As much as I like to believe that I can do everything myself, I know that’s just not true. I fully recognize that I MUST rely on other people for many things in life, surviving an emergency situation is no different. Just think of all the professionals you have probably called upon to fix or upgrade your home or car, the doctors you have seen, the legal advice you may have received, and so on. You’ll quickly agree that you just can’t be expected to know or do everything on your own.
However, these are not exactly the shortcomings that I’m talking about. It’s more about the inherent qualities that make you who you are, which are both good and bad. For starters, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a shortcoming as “an imperfection or lack that detracts from the whole; also : the quality or state of being flawed or lacking.” In other words, a shortcoming is what you’re not very good at! With respect to this discussion I’m thinking about character flaws.
For example, I fully recognize that I am not an think-outside-the-box type of person. I don’t add 2+2 and get anything other than 4. If I haven’t seen it done before the chances are that I won’t figure it out on my own; at least, not without a lot of trial and error. Sadly, a survival situation is not the time to be getting things wrong. Because I recognize this fact about myself I also choose to do what I can to minimize this particular shortcoming I have.
Obviously, I cannot magically make myself think differently that I do. I can, however, compensate for this problem by learning as much as I possible can about a particular subject, keeping hundreds of reference materials around, and continually learning from what others have created. If you haven’t noticed, that’s precisely what this website is about: collecting resources and learning from others. And, since I’m already doing that for myself I’ve decided to share with you!
Another shortcoming I have is that I’m quite impatience which, in the past, has caused me to break things, do stuff wrong, and result in plenty of “fix it” time that could have been avoided had I practiced a bit more patience. Now that I’m older I recognize my impatience and usually force myself to stop and think about what I’m doing.
So, what can you do to correct your shortcomings?
The first step is to recognize that you have a shortcoming (or several in my case). I would imagine it’s the same as an addict coming to grips with the fact that they have an addiction. Only then can you understand the path to fix it. I would assume that so long as you’re honest with yourself you’ll come up with a few on your own. Perhaps your spouse, a family member, or close friend would be happy to point out a few for you. I would start with correcting one or two shortcomings at most. If you work on too many you probably won’t work on any at all.
The second step is to develop an honest strategy to counteract your shortcoming. Sometimes it’s obvious, such as not bringing along credit cards with you if you’re an impulsive shopper. Other times it may not be obvious or ideal. My inability to think-outside-the-box does not have an ideal solution so I do the next best thing: learn as much as I can.
The third step is to repeat the process until it’s ingrained in your behavior. As with any “bad” habit it’s easy to revert to what you know and do. This step is the most difficult one of all and where nearly everyone fails. Think about all of the New Year’s resolutions you may have made that you didn’t continue with after only a few weeks. It’s not that you didn’t want to be better, you just reverted to what you knew. I’m sure there are a variety of methods that can help but, for me, I’ve found that I not only need to set rules for myself (such as not to bring credit cards with me when shopping, ever) but to substitute better habits as well.
For instance, while I’m not a horribly impulsive shopper, I didn’t mind spending an extra 50-100 dollars while I was at the store or to purposely stop at Walmart while I was out because I had the means to pay for it: credit cards.
For the longest time, I didn’t like to use cash for purchases because I didn’t bother to track what I spent and it was a hassle to go by the ATM or bank. A habit that I thought was helping us (being able to track our purchases via credit and debit cards) turned out to be hurting us because I spent more money with “unlimited” funds available.
Once I recognized that I had a shortcoming (somewhat impulsive shopper), I developed a strategy to counteract it (leave cards at home and only use cash). I then reinforce this behavior by (1) allowing my wife to hide my credit cards from me–even though I really know where they’re at, my cards are out of sight and out of mind–and (2) ensuring I always have cash in my wallet, at least enough to do what I may need, such as to purchase gas but not enough to go on a Walmart shopping spree.
Maybe this isn’t an idea situation but it works for us, most of the time. Of course, I can still make purchases online but for some reason I’m fairly good about these purchases so I’m not terribly worried about it.
The question for you is: what shortcomings do you have? What strategies can you implement to correct them? And, what will you do to reiterate the process to ensure you don’t fall back into “bad” habits?