A necessary prepping mindset begins with each of us as individuals.
To become a solid prepper, we need to become more situationally aware. We should also work on improving our preparedness skill level and decision-making abilities.
As you become more proficient with your prepping mindset and skills, you will be able to build upon your prepper foundation and expand. The steps discussed here and in the podcast apply to both advanced and novice preppers.
They will aid the advanced prepper in, as should always happen, reevaluating their preps. This reevaluation will assist in discovering and overcoming any preparedness shortfalls.
Similarly, these prepping mindset steps offer the novice prepper with a roadmap to efficient, effective, and thorough preparedness efforts.
Review this article, listen to the podcast, and post your thoughts in the comments below so that everyone can benefit from your experience.
Consider Event Probability
What’s More Likely?
With your current prepping mindset, what do you think will be the most likely situation you’ll encounter? Will it be an SHTF event, a criminal, an auto accident, or something else? Most likely, it won’t be an SHTF event. After all, your chances of experiencing an EMP are far less than the possibility of being you being mugged.
Don’t Focus Only on Mega Events
Don’t put all your focus on the mega events that wipe out society as we know it. Are such events possible? Sure, but they are unlikely.
Focus on the More Likely Threat
Instead, you should focus on the scenarios that are likely to impact your daily life. By focusing on situations that are more likely to happen, you’ll be better able to respond when they do.
Your Refined Focus Will Improve Your Daily Life
This will improve your overall safety, situational awareness, and daily life. It will also establish a solid base to build on for dealing with a significant event, should it happen.
Being more alert in your daily life will force you to look and see the world around you. In turn, you’ll pick your head up out of your phone and see what’s going on. You’ll become part of the active world again.
Learn the Basics Now
Learn without Stress
Now is the time to become more knowledgeable in a basic prepping mindset. Learning skills now will allow you to learn in conditions that aren’t stressful, without your life depends upon them. This lets you learn through trial and error and to establish a solid foundation to build upon.
But I Am an Experienced Prepper
If you are a seasoned prepper, learning, or rehashing the basics will help reinforce what you already know.
Additionally, it will cause you to reexamine your current plans, strategies and actual preps. When you do, you will learn and improve upon what you already have in place.
This will make you more resilient and capable.
Improve Your Skills
Skill Proficiency = (Training + Stress) x (Repetitions + Variety)
What’s that? Am I a math wizard? Nope, I stunk at math and barely passed it in high school.
However, this formula states that you can improve your skills by using a set structure for improvement. You will develop your skills by repeatedly training the skill under a variety of stress-inducing conditions.
Focus on Simple Skills and Processes
By focusing on simple things, you will increase your mindset, awareness, and physical and emotional ability to function while stressed.
Doing this is not easy. It requires thought, effort and time management.
Be Honest with Yourself
Be honest with yourself. Admit what you know and don’t know. Leave your pride at the door, and you’ll go a long way towards self-improvement.
Seek Out Knowledge
Continuously look to improve yourself. Learn from others. Expand your horizons. Whether it is through other podcasts, blogs, events, etc., there is a wealth of information available to you.
Four Stages of Competence
When learning and reinforcing skills, we do so in four distinct stages.
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence
People in this stage do not understand or know how to do something. They may not even recognize their inability. If they do, they may downplay the usefulness of the skill. Before improving, the person must admit their lack of ability and place value, or a reason, on why they should learn the new skill.
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence
Someone in this stage knows they do not know how to do the skill. They understand that learning the skill will help them improve. They work to learn the skill, making mistakes, etc. while working through the learning process.
Stage 3: Conscious Competence
The person knows how to do the skill. However, doing so requires concentration.
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence
The person is so good at the skill that it is considered second nature. They don’t have to think about it and can do it when working on other tasks.
Solid Skills Create Solid Decision-Makers
As you build your internal skills library, you’ll also improve your decision-making ability. The various skills and experiences you gain while learning them work in your favor.
So, never stop learning. Always push on and seek to better yourself. As you do, you will improve yourself in ways that you never realized.
Focus on Solutions
Be a solution-focused person.
Avoid concentrating on the bad part of what’s happening.
Instead, concentrate on how you are going to eliminate or reduce the consequences of the situation you’re in. As you do, you will simultaneously improve the outcome for you and your family.
Establish Behavior Patterns
What Are Behavior Patterns?
Behavior patterns (habits) are skills and actions that you develop over time, which become second nature.
Behavior patterns include things like walking the fire exits of a hotel, your work, or another new environment when you first arrive. Getting in your car and looking to see that all your mirrors are right is a behavior pattern. Looking out the peephole or out a window to see who is knocking at your door is another example.
Behavior patterns are all those things we regularly do in our daily lives. In this case, they are behavior patterns that are designed to keep you safe, secure and prepared.
Why Establish Behavior Patterns?
Establishing behavior patterns makes you more resilient. It raises your level of situational awareness. It improves your ability to make positive, well-informed decisions, which feed into taking positive action.
Improve Your Situational Awareness
Situational Awareness Saves Lives!
Keep yourself in tune with what is going on around you. Don’t drive into downtown on a day when there are protests scheduled. If you’re in an area where people look sketchy or are acting weird, you should leave it. Use your head and life experience to keep yourself out of bad situations.
Keep Your Head on a Swivel
The point is, keep your head on a swivel. Don’t lose yourself in your smartphone. Keep an eye on what is happening around you. That includes your immediate area of operations (A.O.), regionally, nationally and internationally. After all, if you don’t identify an event that may impact you locally or globally ahead of time; you will be playing catchup should it happen.
Evaluate Possible Impactful Scenarios
Focusing on and developing a basic prepping mindset improves your ability to evaluate potentially life-altering situations as they develop.
Improves Your Everyday Life
Enhancing your mindset makes you more likely to deal with the day-to-day threats we all face successfully. Because of this, you will be less likely to be affected by crime, accidents, disasters, etc.
Be Active, Live Life!
One of the best things about improving your situational awareness is you become more active in the world around you. How great is that?
Improve Your Decision-Making Process
Enhanced Prepping Mindset Equals Better Decision-Making
As you improve your prepping mindset, your decision-making process will also improve. Your decision-making will become more fine-tuned and accurate. This will increase your overall efficiency, effectiveness, and thoroughness.
The goal of your decision-making process is to be able to make decisions before an incident.
If you find yourself in an unavoidable situation, you’ll be better able to make a positive decision. That decision will be one that minimizes the impact on you and your family.
Improve Your Emotional and Physical Resiliency
Do Hard Things
Put in time and effort to challenge yourself, to make it hard for yourself.
Go to training that stresses you emotionally and physically. When you finish the training, bring newly-learned skills home and use them as your own. Teach them to others.
Improve everyone’s overall capability and effectiveness.
Many of us are guilty of not being fit. If you genuinely want to be prepared for a dangerous situation, you need to consider fitness as a key requirement.
The military doesn’t do fitness because everyone enjoys it. The military requires fitness because it’s what’s needed and improves the chances to overcome adverse situations.
If you’re not fit, consider getting back in shape. First, get a checkup from your doctor. Let your doc know that you want to begin to exercise again. Once you get the okay, then get after it.
Fitness doesn’t require a gym. If you’re out of shape, start by walking. Get up, get outside and walk or do something. Over time, you can mix your walks in with hikes, carry a pack, whatever, so you are being timed efficient. Is there a better way than to combine fitness training with carrying a backpack and learning your area?
Train Like You Fight
That was the saying in the military. In other words, train like you mean it. Remember the crawl, walk, run from before? Well, this is the run phase.
We get ready for real-world scenarios by making plans and training as real as possible. Fighters spar with opponents. Firefighters train in burn towers. The military conducts live fire training. They all work to make training as authentic as possible.
Within limitations of first considering safety and not doing anything stupid, you should make training as real as possible.
Build a Solid Plan
Don’t Distort the Scenario
Some people tend to distort a scenario in ways that reinforce the assumed effectiveness of their plan. For example, they believe their plan is reliable regardless of the situation.
People tend to believe this because they think they have all their bases covered. They feel an event will happen exactly as they planned. Don’t be that person.
Take a realistic look at your plan. Discuss it with others you trust and rehearse it. Look for the flaws in your plan and adjust.
Finding flaws in your plan is not a bad thing. Instead, it is a good thing because when you address those weaknesses, you end up with a better plan.
Avoid Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is when someone interprets information favorably so that it confirms their beliefs.
People who do this are not being honest and truthful with themselves. They have put too much pride into their plan, and as a result, they run the risk of the plan failing.
Do Not Plan a Pre-Determined Result
Do not pre-determine the outcome of your plan. As with avoiding confirmation bias, you don’t want to assume you can predict the successful outcome. Doing so will limit the unbiased review of your plan and is counter to a stable prepping mindset.
Expect the Unexpected and Plan for the Impossible
We tend to plan for best-case scenarios. For example, a plan may initially assume an event happens when the family is all at home, under ideal conditions. While this is an excellent base to start from, it is not likely.
An excellent prepping mindset rule is to always look for the unwanted surprises and inject problems into your planning process and review efforts.
Thinking of What Ifs Improves Your Flexibility and Resiliency
Work on contingency plans that include what-if scenarios. What if your kids are staying at a friend’s house? How about if you’re away on a work trip or a weekend outing? What if you’re out to dinner on the other side of town?
What if your plan to death and it will pay off later, should an emergency occur. You will less likely be caught off guard and unprepared. After all, isn’t that our ultimate prepping goal?
As you what-if and discuss your plan, you’ll gradually get buy-in from those involved. Buy-in is essential, so people are both confident in and enthused about your plan.
This will pay off later when rehearsing or putting the plan into action. It will also benefit you when creating other plans as people will have confidence in your ability.
Prepare the Plan So People Are Interchangeable
Try to avoid putting specific people into specific roles. Instead, make sure anyone can function in any position. After all, if your plan calls for a particular person to do something, what happens if that person is gone?
What if you designate someone to be your medical provider and that person is the one injured? Who will perform the treatment?
Remember, to ensure your plan is as flexible as possible and in so doing you will expand your prepping mindset.
Use the P.A.C.E. acronym to aid in improving your plan’s flexibility.
P.A.C.E. stands for:
While initially used to identify backup communication methods, P.A.C.E. can be used for any plan requiring flexibility and redundancy.
You don’t need to create four alternatives. However, as preppers like to say, “One is none. Two is one.”
So, if you are planning routes to your bug-out location (BOL), plan your primary route. Then plan an alternate route should the primary be shut down. Perhaps the primary highway route is jammed; you now have an alternate. Continue developing backup routes, or whatever it is your planning for until you are set.
Stress Test Your Plan
Rehearse the Plan
A stable prepping mindset requires that you don’t forget to rehearse your plan and its contingencies. In the example above, drive the routes to your BOL at different times and under various conditions. Try the routes in high-traffic hours, or in bad weather, or at night. You’ll learn a lot that will help you have faith in your plan and adjust it if necessary.
Rehearsing will also make you, and those involved more confident and capable should the plan ever need to be put into action.
Increase the Stress
When working on your plan, you should consider the crawl, walk, run method of reviewing and rehearsing.
Once your plan is ready, brief it to the people involved. Have them provide you with back briefs. This is when you ask them parts of the plan. They should be able to answer your questions without a problem. If they can’t, go over the section again. Do this until everyone involved knows the plan.
Try your plan without any time constraints or stress. Understand in advance that people will make mistakes. Don’t berate or belittle people when mistakes are made. Use the opportunity to provide a positive learning and reinforcing experience.
Once people have the plan down and have worked it, it’s now time to turn up the heat. Find ways to add stress to the plan. Perhaps launch the plan with no notice. Put a timer into play to see how fast you or the group is. Do it when everyone is tired.
The important part is that when you execute the plan for real, it’s not the first time you’ve done it.
Throw twists and turns into your plan.
If you are driving to your BOL, simulate a flat tire. See how fast the tire gets changed. You will probably find that little contingency things such as tire changing will require a plan.
For example, do you get out and solely change the tire? That would be too slow. Instead, plan for a rehearse like a NASCAR pit crew. Everyone should have their job. There’s the jack man, the lug nut man, the tire grabber, etc. Don’t forget you will probably want security in place.
In Iraq, we had tire changes down to under 3 minutes from the time we cracked the doors to finish. We spent a lot of time planning, rehearsing and refining this skill. You can do the same with specific skills required to execute your plan.
Never be complacent. Always strive for improvement and excellence.
Employ Operational Security (OpSec)
Be cautious with who you tell about your preparedness measures and plans. You don’t know what their motivations are.
Some people support you. Others, however, may try to use you to their advantage. This includes using information about you to their benefit, whatever that benefit may be. It could be to seek acceptance by gossiping about you. Or, in a worst-case scenario, they could seek to harm you by passing on information about you.
Because of this, I keep my personal information to myself and to my small circle of those who I trust completely.
Analyze Your Sphere
Who is in your sphere of influence? Your area of influence includes your neighbors, coworkers, family, friends, and others.
It’s up to you to determine who those people are and their level of trustworthiness. Do you have a Mr. Johnson next door who is a pain in your butt and could cause you problems? Or, do you have a Brian Duff next door, which is fantastic!
Information Is Gold
In a grid-down scenario, information is gold. All we have to do is look throughout history to see repetitive examples of how people betray one another. Heck, look in the Bible at the story of Judas.
Ultimately, if you don’t give information out to people who don’t need it, you’ll protect yourself from potential problems later.
Stay off the “X” Rather Than Fight the “X”
In the military and security world, the “X” is where you and the bad guys, or bad the situation, meet.
One great way to ensure you maximize your prepping mindset so that you survive and thrive is to avoid confrontation. You avoid confrontation by being situationally aware.
Counter-surveillance is the art and skill of ensuring you are not being watched, followed, etc. If you are, counter-surveillance will help you detect who is watching you. With that information, you can then decide upon a proper course of action to deal with the threat.
B.R.A.S.H. is an acronym to help you better identify people who may be following or watching you. It stands for:
By identifying the B.R.A.S.H. traits in a person, you will be better able to notice if someone is surveilling you. Additionally, by using this B.R.A.S.H. on a regular basis, you will eventually use it as second nature. When you do this, you’ll naturally more frequently begin to notice people and what they are doing.
Trust Your Gut
Your Gut Is Right!
Your gut is usually right. When the hairs stand-up on the back of your neck, or you get that strange feeling in your stomach, it’s often your subconscious telling you something.
Subconsciously, you pick up a lot more information than you do consciously. You also don’t include your personal bias and political correctness in your subconscious decision-making process.
However, you do include those constraints when you consciously interpret your subconscious warnings. So, listen to your gut and you'll expand your prepping mindset!
Never forget, you’re just one prep away.
If you have any other thoughts or questions about the prepping mindset, please leave a comment below.
Stay safe, secure and prepared,
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