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© 1999 Michael S. Hyatt

Like any big project, when it comes to Y2K preparations, you need to start with a plan — an organized, carefully thought-through scheme for acquiring the things you may need after Jan. 1, 2000.

Several months ago, I sat down with my wife and 19-year-old daughter to do just this. Sure, we had already done a good deal, but not enough. Like many Y2K corporate project managers, our progress was not proceeding as quickly as the days were slipping by. I was also aware that many supply lines were jamming up, and I was growing concerned that we might not be able to get what we needed if we didn’t order soon.

The first thing we did was to take 5 pieces of paper and write the following headings across the top: information, supplies, shelter, money, and protection. We then brainstormed what we still needed to get or do. We didn’t critique any of the items, and we didn’t worry about our resources (or the lack thereof). We wanted this to be a “wish list”; we could always cross items off later that we couldn’t afford or proved impractical on further reflection.

As we developed our list, here are some of the things we included on each page:

  1. Information. On this page, we listed all the documents we still needed hard copies of, books we wanted to add to our emergency preparedness library, and communications devices we still needed to buy (radios, antennas, etc.).

  2. Supplies. On this page, we listed all the food, water, and household supplies we wanted to stockpile. We already had a good deal of food and were storing water, but there were many items we hadn’t thought of, let alone purchased. We also listed any hand tools we wanted to acquire.

  3. Shelter. On this page, we listed the items we still needed to acquire to stay warm and generate light. We also listed specific items of clothing like boots, long underwear, down comforters, etc.

  4. Money. On this page, we listed our goal for an emergency cash reserve and some barter items. We also brainstormed about silver and gold — how much we intended to acquire and when.

  5. Protection. On this page, we listed items for waste disposal, medical emergencies, and self-defense.

This process took us a couple of hours. Once we had the list done, we went back and put an asterisk by the things that were a high-priority. As we evaluated priorities, we considered three criteria:

  • Was the item one of the “essential three” — food, water, shelter? We didn’t want to spend a lot of time acquiring other items until we had the basics covered. Compared to these three, everything else is secondary.

  • Was the item becoming difficult to get? In other words, were supply lines already beginning to jam up? This included dehydrated food, water barrels, generators, wood burning stoves, etc. If we didn’t order these soon, getting them later might not be an option at all.

  • Was the item low-tech or high-tech? We wanted to get the lowest-tech items first, because they are more reliable. For example, we’d rather have a good stock of candles before we buy a Coleman lantern or a kerosene lamp. We’d rather have a wood stove before we invest in a generator. You get the idea.

Once we had our list, we made assignments and agreed to meet every Sunday night to monitor our progress and make mid-course corrections.

As we move into “the end game,” it is imperative that you have a plan. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it must be clear and comprehensive. You don’t have as much time as you think and the best antidote to fear is slow and steady progress toward your goal. Start with a plan.

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