One of the best byproducts of a lifestyle of personal readiness is the confidence that it lends you. Once you have been prepping long enough, you feel like you are ready for anything and that there is no disaster, no mishap, no emergency, and no attack that could possibly befall you or your family that would lead to harm.
That why most of us begin prepping in the first place, is to attain that confidence.
However, and I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news here, but that mindset might well lead to the opposite outcome from the one you’re wanting.
We all want to be ready and indeed we can become ready, but as soon as we start feeling like we are truly, totally ready we need to treat that as a warning sign, like that check engine light popping up on our prepping dashboard.
This is because the moment that you get comfortable as a prepper, believing that you are truly ready for anything and that nothing can accost you, you have fallen victim to complacency, and as we all know complacency often paves the way for disaster immediately after.
To help prevent you from getting too comfortable as a prepper, or to snap you out of a comfort zone you’ve settled into we are bringing you 10 easy steps it will help you get your head right and reinvigorate your prepping efforts.
Don’t Fall for a “Master” Mentality
There’s a sort of strange dichotomy at work when it comes to any skill building.
Everybody I know who is a highly motivated individual really wants to get out there and get after it, learning everything they can, getting in meaningful repetitions, and acquiring all of the accumulated knowledge, lore, and context they can about their craft.
In fact, you often hear it phrase as the pursuit of mastery.
It’s funny because for the real Masters out here among us the pursuit of Master is just that. It will always remain a pursuit.
It isn’t a summit you can reach even though that mountain you are climbing trying to attain it seems to just grow higher and higher ahead of you as you climb.
This is because there is always more to do when it comes to any skill set. You can always learn more, refine it, and get better.
In fact, what we must be wary of is a false summit. I know too many preppers who fall into this trap.
Maybe it is ego, maybe it is a narrow view of a given field or skill, or maybe it is just the earnest but misguided belief that they really know everything there is to know.
Anyone who calls themselves a master, and sincerely believes it, is probably no true Master at all.
But the people that all of us respect in a given field and dub masters of the craft, always consider themselves students and always strive, always climb, and always seek an even more nuanced understanding.
Put another way, they know that they don’t know everything. We need to let this inform our own efforts as preppers.
You must always avoid falling into the master mentality, specifically the mentality that you have achieved mastery in any given sector of prepping, be it self-defense, outdoor survival, food production, or anything else.
Once you do that, complacency is going to pull up a chair next to you and get really, really cozy with you.
Like I mentioned above, once complacency settles in, you can start the clock and depend on it you were going to get blindsided eventually or found severely wanting when something so bad happens it is completely outside your realm of experience.
10 Easy Steps for Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
We are all human, and no matter how diligent and how sincere our efforts are, once you attain a certain threshold of skill or performance, it is easy to start hearing that siren song of good enough.
Don’t get lured onto the rocks by that sweet song! Stop up your ears and keep your objectives fixed firmly in your sights by following these 10 tips from breaking out of your comfort zone as a prepper.
1. Establish Deadlines for All the Important Stuff
When you were in the middle of a survival scenario or any other major crisis, you had better believe that all of your important tasking is going to have hard deadlines.
When the weather is cold, getting worse and the sun is getting low in the sky you’ve got to have shelter and a fire going, pronto, no ifs, and, or buts.
Likewise, when major trouble is coming down the turnpike, you need to be elsewhere if you want to stand a chance of getting a good outcome and no excuse will suffice.
I think every prepper understands this, but what they don’t understand is that when you put off and procrastinate on essential tasks that are intrinsic to your lifestyle of readiness you are giving yourself freedom from deadlines that you just will not have in a live event.
You might be too tired, out of energy, or just not have enough time among all the other things you have to do and so it is easy to say, well, this isn’t totally essential to my life so I’ll just do it tomorrow!
Well, news flash, tomorrow never comes and you shouldn’t let yourself off the hook so easy. Get it done. Lose sleep if you have to, miss out on some fun activity if you have to.
But by holding yourself accountable to hard timetables and genuine deadlines even when it is not really, really essential you’ll start cultivating discipline and in essence training yourself for the real thing.
2. Talk to Real Survivors of Catastrophe and Get their Accounts
Lots of preppers who have never truly been tested in a disaster or some other emergency have great ideas about how things will go down, and what they will do, and how it’ll generally work out.
These all have one thing in common, and they are generally completely whimsical.
I mean to say they are not grounded in reality, and the moment that you think reality is not going to assert itself or your fundamental beliefs aren’t congruent with it, you are heading for a really bad time.
One thing that might be a little uncomfortable but highly informative is speaking with real survivors of disasters, catastrophes, and other nexuses of human suffering.
Talk to the survivors and learn what you can from them. See what went right for them, if anything, and see what went terribly, horribly wrong.
Strive to understand their context: were they highly prepared, somewhat prepared, or not prepared at all? Did it in fact make any difference for the outcome?
Try to get inside their head a little bit, and understand what they must have been going through. Try to understand their frustration, confusion, their terror, and pain.
By making this uncomfortable and raw connection you’ll truly begin to understand what you yourself will probably face in the gravest extreme.
3. Have a Trusted Friend or Mentor Critique Your Skills and Vulnerabilities
Everybody likes to think they are the ace and good at something, even if they are only truly good at one thing.
But, without a watermark and valid critique that you can truly compare yourself against, you might be blowing smoke.
If you have never had someone let the air out of your tires before, so to speak, you are probably in for a rude awakening.
It never fails there is some skill or some facet of ourselves that we are either proud of or believe is not a problem at all and are tragically, horribly wrong about.
When it comes to prepping and other readiness-related skills, all of us should strive to seek out a truly trusted close friend or a mentor figure and have them give us a genuine critique.
They should tell us what our biggest shortcomings are, no matter how badly it hurts our feelings or our egos.
And another thing, it shouldn’t hurt your feelings because they care enough to be honest with you and we ask them for it.
Not everyone is up to the task. Sometimes our spouses or closest friends would rather die than to hurt our feelings even though we are asking them to in earnestness for a very important purpose.
Nonetheless, and especially if you are in a team setting, you owe it to the people that you care about and the people depending on you to understand where you are falling way short and then redouble your efforts to shore up those weaknesses.
4. Bite Off More than You Can Chew
You know what they say when it comes to working out in the gym. No pain no gain. I’ve heard it put another way, no exertion no expansion.
I particularly like the latter one because it is a slightly whimsical turn of that same phrase, but I think it applies even better when it comes to skill sets and skill building, particularly building prepping skills.
If you aren’t stretching, hurting, and sometimes failing then you aren’t getting stronger, if you aren’t getting stronger that means you aren’t growing.
Accordingly, we need to stop lying to ourselves about what we are truly capable of tackling.
If you think you can head out into the wilderness with nothing but your trusty pocket knife and survive off of snake meat after constructing a primitive shelter, but you’ve never really done that, what does that say about you?
It says you are a braggart, but it also tells me that you don’t really know what you’re capable of.
The solution is to bite off more than you can chew. Take that weekend or week-long camping trip into the woods with minimal gear and minimal supplies, if any.
Refuse to ask for help when you get lost. Take some risks, and get in danger!
Just like working out at the gym, working out your survival skills in this way will increase both your capability and your genuine confidence.
And just so we are clear, I’m not saying do something that is truly pants-on-head idiotic that could very well get you killed.
If you are heading out there camping without a net so to speak, make sure that friends and loved ones know about where you are going and when you are going to be back, and when they can expect to hear from you.
We generally don’t want to die in our training evolutions after all!
5. Assess Your Own Past Failures
One thing that I have found highly instructive for my own prepping purposes is to be brutally honest when dissecting my own personal failures in the past, and particularly failures where I screwed up badly and let myself down or let down the people that were counting on me.
Over time, our minds have a way of glossing over and shellacking these failure points until they aren’t so tender, so raw in the touching anymore and I find that robs me of motivation to do better.
I’m betting you can do the same for yourself, so take a tip from me on this one. When you are doing your failure point review, write it down in detail.
Write down what was at stake, what was required, what you did, what wound up happening, and then how you and everyone else felt about it.
Go over that a few times and then think carefully about every salient point.
Now, I don’t want you to turn into a flagellant beating yourself up into a bloody mess over it.
You should put all of those parts in their proper place at the end of the exercise, but at the end of that exercise, you should have gained insight and resolve, and understanding that you can put to use to bust out of your current comfort zone.
In this way, you will ensure that that event you wrote about won’t happen again.
6. Help Out After a Disaster Strikes
As I mentioned above, most preppers have never truly experienced a proper, full-blown disaster or catastrophe before. Daily emergencies, yes. Small-scale disasters, probably also yes.
But huge, regional, foundation-rattling disasters? No. Thankfully no, but this does nothing to help prepare them for facing their own.
Happily for us, there is a way to start inoculating ourselves against the chaos and the surreal shift in perception that is attendant with destruction on a massive scale and all of the second and third-order effects that accompany it.
Go volunteer to help out at the site of a major disaster doing whatever you think you can to assist.
First, you’ll get to see, really see what is going to happen to your neck of the woods and your people when your number comes up.
Next, you’ll get to experience at least partially the effects of that disaster, from the loss of utilities and societal niceties to the logistical nightmare and attendant degradation and human virtue that accompanies them.
Chances are you’ll actually get to see the best and the worst of humanity on display side by side, and that is an informative lesson in itself.
But whatever the outcome, you’ll be without excuse when it comes to knowing what true disaster looks like from that point on.
7. Understand the Human Enemy
In a similar vein to volunteering for disaster relief efforts, as a sort of method to understand a threat, we should also strive to understand the human threat that every one of us could potentially face day in and day out.
From the violent, opportunistic criminal to the truly evil mongrels that have ever lurked in the darker corners of our world, and sometimes right in the pews next to us at church, there is no shortage of people who would pray upon their fellow man.
It’s way too easy to write the average violent criminal off as the desperate drags of society, too slow, too dumb, and too desperate to simply partake of the fruits of civilization like the rest of us.
This is a comfortable answer, but it is neither complete nor is it accurate, and it is only a short hop and a skip away from completely underestimating your enemy.
Our enemy, be it a mugger who accosts us in a parking lot or a smash-and-grab team of home invaders kicking the door in on our domicile at 3:00 in the morning, are all more experienced and better at using violence than 99% of us.
They are certainly more comfortable and ready to use violence with no remorse, and that counts for a lot.
We must not fall into the trap of thinking that because we have morals we are somehow advantaged over them when it comes to combat. Much of the time, we are not.
Accordingly, we should make it a point to learn, truly learn, everything we can about these people that we can, both from our own honest, bias-free analysis and from their own accounts and autobiographies.
Many criminals from decades past and all the way up through today talk freely and, surprisingly, honestly about their exploits, mindset, and objectives and this is a literal gold mine, a master class when it comes to understanding the darker elements of society.
8. Buy Training and Experience, Not Stuff
If there is one thing that all preppers love it is buying new stuff. New gear, new equipment, new supplies. Stuff, thangs and gubbins!
Trust me; I’m not living in a glass house here because I’m the same way. Call it an abundance of material preparation or just retail therapy and I’m probably guilty of either on any given day.
However, this is yet another trap of complacency that preppers fall into because it is entirely too easy to actually believe that you can buy skill, or you can buy hardware solutions to problems that will only be solved by sophisticated mental software.
Put another way, the tools don’t matter if you don’t have the skill and experience!
It’s painful, and it’s a lot less fun, but you should omit buying probably 90% of the things you want to buy as a prepper in lieu of putting that money towards training from vetted instructors and institutions.
If you’ve got the skills you can make or make use of whatever tools you find, but lacking the skills no amount of tools purchased at any price will make the difference.
Also, consider that education, experience, and skill weighs nothing and takes up no space in your pack.
It can go with you wherever you go and can never be separated from you. It cannot be banned, lost, or stolen.
When it comes to durable preps training and expertise are the ultimate, and represent a perfect value when it comes to financial investment.
9. Spar for Real
I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that most preppers, or at least most male preppers, believe they can fight and a significant fraction of them believe that they are damn good fighters without any evidence to support that assumption and belief in themselves.
This is sure to upset some folks and it’s definitely going to raise some temperatures, but it’s the truth.
Most people can’t fight worth a damn and most people have never even been in a legitimate fight in their entire lives, a schoolyard scrap notwithstanding.
And a whole lot of martial artists who practiced traditional martial arts have never been in a real fight either.
Highly choreographed katas or low speed, low force sparring against opponents playing by the same rules and using the exact same techniques as you are is not fighting and doesn’t really prepare you for real fighting.
No, what is required to prepare yourself for real, life or death fighting is practice against an opponent who is going as fast as they can and using as much force as necessary to beat you into a pulp and potentially kill you.
They aren’t going to feed you a choreographed or pre-programmed move or set of moves.
It is chaos, fast, and frantic, and anybody who has ever seen real combat will tell you that you train as you are going to fight.
This means that we must engage in full contact, hardcore sparring. Sparring with appropriate safety precautions and one called-for safety gear, yes, but real sparring hurts and will leave you with a rogue’s gallery of minor injuries and that is just the way it is.
If you have never been in a real fight, and I mean a real one, even in training, stop kidding yourself.
10. Get Force-on-Force Training
This is the gun counterpart to the entry above. I know tons of preppers who also happen to be gun people, and really serious about being a good marksman.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to protect themselves or someone else in the deafening chaos of a gunfight.
Banging out reps on the square range regularly, even weekly, it certainly foundational to good gun handling skill and accuracy, but it does not encompass the totality of the event.
A typical civilian violent encounter that involves a gun is going to happen fast, and may well involve coming into contact with the assailant.
This means that getting your gun out, to say nothing of maintaining control of it and still shooting it accurately, will be anything but easy and may well look nothing like your typical, picture-perfect square range shooting session.
The cure for this, as you might expect, is to get quality force-on-force training using firearms simulators from a vetted instructor and good role players who know how to provide meaningful interactions to the trainee.
This type of training is not very common for civilians, and fewer still are the instructors who do it right and safely, but it is absolutely invaluable if you want to stop BS’ing yourself about your real capability with a gun in a fight.
As preppers, we want to be ready but we should never get too high on our own Supply and think ourselves truly ready.
There is always more to do, more to learn, and more to prepare for, and in order to keep the prepping train rolling ever forward we can never settle into being comfortable with our current level of readiness.
When you know, or even suspect, that you have gotten too comfortable it is time to shake things up and punish yourself a little bit so that you can push yourself to that next level of performance. The 10 action items on this list will help you get there.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.