by Todd Walker
You want to improve your preps.
I know this because you’re reading Survival Sherpa. Our motto here is, “Helping each other on the climb to self-reliance and preparedness…the Survival Sherpa way…One step at a time.”
I also realize that you are afraid of change. You’d like things to stay the same. But you also feel the tsunami coming and want to head to high ground. You’re worried that all the boats will sink. You don’t have enough time, energy, and resources to get there.
Here a truth that set me free. Preparedness is a journey, not a destination. You’ll never arrive! But what if you only had to change one thing to be better prepared, you’d think I was crazy, right?
Headlines often promise more than they deliver. But this one simple step really will increase your level of preparedness, self-sufficiency, and resilience.
What’s the one step?
What’s Kaizen? Breaking the word down, “kai” means change/make better, “zen” means good. Apply the word to prepping and it means “continuous improvement.”
Kaizen was practiced here in the U.S. during the great depression and later to help rebuild Japan after WW II. Once it took root, it helped this war-torn country bounce back and become a dominate economic power. I own one of their success stories – a Toyota Forerunner. It just turned over 235,000 miles. I’d say it’s middle-aged now, thanks to kaizen – and regular maintenance.
Preparing for the coming chaos may look like a cooked elephant sitting on your table, so add a little Prepping Kaizen to help clean your plate.
That’s the purpose of this article – to help you bounce back from whatever gets thrown at you… without being overwhelmed. If you’re new to prepping, you may feel like throwing your hands up in despair. You’ve managed to click away from a well-meaning, self-proclaimed expert prepper blog extolling you to get ready for the zombie apocalypse. Anxiety grips your mind and emotions.
“You mean I’ve got to have 10,000 thousands rounds of ammo, one years worth of food storage, and live off grid – by next month!?!”
None of these are bad if that’s you goal. But for those newly initiated to preparedness, this is a blueprint for burnout.
This is where Prepper Kaizen comes in handy.
You see, you don’t need to have to have it all. You never will anyway. But what you do need is the ability to see the whole picture and take the small, simple steps, master these, and look back at how much you’ve improved and accomplished. Those weekly Buy-One-Get-One deals at the grocery store start to accumulate. You notice that your pantry mysteriously grew from a three-day supply to a three-week supply.
The key to lasting success is lasting.
Micro manage your preps
Prepping Kaizen is a strategy that takes your focus off the size of the tsunami and helps you do the little stuff (micro) to get you to safety. This approach is like taking your first step as an infant.
You learned locomotion one step at a time. You didn’t crawl up on the sofa arm and run sprints in diapers. You mastered walking first.
Most of you aren’t building a multi-million dollar corporation. But you can benefit from the kaizen model that rebuilt Japan.
Here’s how to get your Prepping Kaizen on.
- Step 1: Start
Sometimes a tiny step is all it takes to build momentum and confidence for your journey. If all you see is the approaching tsunami, you’ll be tempted to just bend over and kiss it all good-bye.
Stacy (new to prepping) drives home this point in her recent comment to me, “I feel more like I’m in a whirlpool!” She’s not alone.
She and her husband have made the first step on their journey to self-reliance. They started with emergency water containers. Now she’s working on food storage. Her husband wants to know how to get 6 months of food storage. Simple answer: One bite at a time. Start buying extras of what you already eat. Before long, you’ll need to find creative ways to stash all this food – under beds, furniture, and other unlikely pantry spaces.
- Step 2: Stick to it
Now that you’ve taken the first step, pick an area you feel is most important and break it down into smaller steps. This is a very personalized process. Priorities are dependent on your individual scenario. If you live on property with fresh water springs, water storage won’t be as important to you as the family living in an arid climate.
With that being said, pick one area to improve and focus your energy and resources for one month on that priority prep. If it’s food storage, take conscious steps each week to improve this area. Having spent a month dedicated to the process of storing food, the remaining 11 months will become routine. You fix the kinks and streamline the process. This discipline will easily transfer to your next area of focus.
- Step 3: Pick the low hanging fruit
This is how smart preppers apply Prepping Kaizen. Smart people pick the easy stuff first. The stuff that’s free, inexpensive, or readily available.
- Buy an extra case of bottled water for 4 bucks
- Do some bodyweight exercises – no expensive gym membership needed
- Buy a 50 cent box of table salt
- Read free ebooks on prepping and survival – knowledge weighs nothing
- Never pass on Buy-One-Get-One deals
- Save your pocket change in a jar to buy more preps – don’t trade in your nickels though
- Become a yard sale junkie – chew on the hay and spit out the sticks.
Easy pickins give you immediate, tangible results. The foggy path to preparedness begins to clear and you grow more confident. So does your knowledge and skills. Build off this new-found confidence and pick the next area of improvement. How hard can it be?
- Step 4: Ask why with an axe in your hand
Mistakes are not a sign to quit. They’re markers of what not to repeat. Even if you’ve been prepping for years, you make mistakes – sometimes stupid ones. I’ve made my share. Mistakes improve the process if we ask… why, why, why, why, why.
Part of kaizen is asking 5 whys. There is always one root cause to every problem. Some issues won’t take 5 whys. Other may take more. Instead of dealing with the symptom, the 5 why method digs until you find the root. This forces you to stop the hurried Do-Do cycle and fix the real problem.
Try this. You notice the bottom of your tomatoes are developing brown, rotting spots on their bottoms:
- Identify the problem. That’s easy. The spots are visible. You’re green-thumbed neighbor tells you it’s blossom end rot.
- Identify the cause by asking, ‘why did this happen?’ Brainstorm all the possible causes.
- Write it down on paper. Insufficient calcium, not enough water, too much water, soil PH, etc.
- Ask why for each of the causes you’ve just identified. Ask 5 times per possible cause.
- Once you’ve identified the root cause – use your axe.
Was it the soil, minerals, or watering that’s destroying your fruit? Whatever it is, this process will help you lay an axe on the root cause. Armed with this knowledge and experience, you’ll make continual improvements to bear more fruit next growing season.
- Step 5: Take Curly’s advice
If you’ve made it this far, you want to be better prepared. Keep in mind that you don’t have to ‘get there’ immediately. Making sweeping changes to your lifestyle is not a prerequisite to being more resilient, self-sufficient, or whatever it’s called these days.
Remember the scene from the movie City Slickers when Curly (Jack Palance) gives Mitch (Billy Crystal) his simple version of the meaning of life?
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
Curly: This [as he holds up one finger]
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But what is the ‘one thing?’
Curly: That’s what you have to find out. (smiles)
Figuring out your one thing is up to you. I don’t assume to know what you need. I’ll leave that to a fictitious cowboy. Curly wisdom maybe right in the movie…
But, if you want to be better prepared to face uncertain times, you have to do more than one thing. Lots of things actually – without freaking out.
You have to take that first step. Then another, and another, and another.
Maybe you’ve already gotten your fundamental preps in order. Congrats! Now take the next step and apply Prepping Kaizen through out your journey. You’ll notice steady improvement in quality and quantity over time.
You’ll be more prepared tomorrow than you are today.
Keep doing the stuff – one step at a time,
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- The Vince Lombardi Guide to Becoming an All-Pro Prepper (survivalsherpa.wordpress.com)