1) Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop - Situational awareness is more than just paying attention to what is going on around you, though that is an important start. It also means both knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings.
The end goal for situational awareness is correct action. The bridge from simply paying attention to taking correct action is the OODA-Loop. OODA Loop is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. The Loop aspect is that one should be constantly looping through OODA since situations and circumstances change constantly. For a fuller explaination of this skill, please see my article on Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop.
2) Know how to be a "Gray Man" - The gray man knows how to fit in with his city, especially among his neighbors and co-workers. He doesn't stand out as anything particularly special or noticeable. He and his house, vehicle, and family blend in with their community. They look and act like they belong, and don't draw unnecessary or unwanted attention.
3) Know how to not look like a victim - This is somewhat similar to being the gray man, but not exactly. Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes, jewelry & accessories, or driving an expensive car. Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy prey - wear practical clothes and shoes, pay attention to your surroundings, and walk confidently, head up. Don't bury yourself in your smart phone or IPod. Practice situational awareness and the OODA Loop.
4) Self-Defense - This is the "guns and ammo" skill set, but it is so much more than just guns and ammo. Self-defense starts with awareness (see #1 above). The next step is avoiding trouble whenever possible (see #3 above, as well as my recent article Strategies for Surviving a Riot). Also, know and avoid the bad neighborhoods and potential trouble spots in your area.
Hardening your home is also wise. Putting up fences, installing steel security doors, and increasing external lighting (perhaps motion sensitive) are great ideas. Consider a security system or a doorbell with camera and monitor. Another option is a multi-camera CCTV system with DVR recorder, which can be had for under $200 (here's one such system on Amazon).
I do recommend that most folks own and learn how to use guns, and to carry on an everyday basis if you can legally do so (know and follow the laws in your area). Don't just target shoot at the range, you need to take a good self-defense firearms training course. Consult with your local gun dealer - they will be able to guide you to appropriate courses, and make you aware of local gun laws.
5) Protect your privacy. Identity theft is a tens-of-billions of dollars industry in the US alone. And government intrusiveness into our private lives knows no bounds. Learn how not to be a victim. Guard your personal records - driver's license & Social Security numbers, banking & financial information, medical records, etc. - as carefully and diligently as you guard your gold & silver.
Be especially vigilant with your computer. At a minimum, always use a firewall, maintain an up-to-date anti-virus program, and regularly scrub your computer with one or more anti-spyware programs. Only do business online with well-established companies you know and trust. Avoid over-sharing on social media.
Talk to your children about the importance of privacy, and what they should and should not share with their friends, teachers, and other people.
6) Budgeting & Personal Finance - Prepping can be expensive. And even if a complete economic collapse does happen, we need to be able to pay our bills until then. Having the ability to make, and stick to, a budget or spending plan is essential. Personal finance is a skill set too often overlooked, in my opinion.
We all know the basics we should be doing financially. Spend less than you make. Get on a budget or spending plan. Avoid new debt. Pay off old debt. Reduce your expenses. Build some emergency savings. Get adequate insurance with a financially sound company. Plan for future expenses. Know how to invest intelligently. Improve your job skills and make yourself more employable (see #7 below).
All much easier said than done. Here are some articles of mine to help you get started:
- Quick Financial Tips for Preppers (and Everyone Else)
- Financial Tips for Preppers
- Taming the Family Budget
7) Employability - The ability to make a living, working for yourself or someone else, is absolutely key to future survival. To make a living, you have to have the skills needed to convince someone to pay you to work for them directly as an employee of theirs. Or, to convince them to pay you for the goods or services you provide if you are self-employed. The ability to sell will always be important, as will the ability to negotiate.
Having the ability to make, repair, or do something useful is crucial. Learn a trade, in addition to professional skills. Have a back-up career in mind. Have a hobby that could be turned into a business if needed. Soft skills - good work ethic, positive attitude, good communication skills, the ability to get along with co-workers, time-management, etc. - are more important than many people realize. Work on improving them. Take some classes at a local community college. Brush up on your computer skills. Learn bookkeeping/accounting. Learn Spanish for the workplace. The more you know, the more employable you will be.
Check out these articles:
8) Self-Reliance/DIY - 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. You family and friends have enough problems of their own. Don't wait around for the government, your parents or anyone else to help you. Don't sit around whining that life is unfair, or that someone else has it so much better than you. Learn to take care of yourself. Self-reliance is not anti-social or selfish. In fact, building self-reliance may be one of the most generous things you can do, because the reality is that you will be of little help to your family, friends & neighbors if you are the one in need of help.
A major part of building self-reliance is gaining knowledge, learning skills and taking responsibility for your own life. The more you know, the more you are able to do and the more you are actually willing to do for yourself, the better off you will be.
9) Healthy Living - Being healthy is important to our ability to prepare for and handle emergencies. More than that, our healthcare system is an expensive mess, and will only get messier and more expensive in the future. Getting sick can ruin a person financially and destroy even the best-laid plans.
Under the broad skill category of healthy living, I include eating right, getting and staying fit, avoiding getting sick, and knowing first aid and CPR. Also, being aware of alternative medicine to promote wellness and healing will become increasingly important as expenses rise and traditional medical treatment becomes rationed. We also need to address any addictions we have now (smoking, abusing drugs or alcohol, etc.) before any SHTF event.
10) Mobility - Naturally, this includes "bugging out" to a safer location should your present home become too unsafe. Knowing where you are going (your bug-out location, and a back-up location or two) and when you'll go is important. Being ready to go means a packed bug-out or INCH bag. It means knowing what else to grab and stuff into your vehicle if you have time. And it means having a vehicle in good condition when its time to go. An emergency is not the time to have to deal with a flat tire, bad transmission, or worn-out brakes. All this stuff needs to be planned out ahead of time!
But, mobility might also mean being ready to move to a new location in order to follow job opportunities and other considerations. If the economy slowly gets worse (or suddenly falls of a cliff), you might have to move in order to make a living, or just to find a safer place to live. A possible viable alternative is to adopt a gypsy-like lifestyle, emphasizing the ability to escape danger and follow opportunity. Just something else to think about. See my article Gypsy Survival - A Different Prepper Strategy for more on this idea.
Bonus Skill: A Second Language - Like it or not, we are living in a much more global society these days, and borders are becoming a quaint, old-fashioned idea if the progressives get their way. Knowing a second language (or even a third) will become an increasingly valuable skill to have. Being able to communicate in multiple languages will help you in your everyday life, and will even help make you more employable. For most English-speaking Americans, Spanish is the obvious second-language to learn. However, your chosen career field or other circumstances may dictate a different choice for you.
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