Does it seem like every other day there’s a new prediction about how everything is going to end and we’re all doomed? Are you tired of taking action to be prepared, only to see the predictions fail to pass again and again? Here’s how to stay mentally fresh and sort good predictions from bad. Redoubt Analyst is back after a brief hiatus with some strategies to avoid mental fatigue as you prepare for the end.
As a Christian, I absolutely believe there will be a day when the Lord Christ returns in judgment and puts all things right.
As a thinking adult, I’ve read enough book-length detailed explanations as to why certain signs this year indicate that “Christ is really, really coming back this year, for realsies this time, (never mind the last several dozen times these convincing explanations fell flat and didn’t come true)” that my eyes glaze over every time a news feed has some new expert proclaiming how some previously unnoticed prophetic detail means that this time its really going to happen.
As an individual concerned about survival and preparedness, I believe in taking reasonable precautions to avoid being affected by likely disaster scenarios.
As an individual who reads and analyzes many survival and preparedness apocalypse scenarios, how do I avoid becoming just as jaded on warnings of EMP, nuclear war, or economic collapse as I am on warnings about an immanent rapture?
First, on the religious element I relax because no man knows the day and the hour, and either I’ve strived to serve well in my faith or else have not. That will be decided by someone other than me. My moral actions matter most on that front for now.
On the survival element, it’s up to me to be prepared and take care of those depending on me. Letting my group fall into famine or be easy victims for looting and crime will make for a miserable life. The actions I take to be ready for foreseeable disasters are entirely my responsibility and will decide the quality of life I have from the disaster onwards.
So, I approach from a risk-analysis methodology. Detaching my emotions from the fact that a prediction failed allows me to determine how to be better prepared in the future.
Let’s take a recent risk we were all concerned about as a educational example: the 2016 presidential election.
Practically everyone thought Hillary was the anointed one, destined to win and usher in a new era of utopian totalitarianism. While I wasn’t convinced that Hillary was destined to win, I still decided it was prudent to take some precautions just in case I turned out to be wrong.
We recommend taking care of Water, Food, and Energy prior to focusing on Defense. If I had to choose between bullets and beans, I’d rather eat beans than be the kind of guy who uses bullets to take someone else’s beans by force. And if I don’t want someone else taking my beans, that means I need to be good at hiding the fact I have beans until I’ve had the chance to enjoy them. After the collapse, are you going to be a looter, or a prepper?
But with the risk of a Hillary victory and what it would mean for availability of guns and bullets, I broke that recommendation and spent some serious cash on firearms and ammo. Better to buy before prices spiked, which they definitely would after announcement of a Hillary victory. And I reasoned that she might make guns illegal, but not greenhouses. So I better buy guns now and the greenhouse later, even though I’d normally get those in the opposite order.
But Hillary didn’t win. So where does that leave me? Did I waste my cash? Was I foolish? Should I never listen to political predictions again.
First, what happened in the past is unalterable. You can’t go back and change it. So if you think you made a mistake by believing a prediction, learn from it.
Did I make a mistake by worrying that Hillary might win? When I look at how many reasonable folks were certain it would happen, and how serious the consequences would be, it still appears prudent to have been concerned. Risk analysis focuses on odds of the risk happening and severity if the risk happens.
Looking back on the election and using the risk matrix above, I’d have put the likelihood of Hillary-victory at a 3 or 4, and the consequences at a 4 or 5. That’s pretty much in the red high-risk territory, meaning I better deal with it.
Are You Better Off Now?
So I put down a bunch of cash for some serious self-defense hardware. Was that a mistake? Should I regret it? If you’re asking yourself this, ask, “Am I better off now than before I made preparations?”
In my case, I bought what I could afford, and I expected (and still expect) to have enough time to get the greenhouse before it’s a necessity. So, yes, I’m in a better spot now because now my basic weapons platforms are all covered. But if someone had gone heavily in debt to get the firearms and was now looking at losing their house since no money was left for the mortgage, then the answer would probably be, “No, you’re not better off.”
If your preps have made you better off, then they were a good move even if the reasons didn’t pan out.
We normally avoid assessing the typical risk scenarios, because there is a subjective factor. One guy might feel like an apocalypse scenario is intolerable, while another guy might not worry about that particular scenario. What matters is mitigating the risks YOU are worried about, because you’re the one who needs peace of mind.
So let’s take the EMP scenario. In my personal concerns, I’d put the severity at a 4 or 5, depending on how much I’ve prepped for living at a pioneer level when it happens.
When it comes to likelihood, I’d give it a base of 1 – not likely. “But what about all the reports of how our energy grid is vulnerable?” you ask. OK, our vulnerability makes us a desirable target, so I’ll bump it to level 2 likelihood – low. By now, we’re looking at a yellow moderate risk. I should make sure I’ve covered all my red/high risks before dealing with this one, though.
Imagine that tomorrow, news comes out that North Korea is making threats about detonating an EMP bomb over the USA. So let’s bump it up to a likelihood of 3 – likely. This puts me in either a yellow or red square. Maybe I should deal with it now, or maybe their are other, higher profile threats to worry about. I break out the crossbow, map the nearest hunting territories, and confirm that my wood cook stove is in working order. At least if all my electrical gets fried, I will still be able to eat. Kick the severity down a notch for my personal risk profile to “3”. I’m removing my dependence on electricity.
A week later, North Korea tests an EMP device in high altitude over the Pacific. Increase the likelihood to 4. I liquidate all electronic cash assets and exchange them for items of concrete value. Now, if the grid goes down I’ll still have cash to use. Bump my risk severity down to a 2 or 3.
A week later, North Korea declares open war on the USA. Kick likelihood up to 5. If I’d not made any electrical independence preps before now, I’d be in serious trouble.
But this is also why risk profiles are subjective. I’m a man in my prime and in good health. Maybe there’s a guy who’s not yet relocated and has a pacemaker that would be disabled by EMP. Basically, he’s stuck at severity 5 until he can live every hour inside a Faraday cage. He’d better have his risks handled by the time the likelihood hits 3, or else he’s a dead man.
Print down that graphic on risk management, and stick it with any info or plans you’ve printed down for your risk of concern. How likely is the risk? How bad will the consequences be? Reasonable men might disagree on likelihood, based on information available or the weight we give to particular bits of information. But we can all take actions to reduce severity. That’s what prepping is all about.
And any time a prediction turns out wrong, learn from it by asking, “Was I wrong about the likelihood? Why?” and “Am I better off now with the prepping actions I took?”