To be self-reliant, we must gain knowledge, learn skills, and take responsibility for ourselves and our families. The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now.
Develop a self-reliance mindset.
First and foremost, you MUST develop a self-reliance mindset. This entails taking responsibility for your own life, not waiting for others to do it for you. Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them? That is called "learned helplessness." Don't be like them. Instead, develop "learned self-reliance."
Developing Self-Reliance (1951)
Take responsibility for your own life and success. Your company isn’t going to protect you. The government is going to take care of you. And your family and friends have enough problems of their own.
Taking responsibility means doing what needs to be done, not just what is fun or what you want to do. Taking responsibility means not waiting around for others to do it for you. Taking responsibility means not assuming if you don’t do it then someone else will. Be proactive.
If you know your company or industry is struggling, don’t wait for them to “downsize” you before you start looking for work. Get moving - polish up your résumé now, start networking and making contacts & inquires, before you lose your job.
If your entire industry is struggling, don’t wait for it to implode. Start thinking about what new industry you might want to move to, and start learning the new skills you will need and making contacts in that industry. Consider developing a side-business now, so that you will at least have that to fall back on. You may even be able to turn it into a full-time career.
On the job, the more knowledge and skills you have the less likely you are to be let go in “cost saving” efforts. And if you are let go, the more knowledge and skills you have the quicker you will be able to find new work. Don’t just limit yourself to the skills needed for your current job. Learn other skills as well. Learn bookkeeping/accounting. Develop computer skills. Learn a foreign language (particularly if your company/industry does a lot of business with non-English speakers). Learn how to sell, even if that's not your current job.
In your personal life, learn how to manage your finances. Learn how to live on a budget. Develop the skills of a smart consumer. This means reducing your expenses, and living within your means (a budget or spending plan is an excellent tool for achieving this goal). Setting aside an ample emergency fund is also very important. Pay off your credit cards and consumer loan debt. Avoid new debt. (My article, Finances - Get Back to Basics, may be of interest.)
Learn how to raise and preserve some of your own food. Get into homesteading. Learn how to do the routine maintenance on your car. Learn the basics of home maintenance. Develop Do-It-Yourself skills. Accumulate a good tool kit. Learn to sew. Learn how to eat healthy and how to take care of your health. Learn first aid & CPR. There is a multitude of everyday skills that you can learn in order to be more self-reliant.
Stay informed of current affairs. Pay attention to the news. News aggregation websites, like Drudge Report, Liberty Mill, and Prepper Website, are worth checking out at least daily. Reading your state or local newspaper (or at least visiting their websites) will help you keep up with news and events closer to you. Blue Force Tracker is a great website for national security and military news, as well as veterens' issues.
Understand how the world really works. Learn real history and economics, not the biased indoctrination they feed you in public schools. For a list of good history books, see my Real History Book list. Also, check out the #HistoryHub portion of this website (click tab at top of this webpage). For a list of good sources for learning economics, see my article Economic Education Resources.
John McCann, in his book, Practical Self-Reliance - Reducing Your Dependency On Others, gives a great definition of self-reliance, and how it differs from self-sufficiency:
In my opinion, self-reliance is being able to do as much as we can without outside assistance.... On the other hand, self-sufficiency is the ability to maintain oneself without outside aid, being able to provide for all of one's needs. Unfortunately, in today's world, we must live with a dependence or inter-dependence on others. In the pioneer days people could not produce everything they needed and had to rely on others for supplies they could not furnish. Even mountain men went to rendezvous in order to sell their furs and purchase needed supplies. They were both very self-reliant, but not self-sufficient.