In prepping, there’s a lot to get done. At times, it can feel a bit overwhelming when you consider all the things that have yet to be done, the skills to be learned and all items to purchase. It can be stressful, so much so that it can lead to burnout. In this article, I want to discuss 5 steps I have found to prevent prepper burnout that have enabled me to stay the course.
We all get into prepping for different reasons and if we started prepping out of a fear of a specific event that never happened, it’s easy to give up. I’ve seen events that have come and gone (for example, Y2K, the Stock Market crash of 07 and the blood moon in 2015) that people assumed were going to be the end of the world and yet here we are. As a result, I’ve known people that have gotten prepper burnout and just moved on because the thing they feared most came and went. This is why I don’t prep for anything specific. I realize there’s things that are very probable to my region like earthquakes but I personally see prepping more of a lifestyle and a mindset of self-sustainability than trying to get ready for any specific event.
In this article, we’ll discuss 5 ways to prevent prepper burnout.
1. Train for a marathon, not a sprint
I tell this to people I’m introducing to prepping all the time. Ease into prepping in a methodical and thought out manner or you’ll burn out quickly. When I first got into prepping I got so overloaded initially with all the gear and supplies I thought I had to have right away. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have mapped things out at the beginning by focusing on getting enough food and water to survive for 3 days and worked slowly up from there instead of thinking I had to go out and buy a bunch of cool tactical gear with molle which has nothing to do with prepping.
Also, don’t get focused on specific events you fear may happen. I had this conversation with a friend awhile back that was planning for a specific event to occur that never did and it was a bit disappointing for him. In the weeks leading up to a calendar event he thought was going to be catastrophic, he began buying lots and lots of dried food and other survival gear he thought would save him and his family. In the end, nothing happened and it was a bit of a let down for him. Instead, I focus on looking for ways to be a well-rounded prepper. I have chosen to focus on getting my finances in order, have a savings account in the event my business were to fail, have food, water, medical and other supplies stored up should there be a catastrophe in my area. I’m in this for the long haul and so I am looking at the long game, not rushing myself for some specific event I think will occur and burning myself out in the process.
If you’re currently getting burnt out with prepping, go back and reevaluate what are your goals for the next month, 3 months, 6 months and move from there. See the big picture and think long-term. This leads us to our next point.
2. Create realistic goals
When setting goals, make sure they’re realistic. By realistic, I mean things that are actively achievable and not just grand aspirations you would like to see happen. For example, instead of saying, “Hey, I’d like to get into gardening”, begin researching it, find out what’s involved, set a budget and give yourself a timeline and date to set up your garden. One of my big plans for the coming year is to do this exact thing: begin gardening. So I went on Youtube the other night, studied videos on growing gardens in Suburban areas and many of the videos all pointed back to the book entitled “All New Square Foot Gardening II” by Mel Bartholomew. So I ordered the book off Amazon and am going to start setting up the garden next week. While I am apprehensive about jumping feet first into something that is totally new for me, I realize that even when setting goals, mistakes will be made but that’s ok. We often get paralyzed to do something new because we’re afraid we’ll mess up or look stupid. Realize that part of setting these goals is that mistakes will be made but learn from them.
Also as you make progress, track it. I know for me psychologically when I achieve a goal, there’s a lot of satisfaction to continue moving forward to the next goal. I get a boost from accomplishing something and I get excited about the next challenge.
3. Help others in prepping
Another way I have found that really helps prevent burn out is to teach others what you know. I’ve met various preppers in my area and some are just starting out and I am more than glad to help teach them what I have learned. Even the smallest amount of effort that I spend teaching them can be a motivation to help keep me moving forward.
I recently attended a prepper meetup meeting in my area and I met a guy new to the area. As we chatted, I shared with him ranges in our area to go shooting. Turns out he had absolutely no firearm experience and I was fresh off a 3-day firearms training trip and so I was able to take him to the range and teach him what I learned. Within a short period of time, he was handling the firearms safely and proficiently with confidence. Now he’s beginning to actively work on his marksmanship skills.
One of the things that has impressed me about local preppers in my area is that they’re very willing and glad to help others learn. Do the same for others that you may meet that are new to prepping. And here’s the catch, you don’t have to know everything in order to teach someone else. If all you know is the basics, then teach that. If you’re only 5 months ahead of someone else that is new to prepping, then you have 5 months worth of knowledge and skills to impart to them. Find ways to help others that you have vetted out for prepping and not only will it help you stay motivated, you can build allies in the process.
4. Take time to relax and enjoy life
Take time to step back and chill out a little. Constantly being under stress can burn you out in any situation, especially when it comes to prepping and the fear of some imminent threat looming over you. I went through a really hard season with work at the beginning of the year where we were overloaded with projects. As a result, we had 4 months of non-stop stress. It was during this time that I got severely burnt out and wanted to quit what I was doing altogether. I have found that this can happen in any area of life, especially when it comes to prepping. We can get so focused on obtaining gear and skills, feel overloaded and end up getting burnt out.
Step back for a moment and don’t forget to enjoy the present life you have. This is a very common complaint I hear in the comments section of my Youtube channel when someone stumbles across one of my videos and is not a prepper: “Why are all you people so paranoid and scared?” I don’t often respond to these criticisms as I don’t like getting into debates with people in the comment section, but the reality is that I do enjoy life quite a lot. I plan on growing old and watching my kids and grandkids grow up as well. To me this is so important, so much so that I know that being prepared for the unexpected will allow me to protect my life and the lives of my family no matter what life throws my way.
5. Look at prepping as a lifestyle
Prepping is not a destination but rather a journey. I had this same epiphany years ago with finances when I started reading Dave Ramsey’s book, Financial Peace. His book, which I’ll provide a link to in the description section below, allowed me to completely rethink finances. For many years I had no discipline with money and would spend it as soon as I made it. Now I do the exact opposite: when I make it I save it to invest later. I want to get out of the rat race and I see money as a tool to get me there. How I save and spend money is now a lifestyle, it’s a mentality that has freed me up from the shackles of debt.
Prepping is the same way for me. While I set realistic goals for skills I’m trying to learn or gear I’m trying to obtain, it’s no longer an issue of trying to race to some final destination but it’s a mindset of always being prepared. One of my favorite activities growing up was Boy Scouts which I think was one of the big reasons I gravitated toward prepping. The Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”. In life, I look at prepping as something I blend into my daily life. It’s a way of thinking…of being prepared for the probable things I might face. As in point #1 mentioned earlier, I’m not concerned per se with a specific event but rather the possible things life could throw at me each day along with the other myriad of possible challenges that I might face one day. I see life not through the lens of paranoia but rather being prepared. Shifting to this mindset of being prepared along with a strong desire to be self-reliant, prepping is no longer a burden.
When I first started getting serious about prepping, I would get stressed out a lot and I nearly got completely burnt out at the beginning. Using these steps above, I’ve been able to change my view to a long term journey which has enabled me to stay the course and prevent getting burnt out.
If you have any tips that have helped you, please share in the comment section below as feedback from the community always helps me learn a lot.