When it comes to prepping, there is one tool that trumps all others. This tool is, without a doubt, the most critical to your survival – the survival mindset. Your thought process and commitment to survival are essential to getting through a bad day. The need to hone your mindset to a razor sharp edge cannot be overstated. But what does a mindset consist of? Let’s take a quick look at a few concepts that make up your survival mindset.

The very first key to prepping is the awareness and understanding that things aren’t stable, bad stuff happens, and you can’t rely on someone to come rescue you – you have to be ready to take care of yourself. To be prepared, your eyes have to be open and you have to be able to make a sober assessment of your situation and inherent dangers. Your survival mindset, in part, depends on what you’re preparing to face, how you view the situations you’ll face, and how you chose to prepare for – and ultimately deal with – the disasters that haunt you.
But perspective still isn’t enough. I know plenty of people who know something could go wrong, but they choose – willingly decide – to bury their heads in the sand and close their eyes to it. They tell me that “if something happens, I just want to die. I don’t want to be around for it.” Unfortunately that becomes a self-fulfilling destiny. If you aren’t mentally tough and determined to survive – you won’t.
Clearly, perceiving a threat may be a good start, it is not sufficient.

Once you come to understand that something could happen, you need to come up with a plan to mitigate the effects of that event and prepare to prosper. (Man, does prepping have a lot of ‘p’s associated with it! We could have been named P15!)
A well prepared threat assessment is the ‘why’ that influence ‘what, when, and how’ we prepare. How we answer these questions defines – or at least outlines – our plan. And solid planning starts with a list of all the possible bogeymen under the bed. Write down every potential scenario you can come up with. Take and rank them all on a scale of ‘Easier to Deal With’ to ‘Very Bad Day’. Then rewrite the list by ‘Most likely’ to ‘Least likely’. Take note of the trends you see. Are some threats both very likely and easier to deal with, such as a severe storm? Do others seem less likely, but make for a much tougher road, like a nuclear war? Now you should be able to see the threat in both width and depth. You have just set the parameters of your potential nightmare.
The next step is to take that threat “box” you just created and fill it with stuff. Look at each threat, ranked by likelihood and decide what you would need to get through that event. What do you need to handle a tornado that would be different from an EMP? Which supplies become critical in which scenario?
You should find that things like short term natural disasters – which are more likely – are also more manageable and require less preps. However something less likely – say an apocalyptic attack of zombie squirrels – are conversely more challenging and need a lot more stuff – which is the next key to prepping.

Purchase Provisions
Go buy the things you need. Make it a priority. Have it on hand when you need it, and replace it as soon as possible if you dip into your stash. If you can drop a chunk of change and buy a ton of gear at once – great! If not, start with first things first and do something to begin your plan. Either way, be consistent. You can never have everything you need – there will ALWAYS be you ‘need’ – but you can be ahead of the curve. Anything you do to improve your odds of successfully dealing with a bad day puts you ahead of most people.
Due diligence is important here. Research your purchases. Decide where you can ‘go cheap’ and where you need to invest for good gear. Which items do you need redundancy on (hint: all of them!), and what can you get by with only one (two is one and one is none…). Read the reviews and talk to people who know and use the gear before you buy it. Just so happens I know a couple guys….

Shameless plug aside, having what you need when you need it is a significant part of prepping. However, while having stuff is critical it is still only part of the equation. I’ve written about this before, but if you don’t know how to use it, and if you aren’t proficient, you may as well not have it at all. I used to have terrible nightmares about perps closing fast, and suddenly I’ve got a 100lb trigger pull and sights that were so far off I had to Kentucky windage a half a football field to hit my target. My subconscious was screaming that I needed more trigger time to stay sharp. I spent some time at the range, and the dreams stopped.
Do you have medical gear you aren’t familiar with? Get training! Take a class, read a book, watch a video – learn how to use what you have, and then practice, practice, practice. A word of warning though: practice does NOT make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect. If you practice it incorrectly, you have only learned the wrong way to do it, nothing more. Get good training so you have confidence in your gear and your skills.
When was the last time you lit a fire with one match – and no accelerant? How about built a shelter, set a snare, skinned a rabbit, cooked over an open fire, grew a garden, programmed your radio, or…..the list goes on. And despite years of training, even the most devoted prepper would be hard pressed to handle everything themselves. Which is the last key – for this article anyway:

Once you have acquired the foundations of your preps, find people you can trust and get to work executing your plan. Don’t bother trying to build a group or start a community unless you have your own house in order. People who start groups without having supplies tend to be moochers who want others to provide for them while they provide the “leadership”. And along with that, don’t go recruiting your favorite people because they’re fun to sit around the campfire with. They need to have their preps squared away so they can pull their own weight. While some may disagree, a great skill set is NOT an adequate tradeoff for having their own food, medical supplies, clothing, and firearms.
To balance that thought, there’s more to quality of life than the stuff you have. Your team needs to develop a foundation to build from. Figure out why you’re prepping (see key #1 above) and build your group with likeminded people. This is another topic I’ve covered before, but it can’t be stressed enough: you can’t do it all yourself, and the people you surround yourself with must share certain perspectives to effectively work together. Figure out what matters most to you, then search long and hard to pull together the right friends and family to realize your collective vision.

This prepping thing has many challenging aspects to it, and can be overwhelming at times. Hopefully these 5 keys will help you organize your journey, whether you’re just starting or are miles down the road already. As always, P5 preparedness is here to help in any way we can!