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The question “what are you prepping for” has just about been worn out. There is no shortage of threats in our world to be concerned about and to take steps to prepare for. Take your pick. My pet threat is economic collapse. Yours might be a nationwide power grid failure or terrorists with suitcase bombs attacking several American cities simultaneously. All of these are valid threats. I’ve joined the growing rank of people who have decided to not be caught by surprise, but rather to be as well prepared as possible if any such disaster should strike. Since you’re reading this, you’re probably in that camp, too.

But one question that doesn’t get asked very often is whether the thing that you’re prepping for is an event or a process. What do I mean by that? And why would it matter?

SHTF Event

An event would be a sudden occurrence, like an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault that causes a significant part of California to go bye-bye. Or an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), either solar or nuclear, that wipes out all of our electronics. Everything is fine one moment, then in an instant it’s not.

What would be the results of an SHTF event? There would be a significant loss of lives, followed by widespread shock and panic. Supplies and services would be disrupted for a long time, perhaps for a very long time. Panic buying would empty store shelves in a matter of a few days. Multitudes would be unemployed. No amount of government intervention would make a dent in the level of catastrophe affecting our world. Virtually every aspect of our lives would change from anything we had ever known before. Ready or not, everyone would be thrust into full-scale survival mode.

Spices02If an SHTF event occurs, you’re stuck with what you have. If you don’t already have it, you’re not going to be able to get it. If you’ve planned to buy a good multi-fuel rocket stove, you’re too late. You won’t be able to get one anywhere now. Still working towards acquiring a top-notch first aid kit? Kiss that plan goodbye. You’ve probably got a good supply of rice and beans and wheat on hand, but have you also stocked the spices and seasonings that you’ll need to make it taste good? That ship has sailed.

There are a lot of SHTF event scenarios that have a chance of occurring in our lifetime. That’s why we prep. But the bottom line for an SHTF event is that prepping time is over and implementation time has begun. If you don’t already have it when an SHTF event occurs, you’re not likely to ever get it from that point on. The key to making it through an SHTF event is to already have the things you want and need.

SHTF Process

It’s possible that the world won’t go out with a bang (event) so much as a whimper (process). A global financial collapse may have begun 15 years ago with the tech bubble and crash of 2000. While it appears that our economy plateaus or even rallies for a short time since then, it seems to me like we’ve been on a trajectory of steady economic decline ever since 2000. The years 2001 and 2008 saw the greatest losses in stock market history. Much has been written about this 7-year cycle, with warnings of a bigger crash to come in 2015.

An SHTF process wouldn’t come about suddenly like an event would. Instead, it would take years or decades to play out — a slow, steady decline. Money gets tighter gradually. There may be a series of bubbles that burst, but we ride them out. Businesses adapt by running “leaner,” squeezing more productivity out of fewer employees. Families adjust by taking fewer vacations. Many people are out of work, and those who have jobs have been cut to part-time so employers don’t have to pay for the benefits that full-time workers get. First and second-world countries start looking more and more like third-world countries. We find ourselves like a frog in a beaker of water on a bunsen burner. The heat gets turned up so gradually that the frog doesn’t react to the changes — and then he finds himself thoroughly cooked.

Unlike an event, an SHTF process could give you years and years of opportunity to stockpile the things you want and need. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if (when) you find yourself out of work, instead of adding to your supplies, you start tapping into your preps to get by until the next job comes along. But it doesn’t. And what you can’t eat you sell in order to get money to meet your family’s needs.

An SHTF process is not a pretty picture. Slow death never is. Yes, you are better equipped to deal with the problem than those who don’t prep, but it just delays the inevitable.

So what is the key to surviving an SHTF process? Sustainability. You will need self-reliance skills, the kind of mojo that the pioneers had 150 years ago. Do you know how to grow and preserve food? Raise animals? Use and repair tools? Prepping isn’t just about storing stuff. The best preppers would say that it isn’t even primarily about stuff. It’s about skills.

Which one will it be?

Of course, your guess is as good as mine. Sandy and I lean toward process but we are strongly aware that it could be an event and that event could occur tomorrow. We don’t let that worry us. Rather, we do what we can while trusting the Lord for what we can’t. At the beginning of each year we look at where we are, re-consider where we want to be and set priorities for the year. Yep, that’s what we’ll be doing in the coming week.

Comment below or on Facebook to let us know whether you think SHTF will be an event or a process.

Whatever your SHTF scenario, make the most of your time by getting (right now) the top priority items that you need to ride it out, and continually work on building the skill sets that you will need to sustain yourself and your loved ones through tough times ahead. You’ll find links to our favorite suppliers in the sidebars. (Yes, we make a small commission from the sales that are generated from this site. Thanks for supporting TheApproachingDayPrepper.com.)

I apologize for this posting being such a buzz kill. I hope you all have an exceedingly blessed, healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year, and that next year finds you in a better place than you are right now.

11 Responses to SHTF: A Process or an Event?

  • Sheereen says:

    I really enjoy your level headed and thorough posts. Every one I have ever read gives me something new to think about. Keep up the good work.

    • Stef — So good to hear from you again. Thx for the nice remarks. I was a bit concerned about this one because there was so litte (if anything at all) that was positive and hopeful in it. But I decided that it was important to get across the message that we need supplies (sooner rather than later) and we need to continually be working on our skills. Thx again for writing. We appreciate you.

  • Dennis says:

    Thanks for the very appropriate article. I believe that if we adequately prepare via process, the the event will be covered as well. Many seem to be caught up in preparing for an event with stored food, for example, and then fail to prepare long term with growing and storing food.

    • Dennis — Thank you for the generous comments. I just discovered your stunningly good website through the address in your comment. I hope all of our readers visit your site (http://www.HomesteadShepherd.com) to learn from your considerable experience. When I finally get around to creating a blogroll for TADPrepper, your site will most definitely be included. God bless you, my friend. Thanks for writing.

  • Very Timely Article, right where my thinking is going at this time. I’m hopeful that “they” can hold it together for another 4 years or so, and I can convert my 401A funds to solid items that will carry over through SHTF, process or event. Right now, a process is preferable but an event may allow some “fixes” to come about.

    I got here through the link at rethinksurvival.com

    • Rob — Good luck with that 401A thing. I’d bet that a lot of us are in the same boat. How long is our money going to be worth the paper it’s printed on? Will things hold on long enough to let us buy stuff before the currency tanks? Prepping isn’t for sissies! Thanks for writing. Glad to have you aboard.

  • Jay says:

    This is one of the better articles I have read on this topic in a while and a very good description of event vs. process. I think the “frog in a beaker” analogy was a very good illustration of the point. While most seem to look at the event scenario, it is good to bring up the slow, grinding halt type process that could be just as likely.

    • Jay — Thanks for weighing in. I think a lot of people tend to get stuck at looking at a problem one way and never see it from another perspective. I don’t pretend to know how things are going to go down, but I’d like to have some kind of game plan when it starts. I hope this article helped.

  • Larry Kool says:

    Whether it is a process or and event, does it really matter? The idea that a process just delays the inevitable is really a statement about our entire existence here on earth. The only things certain in life are death and taxes. We live in a time of relative peace and complacency. Throughout history, man has struggled to survive. It is in more recent times that that struggle is laughable at best..

    • Mr Kool — As I see it, one of the most important distinctions between an SHTF process versus event is the amount of time one has to do final preparation before finding one’s self up to their eyeballs in it. With an event, you’re pretty much stuck with what you’ve accomplished and accumulated up to that point. With a process, you have more opportunity to evaluate, react, and modify your preps and plans. But having said that, even if our ultimate SHTF scenario is a process, every process has a tipping point in which it crosses the threshold of “process” and becomes a de facto event.
      Pro tip — Keep your eyes open and be ready for anything.
      Thank you for writing, my friend. It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you. Always a pleasure.

      • Larry Kool says:

        I agree with you regarding prep time. My contention is that we should always be preparing (and prepared). Based on some past experience, I estimate that an “event” will likely give us no more than three days to make a decision as to how to react. At a minimum, we should have anticipated our personal reaction. For example, if you are planning to “head to the mountains” (i.e. “bug out”), you’d better have a full tank of gas in the truck. …and a list of what you plan to take with you (as well as all of those items readily accessible).

We welcome your comments.

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