Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Be careful with that gas pedal...

When I was out driving yesterday, a squirrel ran out in front of my car. I gasped, and, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, hit the gas pedal briefly before hitting the brake pedal. The squirrel got away, but it was close. I was relieved, but also reminded that when I get in a tough situation, sometimes my first reaction is to panic. Panicking is not good. Panicking is what sometimes ends up speeding up what you don't want to happen, or at least makes it closer to happening, (just ask that squirrel) so panicking is not helpful. A natural reaction? Yes. A means to the end that you want? Probably not.

In my last poll, I made a list of various ways that you could prepare, and asked people how they have better prepared themselves for emergency situations in the past year. The results (thanks to everyone who answers my polls!) are as follows:

Increasing my water storage 35%
Increasing my food storage 85%
Rotating my water/food storage so that it would be usable in an emergency 20%
Learning new skills (gardening, canning, etc.) 75%
Increasing my non-food supplies (tents, tools, etc.) 60%
Increasing my "living storage" (livestock, chickens, etc.) 20%
Increasing possible barter items (skills, supplies, etc.) 35%
Increasing defense skills/items 20%
Figuring out a plan to deal with different kinds of emergencies 45%
Decreasing personal/family debt 45%
Helping others with their food storage, thus decreasing likelihood of them needing mine 20%
Other 5% (ahh, the ever-elusive "other"... always leaves me wondering... :)

Quite frankly, I was impressed with how much so many people were doing/have done. Thing is, when I went to write down the results, I looked at how daunting the list could look to someone who has not yet begun to prepare for emergencies. It's still daunting to me. There is just so much to do when you think about what could possibly happen. And I thought of various ways that a person could make his/her situation worse by panicking about what he/she still needed to do, thus hitting the proverbial gas pedal, and making an unfavorable income that much more likely when an emergency situation arose. In my opinion, here are some ways that you should not react when you find out that you have a lot to do to get prepared:

--Don't panic and try to get everything at once--if you run up a huge debt trying to get prepared, you actually might hasten a financial emergency. Be careful with that proverbial gas pedal, and get ready for emergencies in the most financially sound way possible.

--Don't panic and then decide that since there is so much to do, you might as well do nothing at all. What would have happened if I had panicked, hit the gas pedal, and then decided that I wouldn't hit the brake pedal, because all that mattered was my previous action of hitting that gas pedal? Squirrel souffle? I don't actually know, but I do know that everything you put away will be a benefit to you and/or someone else eventually, and you may be able to "squeak by" in an emergency if you have managed to do what you could to be prepared. The importance of "squeaking by"? Hey, I missed the squirrel. Maybe what could have been an emergency will merely be a little scare if you have acted instead of remaining trapped by the thought that you should have started earlier, so now you won't start at all.

--Don't panic and hit the proverbial gas pedal harder, thus basically ensuring an emergency situation. There are so many ways that you can find yourself in an emergency, (including the elephant in the room--the economy) but if you hit the proverbial brakes and sit down and try to figure out your options, you may find that you can find a way to avoid an emergency altogether. Getting panicked about your situation may be a totally normal response, but hopefully that will only be an immediate and (very) short-lived reaction. Ideally, even if you cannot avoid an emergency entirely, you will be able to lessen the impact it has on you if you have done what you can ahead of time.

Just my thoughts on the matter, but in conjunction with my reaction to writing down the last poll's results, ( a little while before I almost made mush of Mr. Squirrel) this week's poll asks what you would most like to improve. Just take it a step at a time, and the more steps that you can take, the more benefits you will have in dealing with emergency situations. I still have a lot to do. And obviously, sometimes I panic (ask the rodent)--but if I use my fear (such as not having enough food to eat) in a positive way and become motivated to consider my options (such as finding out what I can do to store food to avoid that problem) then it will work for me instead of against me.

Yeah, I realize that this analogy of the brakes and the bushy tailed escapee from a horrible demise could be used in different ways. For example, I can almost hear someone thinking about how the squirrel could become food storage, thus solving part of the problem. Whatever makes you more prepared, or helps you realize some of the preparation skills (hunting/meat preservation anyone?) that you already have works for me. I'm just glad you're still reading... :)


Ron said...

Hey, Marie... I've enjoyed catching up on your recent posts.

I like the topic of this post too. When the news is full of nothing but bad, and you see others beginning to panic, it's easy to feel that way too. But having a positive frame of mind and taking comfort in all the options we have around us makes it easier to breathe easy and continue moving in the right direction, instead of feeling paralyzed or rushed.

Thanks for some great posts, I've learned a lot.


Marie said...

Ron--I too think that having a positive attitude can help a lot, even (or especially) when times are hard. Not always easy, but it does help us examine our options, and maybe even increase them...gotta love choices! :)Thanks for your comment!