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  • The Pickled Prepper

Treat Prepping Like a Job

People wonder how I became so well prepared. The answer is simple: I set goals, and I worked hard to achieve them. You can do it, too.

Was my goal to own and live on an isolated prepper property? Yes, but that was an end goal, and it took me 25 years to get there. There were hundreds of intermediate goals. It’s great to have a long-term goal, but it could be disheartening to measure your progress against it. Small steps are better.

For example, one of my first goals was to develop a bugout kit that would support a family of four for three days. With young children, we weren’t going to be walking very far, so we counted on a vehicular bug out.

My second goal was to move somewhere less crowded and safer than my apartment in one of New York City’s outlying boroughs. That meant interviewing for jobs in other cities and finding a suitable place to live within a reasonable commuting distance. We landed on a couple of acres outside a smaller city that had a stream in the backyard. When we unloaded the U-Haul, it seemed like paradise.

My next goal was to build up a three-month supply of food. I would buy six #10 cans at a time because that is how many would fit in a case. I don’t remember my first order, but I know it had garbanzo beans and macaroni elbows in it.

As the threat of Y2K grew—and they considered it a serious threat back in the 1997/98 time frame—our goals changed. We moved further out, invested in a Chinese-made diesel generator, and built our food supply and a small arsenal.

Lots of small steps, but each one was progress.

Be Smart

If someone hired you as a consultant to help them prepare, you’d probably ask them a series of questions: What threats do you expect to face? What’s your budget? What’s your time frame? So ask yourselves the same question and put together SMART goals. That means you want goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Here’s a generic goal: I want to be so prepared my family and I can survive any disaster. That sounds good, but it’s too broad a goal, it has no timeframe, and how will you know when you have achieved it?

By contrast, here’s a SMART goal: By March 31, I want to have a stockpile of long-term food that will provide six people at least 2,500 calories per day for six months.

That is very specific. You can add up the calories in your food stash and know when you are halfway there and when you have met the goal, so it is also measurable. (By the way, that’s around 2.7 million calories.) Only you will know if it is achievable given your budget, but food storage is relevant to prepping and you have given a deadline, so it’s time-bound.

What happens if March 31 rolls around and you are only two-thirds of the way to your goal? You look at why you failed, you try to address it, and you extend the deadline. Your chances of meeting your goal are far higher if you write the goal down and look at it from time to time than if you make a “mental note” that you want to buy six months of food for six people. Put it in writing and hold yourself accountable.

Multiple Goals

It’s OK to have more than one goal, but they should be in different areas. For example, if your food storage goal is going to use up your budget, then other goals should be achievable with low or no expenditures.

Here’s a goal that is inexpensive: to meet at least six of my eight nearest neighbors by December 31st and determine if they represent a potential resource or threat in a SHTF event.

Another example might be to learn a skill. Your goal could be to get a passing grade in the leather working class offered next spring as continuing education at the community college.

You could also have a physical goal like this: to build a three-sided compost bin out of pallets by November 30 and to start composting grass clippings, leaves, and kitchen waste.

If you made these four goals right now and achieved them all in six months or less, you would have made big strides in becoming more prepared. Obviously, we won’t all have the same goals, so make up your own SMART goals and writ them down. Hold yourself accountable.

Work at it

Prepping will not get done by itself; you have to work at it. That means you have to make an effort. The greater the effort, the more you will get done.

Speaking of work, a goal of getting a second job to generate more money to spend on prepping supplies is fine; just make sure it’s a SMART goal. Give yourself a target for how much money you want to raise within what time frame.

As much as we hate to admit it, most of us have hours of time per day that we could put to better use. Often, we don’t use that time productively because we don’t want to. It’s easier to binge watch something or hang on social media than it is to get a second job, like driving for Uber Eats. So weigh in your mind the pros and benefits of binge watching yet another show or going to that class, or building that compost bin, or making some money so you can meet your food storage goal. In the end, it’s up to you.

I mean that two ways: Whether your survive a disaster or will depend at least in part on how prepared you are, what skills you have, what supplies you keep, and your perseverance. Becoming prepared is the job. Surviving because you are prepared is the next rung on the ladder. It’s up to you to step up.

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