Remember just a year ago when everyone was pumped about an exciting new decade? It was 2020 and just the sound of it was futuristic and hopeful.
“This is going to be my year!” people said.
Unfortunately, I don’t think 2020 was anybody’s year unless your last name starts with B and rhymes with Sneez-os. While you’ll see lots of folks out there blithely saying, “Thank goodness 2020 is over!” I’ve got to say, 2021 isn’t looking great either.
With the economic disaster that is sweeping the country, more lockdown mandates, a new government that is likely to crack down even more, rapidly approved vaccinations we’ll be “strongly encouraged” to receive, and who knows what else in store, if you are a New Year’s resolution type, it’s important to keep these things in mind and set more realistic goals for the year ahead.
A lot of the old tips for prepping and stockpiling are no longer really workable for many of us. This is true for a multitude of reasons – money is tight, supplies are less abundant and more expensive, and it’s more difficult to access businesses and in-person education.
That has a lot of people feeling overwhelmed and even helpless. My inbox is filled with messages from those who want to prepare but feel like there’s just no hope.
I’m here to tell you that there is hope. We may be down right now, but we aren’t out. We’re only truly defeated if our attitude allows us to stay in that state of mind. When you think you’ve irrevocably lost, you stop looking for wins. And goes against what prepping is all about. I’ve always said that prepping is the ultimate act of optimism. This is a time that will test our resilience and show us what we’re really made of. (Spoiler – we’re made of strong stuff.)
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The clock isn’t going to strike midnight leaving us all to sigh in relief and say, “Thank goodness! It’s finally over! GoodBYE 2020!” This isn’t Cinderalla and there are no fairy godmothers or spells to be lifted. 2021 is going to be a challenge in much of the same way 2020 was and probably in ways we haven’t even imagined yet. (I mean, who really expected murder hornets and cannibalistic monkeys?)
But none of this means that you can’t keep prepping in the year ahead. It just means you may need to be more strategic and prepare in different ways. So do you want to become more prepared in 2021? Are you with me?
Here are some realistic goals you can set for the year ahead.
Become more fit.
Fitness doesn’t have to mean a gym membership or exercise class. In fact, those are both darned near impossible these days. However, there are still ways you can work on your fitness levels that will pay off big if you find yourself in a survival situation.
Walking: This is my favorite exercise by far and one I indulge in every single day. It’s accessible to almost everyone and you don’t have to buy any fancy equipment. Here are some tips to help you start a walking program. Don’t want to walk because it’s cold weather or rainy? What kind of weather do you expect when you bug out? Chances are, it will be less than ideal. Here are some of the benefits of training in bad weather.
Add some weight: If you already walk a lot or if you need an additional challenge, add a loaded backpack to your daily stroll. You can just keep on adding weight to help yourself become stronger and more fit.
Bodyweight exercises: Check out YouTube to find exercises you can do at home using only your own body weight for resistance.
Yoga: Also visit YouTube to find yoga videos. A friend of mine swears by a very inexpensive program called DDPYoga, which has workouts for everyone, including those who are bedridden or in a wheelchair.
Calisthenics: Go old-school and do some calisthenics like push-ups, jumping jacks, and lunges.
It really doesn’t matter what form of exercise you choose to do – just do something on a regular basis and continue to push yourself to become more fit.
The sky is really the limit when it comes to learning skills. Many of us find we have a lot more time at home now. Why not put that to good use learning skills that will serve you well in both everyday life and survival situations. YouTube and online courses can be great ways to add to your skillset.
Here are a few areas in which you could find things you might want to learn:
Those are just a few ideas to get you started – basically, any skill that helps you defend yourself, produce something, communicate, or preserve something is worth learning.
I’ve written time and time again about how we’ve become a nation of consumers instead of a nation of producers. If that hasn’t convinced you, then the empty shelves in stores across the country should reinforce the fact that we are far better off when we can produce the things we require to meet our needs.
Many of these things will cross over with the skills mentioned above. Being able to produce the food you eat from farm to pantry to table is more important than ever. Being able to acquire our food through hunting or foraging can help those who may not have the space or the security to grow their own.
Look at the things that you use every day and think about what you can produce yourself. Look at those things and think about how you could repair the items you use now if they were to break. Do you need any special spare parts or tools? If so, order them now because people are waiting months for certain automotive and computer parts. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg if we continue on our current path.
Not only can producing directly help your family, but it can also put you in a position to barter with others who may be able to produce things you cannot.
Focus on your small circle.
It’s easy to be focused on the major events in the news, like the election, the pandemic, what’s happening in the UK, the vaccine, or episodes of civil unrest. I believe it’s extremely important for preppers to keep up with current events. Those of us who suspected early on that there was going to be a lockdown were able to get our supplies well before the rest of the public realized that bad things were headed our way and stripped the shelves bare. But when there’s such a barrage of bad news coming at you constantly it can be easy to lose your way and get lost in the big picture.
While we want to know what’s going on in the world, we also need to recognize the things we can act upon and control and the things we can’t. We need, as Selco advises so often, to focus on our small circles as things become more difficult. We can teach our family members skills, we can prepare a garden, we can increase the security of our homes, and we can tighten our bonds with our communities, but we can’t necessarily change government mandates or makeover the economy.
When things feel too big to handle, go small and you will always find some action that you can take.
Look for happiness.
This may sound out of place, especially right now when times seem so very dark. But there is always light. There’s always a flower, a snowflake, the laugh of a child, the voice of the person you love, or the dog curled up at your feet. There’s a book you haven’t yet gotten to read or an old favorite you can enjoy again.
Some days it may be harder to find those moments of happiness than others and that’s perfectly normal in times like these. This is a season of introspection and of deciding what – and who – really matters in our lives.
Many writers this year, myself included, have written that things will never be the same as they were before the Covid pandemic was used to limit our worlds. I know that my life changed dramatically and did not go in the direction I had planned. I know the same is true for family members and people I love. It’s enough to make you feel like we have nothing ahead but despair. It’s a fact that mental health issues have been on the uptick as the lockdowns keep us isolated from friends, family, and humanity in general.
But there is always a glimmer of hope and no matter what, I sincerely believe that the human spirit will prevail. We will always find reasons to laugh (hey, dark humor is still humor, we will find people we love and care for if we are willing to be open to that, and we can always find beauty in the mundane if we know how to seek it.
Despite the distance this year has put between many of us and the people we love, at least the internet, for all its flaws, helps us to keep in touch and stay just a little bit closer to them. In fact, a neighbor here told me that her family did a Zoom for Christmas and because it was all online, even though they could not be together in person, they got to see cousins and relatives from far away that they hadn’t seen in many years. I believe there’s some grace to be found in that.
So make one of your goals to seek happiness anywhere you can find it. Because your spirit matters just as much as your physical preparations do. Being with the ones you care for is important, no matter how you do it. Finding a reason to smile will always make any situation more tolerable.