The Vital Importance of Self-Discipline

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So, here we are, depending on location, a few weeks into this lockdown/stay-at-home madness.

Above all else, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to look at where my plans have fallen apart, what went well in this first contact, and what can I do better.

Another thing I am taking note of is how other people are reacting. One thing is pretty obvious, a lot of people weren’t as prepared as they thought, and many only had vague ideas of a plan, or what was really important for prepping.

We have learned that hoarding ammo is not nearly as important as hoarding food and, weirdly, paper products, for when others freak out and panic.

Boredom is a morale killer

And, in what I hope to be a big lesson for many, how boring a lot of survival and prepping really is. There is just not a lot of adventure and action in long term survival situations. And this can lead to a big problem. Boredom is a morale killer, as well as a demotivator. When this happens, it leads to a downward spiral. We are seeing this in evidence already, as people are becoming unhinged in just a few weeks.

One aspect of my survival philosophy and one that I really stress during classes is Doing the Work. Doing the mundane things that need done, no matter the glory or lack thereof. When you develop the attitude that it all needs done, so we do it, or that nothing needs done, so we do nothing, it makes it easier on us as individuals to approach each task, or lack of tasks as they come along.

I call this the “sometimes you just have to take out the trash” mindset. It applies to more than just survival.

It can apply to combat, self-defense, recon, or medical. When you approach all tasks that need to be done with the same discipline as any other task, you realize you just get it done. It helps with the anxiety that can build up in times of stress, it helps you calm down so you can look at the situation from a more beneficial viewpoint. It lets you see options that are there but might be missed if you are in a more excited state.

It also assists with avoiding fantasy thinking in the situations we find ourselves in. If you can look at the taking of someone’s life as a job rather than something to look forward to, or be scared of, it helps you to learn when you need to do it, as opposed to it being an unknown, or, for some, something to aspire to.

Taking the trash out is not done for glory, it is not done to make yourself look better, it is done as a service to others in our groups, and we can do it, so we do it.

Keep your mindset down to earth.

We also can use that attitude to help others keep motivated. Breaking something down into its component parts helps people not get overwhelmed, and keeps them focused on the task at hand.

It is easy, especially when you realize a deficit, to fight to fill it, make up for it, or get panicked about it. And this is the worst state we can be in to actually, effectively address the situations we may be in. Keeping a down to earth, Do the Work mindset helps get those deficits filled without feeling overwhelmed or shamed. We simply see what we need to do, do it, learn the lesson, and move to the next item.

In this time, I would encourage everyone to use this situation as an opportunity to audit what we need to do better, patch our holes, and develop a mindset that will help us practically down the road, as things look to be turning for the worst.

A preparedness dress rehearsal is a gift we normally do not receive. Let us take advantage of such an opportunity.

Do the work, take out the trash. In the end, it is those who get things done who do the best.

About Terry

Terry Trahan has been a long term martial artist and teacher of personal protection, as well as an author for numerous publications. His experiences from being a gang member, enforcer, protection specialist, and bouncer have given his teachings a strong bent towards the practical. Fighting his way out of extreme poverty and some unsavory environs also gives him insight into survival and everyday life not often commented on. He can be contacted at terry.trahan at

Terry Trahan

Terry Trahan

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  • Jewels of preparedness information in this very good post:

    “ Above all else, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to look at where my plans have fallen apart, what went well in this first contact, and what can I do better.”

    If you’ve done nothing else during this pandemic hopefully this was it.

    “ We have learned that hoarding ammo is not nearly as important as hoarding food”

    “Doing the Work. Doing the mundane things that need done, no matter the glory or lack thereof.”

    Tacticool always gets priority in narcissistic self absorbed social media world but it is WRONG if your truly into preparedness.

    Gardens feed you but don’t make too many “likes”, caltrops protect you but the neighbors won’t see them beforehand from their new deck, medical supplies and fire extinguishers are often eye rolled till they are needed, a trash burn barrel is scoffed till they quit coming and septic tanks stink but can be a thing of beauty when there 12 folks trying to make it at one place.

    When this all began at the end of last year and at the first of this year when I and others sounded the alarm folks were still worried bout their cars, cool gun stuff and clothes. So now you watch them drive in a new or newer freshly washed and waxed car driving outta the HOA in the soup line waiting for hours to get food loaded up. Sometimes you need a new car I get that but sometimes you need a better car so a newer used is affordable and allows you to buy extra food, medical supplies etc.
    Guns are cool but a PSA AR will outlive most of y’all in a firefight so did you really need the DD and all the extra options? Having extra ammo is important, very, but if you ain’t eating, drinking water, having money in the bank when you suffer job loss and living decent in a crisis then maybe shift priorities.

    For those still suffering from loss and/or job loss I feel for you. I’ve been through it in the 80s. Hang tough and you’ll make it and once you do remember it as you progress in life and make good choices and stay prepared.

    Balance in all things and like he said do the work (it’s not only work but a lifestyle) and “take out the trash” without being told or praised.

    • @Matt in OK,
      I know a lot of the tacticool Rambozwannbes who scoff at the idea of gardening. They have a year (or 5) of MREs stockpiled! Pretty sure after a few months of MREs (they get real old, real quick) the wife would trade a case of MREs for a dozen fresh eggs or a freshly slaughter chicken.
      And if Ramboz disagrees with her, or will not even let her out to maintain OPSEC, Ramboz just might have an unfortunate “accident” in the middle of the night.
      These are usually the same Rambozwannbes who think they will be in charge in a community, and provide “Overwatch” while everyone else (usually the woman folk) does the gardening.
      Yes, I have seen this idea/sentiment online, and even worked with one of these chowderheads. But he was a world class jerk.

      • Lol yeah the “overwatch” most of them got overwatch on their waistlines. They lack discipline as the author mentions and aren’t “doing the work” in the gym at 0400 before work not worrying bout selfies.
        You can bet they ain’t “takin out the trash” outta sight in warpaint, pissing in a Gatorade bottle from their side not moving for hours with the sun beating down overwatch while your elbows hurt so damn bad but the bug bites take your mind off of it.
        They think it’s pullin it from the superduty, stroking morale patches, using Bluetooth running the ac waitin on “the gardener” to bring them a beer.
        MREs are good and I like them but they are a “layer” in the approach and as you mention them eggs mmmm mm.

  • Have had to put off spring cleaning because of the weather. It just works better when all the windows can be opened with the sun a shining. But, it’s the little thing that I can do everyday to take the load off the bigger task further down the road. >>sigh<<

    I believe we think better when our hands are engaged In the mundane. Our thoughts turn over better and our resolves get a bit of polish.

    Thank you for the good word!

  • This is a lot like the aftermath of the death of a loved one. You don’t feel like doing anything, nothing matters anymore. But I found that still making my bed every morning and having regular chores helps me out a lot. This is the death of things as we knew them. But, it’s a new beginning, and it’s time to get over it and start moving again. Things will get better. We’ve been through all this before as a country, and we can again. WWII, Pandemics, Depressions, Recessions. ALL WILL BECOME BETTER in the near future. And don’t forget to pray to God. Give thanks for all that you have now and have had in the past.

  • Bullseye Miss Daisy! Great common sense article.

    FYI I have been learning from you since you were a meager poster on old Mac’s site, way back when. Plus I am still learning from you girl. Keep up the great work, we are all so very proud of what you have done.

  • I agree. Doing/accomplishing things helps pass time and gives value to our lives. In studying survivors stories, making or having a plan is invaluable. If you don’t have a hobby or interest to occupy your time search out one and use this down time wisely.

  • It’s been a dichotomy in my home. DH is out of work, but I have been working tons of overtime. We both continue to ‘take out the trash’. I have been evaluating the strengths/weaknesses in our preps and working to ‘fix’ them. He has taken some of the load of regular household chores, as well as reviewing the more ‘mechanical’ side of things, as that is his ‘strength’.

    Great post, Terry.

  • Wow really this few a comments on here?
    Throw in some politics or conspiracy y’all blow it up.

    In reviewing my preparedness measures my biggest failure was self doubt.
    I doubted myself when I bought the masks and half face and respirators. I should have gotten more but began to doubt myself.
    It was partly because no one else was including the folks who were selling them. It was partly because my family was split between being onboard or “the old mans lost it”. Some were even reluctant to take the masks I gave them at the family meeting before it kicked off here.
    I’ve pulled myself up realizing that I’m not crazy and over the top completely and regained momentum in future efforts.

    How bout y’all?

    • I hear ya Matt.

      I made a pandemic box for family. They though I was nuts and for a bit, I did too. I also should have gotten more disinfectants and stuff, but then I doubted and didnt bother. Same with other supplies. Though I couldnt predict the run on TP.

    • Good question, Matt. My answer is probably going to make me sound bad, but here goes.

      This was really a crazy, last-minute thing for me. I don’t have a house in the US anymore. I had flown back from Europe for a funeral and was visiting my daughter in Canada when it first started to kick off, then I came down to the US to give my younger daughter a hand with the bills for a month. I got to the US and realized by the end of January this was going to get bad. I spent February power-shopping and got us stocked up on non-perishables here, while sending money and a list to my other daughter to do the same in Canada.

      I’m thankful I listened to my instincts even though my daughter kept saying, “Mom, we have plenty. There’s no place to put more.” We had basically everything before that early March run happened when everyone got on board at once. Since then we’ve only needed to top up. I spent some time and money increasing the security of the place and have plans ranging from mild (making it look like nobody’s home, warning signs, plywood) to hardcore (tripwires, caltrops, fatal funnels, ballistic shields). My internet search history over the past few weeks is nothing if not interesting.

      Regrets? I didn’t end up with the beautiful, home-canned organic goodies I always had before simply because I had to buy nearly everything at once. Time and money were limited. I’m in a little duplex apartment in the city, a far cry from the big homes with gardens we always had before. But despite it all, we have everything we need and could dig in for at least 4 months if necessary.

      This was not at all how I ever expected to face a crisis but we get the crisis that gets handed to us where we are at the time. So I’m glad I was able to be flexible enough in my thinking to make an unlikely place work and that I pulled it together in less than a month.

      • Wow Daisy!
        I hadn’t realized that you completely left N. America and fully embraced the ex-pat lifestyle. That definitely makes prepping more challenging because you have greater limits on storage etc. As you said though, “we get the crisis handed to us where we are at the time,” and I’m certain that both of your daughters were grateful to see you exactly at the right time. To put it all together for your youngest daughter in a month shows how the “prepper” mindset is truly more important than stored goods. With little advance warning or intelligence we know how to prioritize and where to place our efforts to get the most bang for our buck.

        Congrats on all of your efforts, in being in the right place at the right time for your family, and your new-found freedom in international travel.

        • Serenabit – with an empty nest, I decided to indulge my nomadic streak – just me, a checked bag, and a backpack. It’s been a great experience and it has really helped me grow. I’m a far more flexible person after many months of living someplace different every 3-6 weeks. I don’t regret it a bit, and when things stabilize, I plan to head back to my wandering ways.

          Thanks for your kind words.

  • I’ve always had TP stashed at home since I like to buy multiples of everything to avoid going to Costco every week. Guns and ammo were taken care of nearly a decade ago (and for other reasons), and lightly touched on every range trip. Now this is Canada, so attitudes and logistics are a bit different, but not too much.

    The biggest boon was early warning. I showed my wife a video from a site called “peak prosperity”, and we were both convinced that this is serious, even before the virus was on anyone’s mainstream radar. She quickly got on board the whole preparedness thing. We stocked up my existing preps, and I started re-reading every urban survival book I have.

    It’s going well, but the #1 lesson is to have access to a crystal ball. And yes, a garden and supply of water are more important than a second gun. Harder to do in the suburbs with two working parents though.

  • I agree with Matt that self-doubt is a real issue. When others berate & shame you for preparing, including TV news, it is hard to stand firm. I got most of my perceived holes filled in early this year but I am still very concerned with the supply chain.

    For me, it is hard to keep some family members on board with staying safe.

    This is a great post, Terry. Thank you.

  • I wish I had time to be bored! My dad had a saying: Boredom is mental poverty. I guess I inherited his “do the work” attitude because I find myself busier than I was when I spent 9+ hours away from home! Granted, I’m still teaching from home so that takes up a big chunk of my day, as does caring for my 92 yo mother who lives with me, but I can’t seem to get caught up enough to really check off any of the boxes I need to check. Garden is started, but I need to start more seeds. House is organized chaos while I rearrange where I store stuff and figure out how much I’m using and where my holes are. I’m trying to ready a house for sale, so that’s taking up a ton of time, and I still have a garage full of boxes that I have to sort through from my move last fall. Time has always been my most precious commodity, so boredom is non-existent for me in this forced slowdown!

  • Calling this “a preparedness dress rehearsal” is profound. I’ve wonder if this is a test to see just how the sheep can be manipulated and what freedoms they’d willingly give up. What will come about next year?

    All indications are that meat will become more scarce, so stock up now. The supply chains have holes so other groceries may also be impacted. I am grateful that I stocked on TP because it was on sale in January using the logic “it won’t go bad.” I’m using that same logic on laundry detergent, soap, etc.

    The garden is being planted, and I noticed that something is feasting on my young green bean leaves. Last night I was out with a flashlight hunting down young slugs. You have to do what you have to do…

  • I learned how unorganized I was. I went to buy TP forgetting where I put the 50+ rolls I already had. Same with other stuff. In the interim I believe we have before being slammed with the next crisis,I’m dragging all preps out,and noting what is in every bag,container, and box,and amount thereof,and place it in a discrete location
    Same with ammo. This way I won’t have too much of one caliber,and not enough or none of another. Yep,I was lucky this time.

  • All this is just too weird and ridiculous to take at face value. We have trashed our Constitution and even attacked churchgoers for a common cold that may not even be as bad as usual? We are too stoopid to figure out that “flatten the curve” means “prolong the pain?” We don’t realize that staying indoors will reduce vitamin D and thereby increase the death rate several fold? That a social life prolongs life and increases resistance to disease–especially in the elderly? Etc.

    The most anti-Constitutional governors saw rocketing approval ratings, so obviously the average American is dumb as a box of rocks. The rest of the world is doing the same counter-productive things. so I do not worry about reserve status. But smashing so much production means truly hard times are ahead, and we need to prep hard. Those who are Christians need to realize that this might or might not be the time of the antichrist. I have read that CIA, etc can put voices/sounds into your head, and project movies into the sky. So if you see “Jesus” in the clouds, be very skeptical and test it with your heart.

    Most of you know nothing about FREEZE DRYing, which saves much more nutrient content than other food preservation. Look up Harvest Right for a home system, and if you cannot afford that one, look on Amazon for a vacuum pump and use that with fast freezing in your home freezer. You will also be contributing to a healthier future if civilization survives this sabotage, because on-farm freeze drying would allow farmers to grow tastier varieties instead of something poor enough to withstand 2000 mile shipping. Walmart carries a vacuum pump, too.

    • “Most of you know nothing about …”
      Sounds an awful lot like someone else we used to know on here.

  • I’m not sure how successful a vegetable garden would be here in my neck of the woods especially given the bear… but I did join a CSA for this summer. My goal is to learn to can and preserve more.

    Here in NY, I’m especially concerned about the supply chains being disrupted and shortages of meat and milk. Dairies in my county are already struggling and closing, and are dumping their milk due to a lack of shipping/processing facilities available right now. I’m praying things turn around for them and other farms, small businesses, healthcare workers and all those affected.

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