USE CREATIVITY TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
Now is a good time to take a moment to reflect on the preps we had envisioned ourselves getting done by the end of last year. For most of us, what we envisioned at the beginning of the year is not quite a carbon copy of the tasks we actually completed. But don’t sweat it—at least you are thinking about things you can and should do to keep your family safe and give them every advantage when things get real and lives are at risk. There are plenty of valid reasons that plan and practice don’t always match up. Anyone who has been prepping for more than a day can tell you that there really is no end to the things you can do to improve your preparedness posture. Often, one prep leads you to another that wasn’t on the original plan. It can be an exhausting cycle if you let yourself become obsessed with expanding the plan and you don’t learn ways to incorporate practicing your preps into your leisure time and recreational and other activities. Here’s a trick I have had success with. One of the preps I make sure to do twice a year is to maintain my land navigation and direction-finding skill sets, because I realize that these are among what I refer to as “use it or lose it” skills. This means they are perishable and can be easily lost if you do not practice them on a somewhat regular basis. One of my fundamental preps for myself and my family is to be able to put as much distance between myself and “ground zero” of an event that meets my criteria for bugging out—possibly forever. I realize that to be able to accomplish this successfully, our land navigation skills and direction-finding abilities always have to be up to par. I never minded throwing on my ruck, grabbing my 1:50,000 map, pencil, protractor and lensatic compass for a day or two of point-hopping around the woods. It lets me become one with the sights, smells and feels of the forest. However, getting my wife and kids to show the same level of enthusiasm is an entirely different story. I know they need these skills in case I am not around to lead them, but I also know that the only way I am going to be able to get them to learn these skills is for me to get them to want to learn enough to be able to quickly and accurately guide themselves to safety. In the past, I turned this practice into a treasure hunt. When the children were younger, it was kept simple and localized; but, as they grew, so did the challenges. We would cache gift cards or “get-out-of-chores-free” cards in multiple locations and across varied terrain in urban, rural and backwoods settings, depending on how much time we had to prepare. It also helped that everyone had to create and prepare a “navigation lane,” and no one got the points on their own lane as their navigation exercise. Different points also came with different navigational methods: One point might be a terrain association with a map only, while another might be dead reckoning, via which you have to follow a single distance and direction plan to locate your point. I’m happy to say that this worked well for us. In the end, your imagination is really the only thing that limits how you incorporate planning, learning and practicing into being prepared for all the contingencies in your plan. Be creative in your approach so that if the unthinkable were to happen, you will know in your heart that you did everything you possibly could to prepare yourself and your loved ones for any situation life might someday throw in your path. Imagine how much more of your list you’ll complete next year.