year that goes by leaves them in a better spot than before.
Make a plan to steadily become more prepared. This could mean focusing on a different area of preparedness every month, or even preparing a list of needed items prioritized by importance or urgency. The top item on the list can be obtained as the means or opportunity becomes available. Pay off debt to get out of the trap of owing others money. If finances are tight, try to barter services or trade for needed preparedness items.
6. Keep Your Head Out Of The Sand: This point somewhat ties into habit No. 4. Assessing risk will make you aware of your surroundings. Don’t be the person who knows bad things might happen and perhaps even has a good idea of what those things are, but chooses to not be aware of when those things are actually happening. Stay up with the news and current events to maintain an awareness of local, regional and national news. This can provide early warning to a bad or avoidable situation.
Not all situations are predictable, though. Keep a weather-alert radio in your home and consider installing a weather-alert app on your smart phone so that you will not be blindsided by dangerous weather. Avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations such as bad neighborhoods or being alone in a dark, empty parking lot using an ATM. If you do find yourself in an unfavorable situation, maintain your awareness of the situation and keep tabs on what other people are doing around you.
7. Always Continue To Learn And Improve: No person is ever done learning, and preppers are no exception. Those who strive to be self-reliant or survive difficult situations are always trying to learn skills to support our lifestyle. Particular focus should be given to skills that increase chances of survival, provide clean water to drink and food to eat, and further remove reliance on systems of support, creation of energy and so on. Look for classes online, at a community college or co-op, or network with others that you share commonalities with and learn from each other. Don’t stop improving your chances of successful survival.
8. Loose Lips Sink Ships: OPSEC, or operational security, is a buzzword in the survival community, but for a good reason. While it is admirable to spread the message of preparedness, it can be counterproductive to share information about specific preparations that are being made, where items are stored or what plans are in place to react to a certain threat. Veteran preppers will avoid showing their hand to avoid a dangerous situation down the road.
9. Take Action: The ninth and final habit of the highly effective prepper is to take action. This is, in my opinion, the most important habit of all. It is easy to become overwhelmed or be unsure and scare ourselves into inaction. Once we arrive in the land of inaction, it is even easier to stay there. It is a comfortable place where I can tell myself that I am not gaining anything but I am not losing anything either. This is great! I am no better but no worse for the wear. Wrong! The old saying “he who hesitates is lost” applies here. It is better to be a prepper of action and have some of what you need, than to be a prepper of inaction and have none of what you need. In fact, I don’t believe the latter can even classify as a prepper. Take action while the opportunity is still available.
The key to making yourself an effective prepper is to put these habits to use, but how will you do that? Most of these habits will have to be developed over time. There are a few steps that can be taken to serve as a catalyst down this path. Make checklists. Schedule routine and ongoing drills or inspections of equipment. Use a budget to pay off debt, spend with purpose and provide for your future, whether it be through the purchase of preparedness items or establishing a lifestyle, savings or investments. Develop the right habits and you can make yourself a highly effective prepper.