How to Prep for the Hard Times Ahead (Before It’s Too Late)

If there is one old, clichéd saying that is always applicable it is that “the times it will keep on changing.”

If you are living in our current era, you might have noticed plenty of dark clouds gathering on the horizon, and from all directions: cultural changes, government overreach and increasingly wide, some would say unbridgeable, social divides have the most sane “Earth people” worried about what the future holds.

As bad as it might be for somebody who is trained, equipped and prepared for dealing with such tumultuous times, it must be an order of magnitude worse for someone who is none of those things.

If you are someone in the latter category you might feel a crushing weight on your chest, a primordial dread, some instinct of self-defense that warns you are not ready for the trials ahead.

Listen up, we are here to help…

As bad as things may seem, and as bad as they may be for you personally, right now, today, know that if you are alive there is something you can do to take charge of your life and start improving your outlook, no matter how bad things get. It isn’t too late, and today we will prove it.

This article will tell you how to get ready for the hard times that will invariably follow, and how to do it before it’s too late.

Get Your Mind Right, Right Now!

Let’s get to the bottom line, right up front: In any crisis situation, hell, in any high stress situation that demands proper performance for a successful outcome keeping control of your mind, all facets of it, is essential. No ‘ifs’, no ‘ands’, and no ‘buts’.

Mental static of any frequency will degrade your performance when you can least afford it. This includes little things like negative self-talk, and great big things like giving into panic, racing thoughts and the clutching grip of fear and uncertainty.

You’ve got to nip that in the bud, and I mean right now, this very second. Sure, let’s just say you are unprepared, and even unprepared in the face of well-meaning friends and family who tried to get you on the right track months or even years ago.

Let’s even say that you’re as unprepared and worthless as your haters and naysayers say you are, literally little more than a target, a victim in waiting.

But guess what? It doesn’t have to end that way.

Starting now, right now, every positive thought, every action large and small that you take toward ensuring a positive outcome puts one step between you and that great, big Wile E. Coyote-bullseye you’ve been standing on.

Tomorrow you’ll be farther away still. Two weeks from now, even farther. Six months to a year from now you won’t even be able to see where you came from.

That’s the truth. But, we need to get moving and we need to move with a purpose. When you need to get out of the Lost Woods you don’t just take off sprinting in a random direction.

You need to orient yourself, plan, and take meaningful action that will produce the greatest possible good with the least risk and effort. And just like walking out of the Lost Woods, you’ll do it one step at a time.

So brace up, reader! You might have a lot at your disposal or you might have very little, but that won’t make much difference if you have some effort to spare. Let’s get started.

Identify What the Likely Threats Are

Okay, so we know times are bad and that our current position, skills and provisions are just not up to the task of getting us out the other side unless Lady Luck and Admiral Awesome are both at our elbow. Trusting to luck is not a strategy, so what do we do about it?

Before you can properly react, or even plan to react, to a threat you must first identify precisely what the threat is. It is the nature of the threat that will inform every choice you make from here on out.

For instance, you won’t get ready for a natural disaster and the same way you’ll get ready for a human-centric threat. Your personal circumstances, too, will inform a specific response.

But on the other hand, take heart, because many preps are so basic, so universal, that they are invariably useful in nearly any crisis.

You won’t be learning four, five or six sets of ultra-specialized, esoteric knowledge to deal with the pressing threats in your life or in your region.

Anyway, more on that later. So, by way of a “for instance,” what are some common threats you might be facing down? These are just examples, yours might be different:

  • Despite the best efforts of citizens, law enforcement and civilian leadership your home city has become ground zero for a populist, and violent, political movement. Protests are now riots. Littering has turned into wholesale property destruction. Shouting and chanting has given way to targeted, partisan beatings. Your family is scared out of their minds, but you don’t know that you can afford to quit your local job and get out while the getting is good. How to handle this situation?
  • It sure seems like the America that was is all but gone. Political brinkmanship is the order of the day, and lines are being drawn. Pretty soon, people on the other side of the aisle aren’t going to be welcome in your town and you aren’t going to be welcome in theirs, and who knows what will happen after that. It really seems like a civil war is inevitable and the danger that represents is overwhelming. What can anyone do to get ready for such an event?
  • Through a comically tragic series of events, you have wound up one misstep away from true poverty and genuine homelessness. Your bank account is empty, your wallet is right behind it, your credit cards are maxed out and you’re constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul, all in a vain effort to keep your head above water. All of the “big people” in society seem to get bailouts, but never people like you and me. How can you arrest the situation, stop the financial bleeding and fortify your personal or family finances?
  • You love the region where you live, but Mother Nature does not seem to love it back, as it is subjected to regular and spectacularly destructive natural disasters. Earthquakes, avalanches, tornadoes or hurricanes have missed you thus far, almost as if you live a charmed life, but the last big one that came through completely obliterated the neighboring city. A sense of dread has gripped you, and now you feel your number has come up. How can one prepare for such monumental displays of power?

So, what are you afraid of? Get specific with it. Once you know exactly what you are dealing with, it is time to get it in gear and start taking active, achievable steps to ameliorating the danger. Nothing to it, and you are already well on your way.

What Is Your Specific Vulnerability?

Okay, so you have identified the threat. That’s the first part of proper threat assessment, but the second part is determining your specific vulnerability to that threat.

Don’t worry, this isn’t particularly difficult and you don’t need to be a bodyguard or certified in executive protection skills to figure this stuff out.

We are just drilling down for a little more detail, detail we discover by examining how we fit into the circumstances under which the threat will occur. Then, we start working on it.

Let us use the hypothetical examples established in the previous section in this section so it will make more sense:

  • Living in a city that is being put under more and more scrutiny, and continual action, by political partisans is bad enough, but you have the misfortune of working for a local company that has drawn the ire of this group specifically. Employees are being continually harassed, some have seen their vehicles damaged or destroyed, and a few are even being targeted at their homes. You think it is just a matter of time until your turn comes up. You need to know how to deal with mobs, and how to protect your property while staying inside the law, and the politically charged atmosphere is sure to make the latter particularly difficult.
  • It is hard to say exactly what a legitimate civil war in America would look like in our day and age, but we already know what a civil “cold war” looks like. Nonetheless, we can look to other civilized nations who have experienced similar conflicts to inform our own opinion. You live in a small town, one with a mostly uniform political and religious ideology, but that town is smack in-between two larger cities with competing ideologies. You’ll need plenty of supplies, a network of contacts to establish safe harbors you can retreat to, and lots of know-how when it comes to navigating uncertain and hostile landscapes where “others” might be accosted or even killed for their loyalties.
  • Solving a personal financial crisis is not particularly difficult intellectually, but putting the pieces together can be tough. Do you lack sufficient income, or have too many expenses? Has a crisis placed a substantial and unforeseen monetary burden on you and yours? The best approach is identifying the most glaring and painful problems and alleviating them first.
  • Wherever you live, and whatever your living situation, there will be a certain kind of natural disaster that can threaten you. The first step in defending against such a threat is to determine how likely such events occur and then assessing your home against them. If your home is particularly vulnerable, evacuation or taking shelter in an appropriate structure is your only option. Surviving the aftermath of any disaster is made easier by obtaining and stockpiling appropriate supplies and survival gear in order to self-sustain while things get put back together.

Okay, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now that you know what can hurt you, and how, you are ready to implement practical action to keep that from happening. Keep reading.

Fix Your Biggest / Worst Problems First and Fast

Time to eliminate your specific vulnerabilities and do it today, or at least start working on it today. How? Where does one begin?

As with all things, at the beginning, and the beginning, for your purposes, is by starting to do the things that make you less vulnerable, or in certain cases stopping the activities and choices that make you more vulnerable.

Now, some fixes work like a light switch- on or off- and just that quick or easy once you make a different choice on the matter.

However, others we’ll take a considerable amount of time, effort and even wholesale lifestyle changes to implement. What does this look like in the context of our ongoing hypothetical examples above?

Well, one example of a “light switch” fix that is easy and quick to implement in the context of improving personal security, particularly at home, would be creating and sticking to a strict regimen upon returning home and before retiring at night.

Things like checking the integrity and lock status of all windows and doors, locking up or removing any items outside that could be used to break into the home, and improving the overall protection factor of the home by making it less appealing to burglars or intruders.

A longer-term effort that will accordingly pay high dividends is acquiring a firearm and enrolling in training to learn the skills needed to defend your home, and then spending time on the range in order to refine those skills.

Turning back to a natural disaster, you might be able to harden your home in order to prevent its total destruction or just the loss of life in case it strikes again.

Tornadoes cannot be defeated, but you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe by installing an in-home or exterior tornado shelter.

A property that is not unduly threatened by flooding can be protected by raising dikes or other barriers around the perimeter, or by acquiring a large quantity of sandbags ready for filling ahead of such an event.

As always, this must be filtered through the lens of what you, yourself,can practically achieve, both financially and in terms of effort or “sweat equity.”

You might not be able to install a tornado shelter in the example above because you cannot afford it, but you can afford to furnish the sturdiest room in your home with additional supplies and gear to improve your chances of survival, or perhaps talk to your neighbor, who does have such a shelter, and to allowing your family mutual access in return for some favor from you.

The point is, don’t focus on what you don’t have or can’t achieve. If you can’t do it, then you just can’t do it, at least right away. But there is always something you can do while you work toward bigger picture solutions.

Focus on Basic “Life Support” Needs

The question now, as always, is how you will survive in the aftermath of a crisis, natural disaster, society toppling event, etc.

It is natural to be concerned about the loss of things like your home, all your possessions, even your carefully arranged survival gear that you are depending on.

Losing all of that, what will you have to depend on? How will you provide for yourself and your family in these terrible and trying times?

The answer is far simpler than you might imagine. I am referring to the necessities of survival, and I mean the real, primal down-and-dirty necessities, not your super fancy coffee drink you pick up every morning on your commute to work that helps you slouch through yet another soulless day in the cubicle.

I’m talking about the stuff that will keep a human being alive and their core temperature above 98.6° F. The following factors are absolute survival requirements for every, single human being on Earth:


Air, oxygen to breathe, is the most pressing survival necessity although it is so common most preppers take it for granted and put shelter at the top of this list instead.

You can only go a few minutes, tops, without any air to breathe before you are unconscious, and a few minutes after that brain damage, organ failure and hard death occurs unless you are some kind of super-athlete or crazy free diver.

Thankfully, in most situations you won’t have to worry about the long-term availability of air, but many natural and man-made disasters can severely degrade air quality in the short term, making asphyxiation a very real hazard or presenting health risks in the aftermath.


Shelter is another major survival consideration, and in areas that are blisteringly cold, (or when you are experiencing the trifecta of bad circumstances- cold, wet and windy) death can occur in as little as a few hours.

Extremely hot areas with no shade and no suitable shelter can also kill quickly via hyperthermia, heatstroke.

Simple exposure is overwhelmingly one of the most common and certain killers and outdoor survival situations so you must plan accordingly to provide shelter with the right gear and the right skills.


Clean drinking water is an incredibly precious resource, and one we are supremely blessed to have in abundance throughout America.

Not everywhere is so lucky, and we can become unlucky in the aftermath of all sorts of bad situations, be it the disruption of public utilities from a natural disaster or the deliberate sabotage or poisoning of the same water supplies by hostile humans.

two rain barrels on cinder blocks for rainwater collection

Dehydration is another swift, sure killer, and though you can go a couple of days without anything at all to drink your health and condition will degrade precipitously well before then.

You must have plenty of potable water on hand to consider yourself a prepper, and also have the means and the skills to make found water sources safe to drink.


Most people, preppers included, are disproportionately wrapped up in stockpiling food, because food is profoundly emotional in a way that other survival necessities are not.

However, the good news is that it is entirely possible to go weeks without any food whatsoever and survive, and you’ll be able to go several days, at least, without any meals and continue to function at a more or less nominal level- even if it is abject misery!

A modest stockpile of a few days’ worth of food is all you will need to ably survive most situations and maintain your energy level.

homemade cans of food on shelves

Now, some people argue that there are really five, or six, or ten real-deal survival necessities, things like security, companionship and so forth, but when we really drill down to the biological level if you have the four things listed above you are alive, and will go on living even if it is decidedly unpleasant.

This should give you quite a bit of hope, whatever situation you are facing and whatever you’re scared of! Why? Easy: Chances are no matter what disaster is barreling down on you you’ll still have, or be able to provide, those four things for you and yours.

Skills Matter More than Gear

Now, after discussing all of the survival necessities above the first thing that came to your mind was probably an intense urge to head down to your local Big Box or camping/outdoor store and purchase all of the prerequisite equipment that will allow you to furnish those requirements on demand. This is a workable and reasonable idea, but misguided.

It is misguided because conventional, modern American thinking, and indeed the thinking of most people in civilized Western countries, is that they should buy a gadget, tool or other piece of gear that will do the job for them.

We do indeed live in an Age of Wonders but what matters most when the rubber meets the road is having the skills– knowledge, insight and experience- to provide those survival necessities we just talked about.

Done properly, even if you are dumped into a survival situation with nothing but the clothes on your back you’ll be able to set to work meaningfully improving your surroundings and your chances.

Don’t get me wrong, having the right gear is priceless, but betting the farm on gear and not skills is putting the wagon ahead of the horse.

Also, consider that many skill sets you can learn, or at least become passable with if not truly proficient, are applicable to every kind of survival scenario, literally anyone you can think of. Want examples? How about this:

  • Do you know multiple ways to get in and out of your hometown and accompanying region? Do you know ways out both on foot and by vehicle?
  • Do you know how to reach fallback locations, safe harborage or the homes of friends and relatives without the benefit of in car or handheld navigation systems?
  • Do you know how to signal for help in a variety of conditions and environments? Can you do it using auditory and visual signals? Can you do it with or without appropriate tools?
  • Do you have basic first-aid skills? Do you know CPR? Do you know basic trauma care? More than any other skill, you will have cause to utilize medical skills at some point in the course of your life.
  • Have you discussed a family survival and communication plan with your loved ones? How about your friends? If no one is calling the shots does everyone know what their next step should be in a variety of scenarios?
  • Do you know how to construct, light and maintain a fire to keep warm? How about for cooking?

If all of the above skills look pretty basic, that’s because they are, generally, though you could spend a lifetime truly mastering each of them.

working the field

Happily, even attaining a jack-of-all-trades level of competency in each of them requires far less investment of effort, time and money, and you can learn a lot using a variety of free sources.

Even if you only become an enthusiastic amateur you’ll be far, far more capable than 95% of your fellow citizens in any given emergency.

Once you have acquired the right supplies, the right skills and the right plan, you can officially say you are generally prepared for whatever comes your way. Congratulations!

However, as you will soon learn if you haven’t already, a prepper’s work is never done. Keep reading so that you may learn how to take your new lifestyle of personal readiness to the next level.

Improve Your Position and “Look for Work”

All right, you’re taking care of all of the basics, from identifying the major threat or threats and your area and examining them against the context of your personal situation, living arrangements and more.

It always pays to focus down the biggest and most obvious problems first, but part of being a well-rounded prepper is protecting yourself against a variety of threats, not just the one that is statistically most likely to occur.

Consider the following: If you have a good, strong “Plan A” response to a common and serious occurrence in your area, why not implement a “Plan B” to give yourself a hedge against failure in the primary plan?

If you have three days or a week’s worth of supplies, water, food, medicine and so forth, why not accumulate a couple of weeks’ or even a month’s worth? Why not half a year’s worth if you are getting really serious?

Another thing you should consider implementing into your new lifestyle, once you have taken care of the big picture problems, is a policy of looking for work, both in your life, around your home and your typical routines.

Complacency always paves the way to disaster, and by instituting a habit of always looking for what can be improved you’ll constantly be sharpening your edge against mishaps great and small.

For instance, you might stay on top of best practices for first-aid by subscribing to quarterly magazines, or scheduling periodic refresher training.

You might decide to harden yourself against a mugging or home invasion by varying the route you take to and from work and refusing to stop at your habitual favorite gas station, breakfast joint or whatever.

Some folks despair of the prepping lifestyle because they see it as a job, as a labor that will never end, a Sisyphean task. Maybe it is, but if you remind yourself what you’re doing it for it should make your labors pretty light and easy indeed.


No matter where you begin your journey to personal readiness and self-sufficiency, the only direction you should be going is forward, which is also the only direction you should be looking.

Hard times are coming, and may strike without warning, and it is up to us to get ready, physically, mentally and materially for those hard times.

Remember, failing to constantly improve will only see you end up right back where you started, scared, bewildered and totally unprepared for the rough road ahead.

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1 thought on “How to Prep for the Hard Times Ahead (Before It’s Too Late)”

  1. Have foods that will ‘stick to your ribs”-meats,cheese, eggs, butter. I did an experiment for 3 days totally vegan-no animal products. I stayed hungry, my thinking process was sluggish and was always ‘double checking’ my decisions. I ended the experiment by eating homemade chili with meat,cheese and I felt ‘normal’ again.


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