With drought and horrific fires in Australia, earthquakes in Puerto Rico, volcanic eruption in the Philippians, power outage in Oregon, flooding in Louisiana, there is no better time to think seriously about preparing. Challenges will not end; the scriptures teach us that.

As I have told you in the past, I have been facilitating the church’s financial self-reliance classes. Because of this, I have become more and more concerned about financial preparedness. I have had class members leave because they thought it was too hard, some canceled planned vacations for simpler, less expensive ones, but I have also watched a family purchase a new home after examining and eliminating some expenses. This year we will spend the year at Totally Ready on Facebook helping readers examine spending habits, save for an emergency, get out of and staying out of debt, and teach children to manage money now so they can be free of debt as adults. Please join us and let others know so we can help them as well.

A self-reliant lifestyle whether financial, spiritual or another doesn’t just happen, but it doesn’t need to be intimidating. Remember you eat an elephant one bite at a time, and you become self-reliant one goal at a time. Keep your goals small at first and don’t expect everything to be easy. Many of your goals will prove to be easier than you think.

Decide what areas you need to strengthen and create a plan. Exactly what is your definition of self-reliance? Is it being financially capable of living for a year without an income? Is it being able to go to your in-house General Store and meet the medical, nutritional and gift needs of your family? Is it being able to remain emotionally strong during a crisis? Is it being able to thrive during an emergency? Is it to be able to make basic repairs around the house? Is it to be fit and healthy? If you feel all of these are an important part of self-reliance, choose one or two and begin there. If financial is on your list begin there as so much success in the other areas depends on a healthy financial lifestyle.

Once you know your definition of when you have achieved self-reliance in each area you can plan to accomplish and conquer. You may need to purchase more food, medical supplies, items to be used as gifts, tools, seeds and gardening supplies. You may need to learn some skills. You may need to strengthen your spirituality.

The areas you decide to work on first will be based on your family structure, location, passions, skills and finances. We all have challenges to achieving total self-reliance but with a realistic plan you can achieve your ultimate goal one area at a time.

Create a plan that is practical and which you can achieve over time. This is not a plan for the year it is a lifestyle plan.

Establish a Budget

A budget will help you understand where you might be able to save money and will help keep you on track as you move forward to reach your goals. Be sure to include self-reliance in your budget so you can purchase at least one item each month or accumulate savings for several months to purchase a more expensive item.

Find a Partner

Ideally this would be your spouse but some of us have a hard time convincing a spouse that self-reliance can bring peace and even financial rewards. Team up with a friend, parent or sibling who has similar goals and can act as a coach/mentor. Call them often for support when you are discouraged or to share a success. In addition, don’t forget Totally Ready as we love to mentor!

Be Frugal

Practice financial discipline by making a commitment to frugality. Eliminate or downsize luxuries, such as satellite TV, car payment and smartphone services.

Remember these sacrifices will only be temporary and will allow you more freedom and peace of mind in the future.

Cultivate Friendships

While you and your spouse may both be committed to working through your plan, you need to build relationships with those who have different approaches and skills. Reaching out to others will provide support and encouragement, and maybe even accountability.

Never be afraid to ask for help. Remember the only stupid question is the one unasked.

Journal

This is a step you should not ignore. Becoming self-reliant is not an easy road. It will have moments of great triumph and moments when you feel you just aren’t making any progress at all. Keep a record of the steps you take each day even if that is only reading an article about how to harvest seeds or brainstorming a list of people who can help you learn a skill you need. Every small step will be important to reaching your goal. Every step is important! Journal and you will be able to easily see your progress and you will be amazed how much you are really accomplishing.

Put in the time

Set aside time each week to evaluate your progress and to set goals for the next week. Remember anything worth doing is worthy doing right and doing things in the right way takes time.

We have long been counseled to prepare for the trials and challenges of the last days.

For the past week I have had the primary song Nephi’s Courage come to mind several times. “I will go, I will do, the things the Lord commands. I know the Lord provides a way, He wants me to obey”.

President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.”

He will make self-reliance possible it is just up to you to take the first steps.

Be sure to check out Carolyn’s weekly posts on Facebook and her Totally Ready website for tips and help with all your self-reliance questions. Don’t forget to share you success stories with her there and here.