As preppers, we have taken it upon ourselves to be ready for any of the many crises, disasters and straight up catastrophes that life can throw our way. We do this by building skill sets, acquiring gear and supplies, and crafting intricately layered contingency plans.
The fruit of our efforts is knowing that we and our loved ones that we are responsible for will not be one of those many victims laid low by such events.
Unfortunately, that type of self-assurance, whether it is rated or not, is precisely the antithesis of what prepping is all about.
The second you get comfortable, the second you think you have things all figured out, that you hold all the keys to all the doors is the moment you become complacent. Complacency is comfort, and it is also traitorous.
Resting on your laurels, thinking you have run the race even when you rightly have, is a surefire way to start losing your edge.
Way, way too many preppers operate procedurally, checking off items on their survival “to do” list until they are all completed and, all at once, they are officially ready.
That mindset could see you and your family die horribly. That sounds like you, or someone you know, it is time to get out of the prepping comfort zone.
Complacency is a Certain and Subtle Killer
The heading says it all. Complacency is a stone-cold killer. in any sector of life, any profession or any confrontation it is complacency more than almost anything else that is sure to result in a bad outcome if you allow yourself even a moment in that velveteen, comforting embrace that it offers you.
Complacency is the voice in your head, that little imp on your shoulder, that tells you you are good enough, quick enough, strong enough, that you know enough, that you haven’t missed anything.
Complacency tells you that the worst won’t happen and even if it does it likely won’t be anywhere near as bad as you have imagined, or even planned.
And then, invariably, you will be completely overtaken by events. Outmatched, too slow, too weak, too rusty and too unprepared. At best you’ll get a bad outcome, complete with loss and serious injuries. At worst, you or someone you love will perish.
The second and third order effects of this are quite severe also. Your loved ones are depending on you to know what you are doing. To be confident, to be capable.
Real life disasters and crises of all stripes do not wait for you to be ready. You cannot fake your way out of it like you fake your way into the high esteem of people that won’t be capable of helping you at all when the chips are really down.
Accordingly, the only way to know, to truly know, that you are capable of taking care of business is to get out of that prepping comfort zone. Get out of it, and leave it so far behind that you can’t even see a trace of it in your rear view mirror.
Comfort is the worst trap you could fall into. The only way you’ll defeat it is to constantly strive, constantly grow and never, ever give into complacency.
10 Action Steps to Get Out of Your Prepping Comfort Zone
The following 10 action steps will help snap you out of your prepping comfort zone in very short order.
Whether you are a new prepper who thinks they have it all figured out and have life by the tail, or a seasoned, grizzled prepper of decades who has seen it all and are ready for anything and then some, these tips will disabuse you of your illusions with certainty.
Get in a “Real” Fight
Many are the preppers who believe themselves prepared to throw down in order to defend themselves or their loved ones. Maybe it’s a mouthy drunk, a too aggressive panhandler or any other kind of miscreant that pulls up and stop short.
Regardless, as is customary among men in particular, most think they can fight far better than they really can.
Beyond even this, some preppers have gone the extra mile to learn martial arts, be they traditional or modern.
Spending long hours in the dojos refining dozens of techniques and maneuvers in order to acquire visible status symbols of proficiency in the form of belts and other accoutrement.
I am sorry to say that the vast majority of preppers that fall into either camp will find themselves woefully, hideously outclassed in a physical confrontation.
The bottom line is this. Any techniques, any martial arts skills that you utilize, must work against a resisting opponent who is operating at full speed and at full power with no rules to constrain them.
Anything else is just theater. every martial art technique looks like a winner when you’re sparring partner is laying up a known attack at half speed and a tenth of the power they would use if they were actually trying to hurt you, or kill you.
Everybody thinks they are a badass but all they have to do is bop a mouthy bully on the nose one time to shut them down and stop the fight.
The reality is much different and we can see countless examples of this in the ever-growing number of ancient martial arts Masters who dare to put their quarter up against the best mixed martial arts practitioners today.
Mixed martial arts i(MMA) s an excellent foundational skill for real world fighting, but even it has its limitations and that opponents are not really trying to kill each other and certain techniques remain forbidden for fighter safety.
If you really want to learn what a real fight is like, I would encourage anyone to enroll in full power, full contact mixed martial arts sparring as an eye opener, and then engage in legitimate hand-to-hand combatives sparring from a vetted, worthy trainer.
The latter, in particular, is likely to result in minor injuries as a matter of course and both will highlight in shocking relief your deficiencies in skill or physical fitness.
Stop bullshitting yourself. Most people have never been in a legitimate, life or death fight. That includes most people reading this article. Make sure you are prepared for such an eventuality by training accordingly. Nothing else will do.
In the same way that most guys and preppers and particular think they are entirely competent hand to hand fighters, those who carry or rely on guns for self-defense and in particular those who are seriously into guns believe themselves gunslingers incarnate.
They routinely bang away on the range, or at least periodically, and that group that they are so proud of shot slow fire at close range is all the proof they need when it comes to bonafides.
Much like the above entry, the reality is usually far, far different. Most people don’t even get in a fist fight anymore, and the chances of engaging in a gunfight as a civilian are vanishingly small.
The chances of needing to escape a crashing aircraft using a parachute or vanishingly small too, but you damn well better believe air crews have parachutes and know how to use them. Accordingly, proficiency with our firearms is an absolute must.
The reality of using a firearm for self-defense is far different than typical square range evolutions practiced intermittently if at all. Those evolutions are valuable enough, but they are foundational only in the most basic sense.
Real proficiency with a firearm relies on getting a concealed firearm into action quickly enough and shooting accurately enough to stop a lethal threat before you or someone you love are critically wounded or killed.
Beyond this, most gun battles aren’t stand up, standoff gun battles. Civilians get into fights with their own guns that are very close and often wind up entangled with their assailants.
Grappling in order to get your own gun into gear, to protect it, or just to draw it is a completely foreign concept bordering on the alien for the average civilian gun carrier.
And let us not even get into the high stakes intricacies of building clearing, movement and proper use of cover all the while shooting accurately.
This means that we must learn to spar with our firearms in a variety of real life scenarios and have thinking, breathing adversaries who can behave and react intelligently to our decisions in order to provide us with meaningful training evolutions in decision-making and judgment alongside marksmanship and gun handling.
This type of training is known as force on force and is conducted with Simunition firearms or other firearms equivalent simulator tools.
This kind of training is expensive, painful and very, very humbling and regarding the ladder it definitely should be.
I just like getting into a real fight and getting your ass kicked, the road to real knowledge and proficiency is not one for the faint of heart but it is one that you must travel if you are serious.
Learn About the Bad Guys in their Own Words
Preppers, especially preppers who are worried about human-centric threats, are as a group those responsible for making the boldest and most ominous assumptions about the nature of the threats that they face.
When we consider typical human-centric threats we often see them presented as some human if human at all: cowardly, sneaky, weak, stupid and overconfident, the kind of people that gets scattered like cockroaches when the lights come on at the first sign of resistance and hardly a match for the upright, valiant prepper.
If only that were true, or entirely true. it is, fortunately, true enough that the vast majority of garden variety criminals, even violent ones, are indeed counting on a lack of resistance out of their selected victims, we must consider the context of the violent criminal in totality in order to understand them, in order to be prepared for them.
Consider this. Many of these people do not have any sort of moral code or structure that we would recognize even if one exists at all.
They don’t operate according to the same standards that we do, and may not even be capable of empathy in any meaningful way.
As a rule, these are people that are entirely more comfortable with violence than we are. As a rule, these are people that are orders of magnitude more experienced with using violence against other humans than we are.
This means that they are more likely to be an expert in hurting or killing people and operating in a high level under the circumstances than you are, or me.
Regarding their chosen criminal career track, be it robbery, home invasion, theft or just the sheer bloodthirsty joy of murder you are likely not their first time. They done it before, know what they are doing and are entirely prepared to do it again.
In some mercifully rare cases, you’ll be dealing with a legitimate hardened convict, an unchained predator who is as lethal as anything living on Earth.
The bottom line is, they know exactly what they are doing and what they are capable of, and it will be our first time, win or lose. Any manual of strategy concerning human conflict will tell you the moment that you have underestimated your opponent you have lost.
Don’t fall prey to this trap. Take the time to learn what you can from actual criminals, maybe ex-cons that you personally know or just the testimonies of criminals from bygone eras and today.
That is the only way you’ll begin to understand the nature of the threat we all face.
Talk to Survivors of Legitimate SHTF Events
It is only natural that most preppers believe themselves destined to survive any disaster or crisis event.
After all, they have taken the time to prepare, to put in the work, to get ready. It follows then that it is they and their loved ones who will survive when others perish; because that is the way the fable always ends.
Sure, it might get kind of hairy and some losses must be expected under the circumstances, but all will be well in the end.
Is my opinion that most preppers entirely underestimate the difficulty, the mental duress and the emotional torment of surviving a major event of any kind especially one that their family is subjected to.
For my own part, I have spent much time dealing with and helping people in the aftermath of major disasters and other crises, and have even gone through my own share of such things – and believe me when I tell you that most people are so emotionally and mentally battered by the circumstances that they are effectively inert.
It is highly instructive to seek out and talk to people who have gone through really bad situations and survived.
And I don’t mean survived as they got to run away and see another day more or less intact, I mean people that had to do the equivalent of chew their own legs off to escape a trap.
People who lost loved ones, lost every possession or forced to endure physical anguish and torment for days or months on end. For people that had to debase themselves in every way.
Listen to their testimonies. If there are willing, learn from what went right for them and what went wrong. Maybe they were a prepper just like you and me and, as it turns out, it just didn’t make one damn lick of difference.
Maybe under the circumstances certain preps would have made all the difference. Maybe they did everything right and still lost everything and everyone or nearly so.
Seek out and talk to the people who are crushed flat, pushed to the back side of beyond, past endurance, and still somehow got out alive.
Gut check yourself, and see if you would have fared any differently. Identify those critical elements, and make sure, damn sure, that you won’t make the same mistakes.
Get In Over Your Head
It is said that you only know the measure of a man when he is in the gravest extreme.
A few, very few, rise to the occasion and exhibit surprising character in the face of terrible adversity whereas most breakdown and fall down to their lowest operating level, if they do that at all.
It is easy to say woulda, shoulda, coulda, to talk big and braggadocious and generally fake it. It is easy to cheat your fellows and yourself when it comes to what you are capable of, but you had better believe that you cannot, cannot, cheat the mountain.
A real, life crisis or any other emergency will test you in the way that practical application exercises and classroom learning simply cannot.
Life in all of its infinite permutations has an equally infinite number of variables, scenarios, modifiers and situations that might be befall you.
Accordingly, the only way to know what you are capable of, really know what you’re capable of, is to get in over your head. This is a tricky thing.
You don’t want to get so in over your head that you legitimately might die in the attempting, or put your loved ones in mortal jeopardy, but honestly if the stakes are not substantial then there will be no knowledge in it.
Depending on your objectives and your own context, this event could take different forms.
It might be something as fundamental as heading off into the woods using only your knife or a small hatchet and roughing it for a weekend or a whole week, perhaps longer.
It might be fixing a broken down car, even replacing an entire engine, using only what skills and reference texts you have on hand.
Maybe you just decide you’re going to go for a whole week without food and see what happens.
It could be any number of other typical survival scenarios, only instead of a scenario you’re actually facing a live event because you have placed yourself in one.
Albeit, these events at least have an emergency ripcord. Friends and family will know you’re whereabouts in the woods and when you are due back.
You won’t really be without transportation just because you have undertaken an incredibly difficult and complicated repair project on your car. You will not truly starve being surrounded by food as you are pretty much everywhere in America.
But you will learn an awful lot about yourself, how you behave and what you are capable of under crushing stresses.
Volunteer at the Site of a Disaster
One of the best ways to start learning and understanding the true scope of what you’ll be facing in many disasters, natural or otherwise, is to actually get out and see them.
I don’t mean being a disaster tourist, although plenty of people do that too and while I don’t necessarily agree with it it is difficult to fault them for wanting to see something so momentous with their own eyes.
I’m talking about volunteering at the sites of these disasters in any capacity. Go to these places, see what the damage is like, what it looks like, smells like, feels like, what it has done to people and how it has affected life in the area.
First, you’ll be doing good work, and second you’ll be gaining quite a lot of understanding and seeing the elephant, as the saying goes.
Shock is a real thing, and you don’t have to be physically wounded in order to be shocked into a sort of semi-functional state because of bewilderment.
Furthermore, you’ll see what survivors and first responders are challenged with in vivid detail, and this can further inform your own plans and preparations.
I’d highly recommend this to all preppers, and this is something you are willing to undertake, you shouldn’t have to look very far or very hard to find organizations, agencies and outreaches for helping at the site of any given disaster.
Have a Trusted Friend Audit Your Skillset
Have you ever thought you were good at something only to have that notion disabused and your self-esteem severely dented when someone, usually someone you respect, told you otherwise?
I have, and luckily enough for me it was only my cooking. I always thought I was a pretty good cook but just because I have an unrefined palate and can eat pretty much anything with no complaint doesn’t mean my food was safe for consumption by other humans!
All jokes aside, we really lead two lives no matter how honestly we comport ourselves. We lead our internal life, the way that we imagine ourselves, assess ourselves, and fit ourselves into the greater world and society around us, and then we lead our external life as a judged by others around us, particularly those close to us. Like the old saying says, you never, ever want to truly see you as everyone else sees you.
It is enough to make one’s skin crawl and keep you awake at night, but this is one of those uncomfortable, cringy things that can be incredibly useful in your own personal development and growth, and most particularly in a group setting.
I’d recommend anyone grab someone that is close to you, being a best friend, a mentor figure, a teammate, anyone whom you trust and whose opinion you value that will be honest with you, and ask them where you fall short. Ask them where you don’t measure up, where you disappoint.
I won’t lie to you reader, it cuts pretty quick even when you ask for it and know it is coming, but there is nothing for it. Hearing a trusted teammate or brother in arms tell you that your shooting is pretty sloppy and your first aid skills don’t inspire confidence will hit hard.
Having a spouse tell you that they have ever had concerns about your financial earning capability is gut-wrenching. Having a mentor tell you that you are too specialized and not well-rounded enough or vice versa is going to sit you up straight.
But, getting this advice is absolutely precious for focusing and directing your efforts into shoring up your most glaring weaknesses.
Write a Short Memoir about a Time Your Failed a Loved One
This action step sort of dovetails with the previous one, but it is self-directed. there is hardly anything more informative and clarifying you can do in your own life then writing down, carefully, exactly how you feel about something that happened and then really thinking about it clearly after you’ve written it down and read it a few times.
Sometimes, the only impulse we need is to feel that acid burn of defeat, of loss and of letting down the people that were depending on us.
It sucks, and no one wants to go through it, I know I don’t, but it is pound for pound some of the best and most lasting motivation that we can stoke our own personal boilers with.
I tell every single prepper to perform this exercise. Write it down in a journal, and your log book, in your planning binder, anything that is significant to you. Write down one of these times where you really, truly screwed the pooch and let your loved ones down.
They might not even feel the same way about it you do, and it probably won’t be anything prepping related. But that’s not the point.
The point is you know the score and that’s all that matters. Let the sting of that disappointment fuel you in your efforts to keep any further red out of your ledger in the future.
Give Every Task of Consequence a Harsh Deadline; Live By Them
Too many times as preppers we fail to set or live by any timetables in our lives, save for the most mundane of tasks and chores. Taxes, bills, rent, clocking in on the job we hate, etc.
When it comes to prepping our timetables are always someday, meaning that things will happen when they happen.
While this is true in that you generally will not be able to see or properly predict when a crisis or disaster will occur, the attitude has a sneaky way of infiltrating our life and other aspects.
For instance, tasking that might revolve around prepping often gets bumped to tomorrow or just placed on the back burner entirely because of other real life demands we have to deal with every day.
This should not be done lightly, not the least of which is that you can never predict when, but because you’ll start taking it easy on yourself when it comes to getting things done in a timely fashion.
It is too late, I’m too tired, I don’t have the energy, I don’t have the means and on and on. When you don’t have time tables, strict deadlines, for everything you start speaking the language of excuses and that makes you weaker.
Don’t let this bad habit begin to fester. If you have things you need to do that relate to prepping, be at practice, planning or anything else give yourself a harsh time table and make yourself stick to it.
This has a two-pronged benefit. First, it will be damn uncomfortable, getting you out of your comfort zone and forcing you to grow by increasing your prepping capability.
Second, you’ll have plenty of strict, non-negotiable, no s*** deadlines during a live event, so learning how to overcome adversity in this way and get things done on time when required no matter what is a form of valuable training.
Stop Buying Gear
I saved this last action item till the end of the list because I know it will seriously rustle some jimmies. Too much of prepping, for many, revolves around buying gear and equipment in order to buy capability or readiness.
This is a stereotypically American failing, because we are culturally completely obsessed with labor saving technology, but it’s also endemic to much of the developed world.
Unfortunately, gear doesn’t give you skill and so much of the time in a crisis situation it is only skills that will pay the bills and attain a good outcome, even if the gear is a vital or even necessary prerequisite.
You must know what you are doing, nothing else comes close and don’t kid yourself.
Accordingly, make it a point to stop buying gear. Chances are you don’t need more gear. If you will take the time to inventory your own home and survival stashes you’ll probably find that you have more gear than you could possibly use even in the most outlandish survival scenario.
What you need is training and experience. There is so much to do and so little time to do it in.
You don’t want to be the guy or girl out here that is festooned with gear that is barely used and you have no idea how to really use it. Medical skills, land navigation, performance driving, home repair, austere environment survival and on and on and on.
There is a lot to learn to become well-rounded. Start spending that piggy bank on skill building and not on amassing an ever-growing pile of metal and plastic.
Getting comfortable as a prepper means you aren’t growing, and if you aren’t growing you’re getting weaker and less capable.
The only way to knock off this rust and the ever-present serpent of complacency is to get out of your comfort zone by any means necessary.
Rarely fun, never pleasant, it is nonetheless necessary. Use the 10 action items presented on the list above to snap yourself out of the same old rut and prevent you from becoming a statistic due to overconfidence.