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Getting it all Done – Goal Setting for Modern Homesteading

by Victoria Gazeley

Square foot garden.

I spent the last week looking over my goals and accomplishments from 2011.  What worked, what didn’t, what I’d never, ever try again (like putting too many things on my to-do list!)…

My iMac screen is covered with mindmaps, to-do lists, videos and audio links from Sandi Krakowski and PJ McClure.  I’ve been listening to non-stop mindset audios and reviewing goal-setting systems.  I’ve determined what tools are going to work best for me this year.  And now I’m getting down to business.

It’s time to set our homesteading, self-sufficiency, and ‘resilience’ goals for 2012.

The journey to self-sufficiency, or ‘resiliency’, can be really overwhelming.  Financial pressures, family responsibilities, employment – when exactly are you supposed to find the time to become a modern homesteader? Or even prepare for a simple power outage?  That’s why it took me more than ten years to go from the idea of living on a rural property to actually setting onto one.  It just seemed like too much work.

But I’ve discovered something.  Not rocket science, but it was revolutionary to me.

The secret lies in setting small, achievable goals.

Now, it’s taken a LONG time for me to get to this point, and it wasn’t without pain and a lot of beating myself up for not getting all the projects on my list completed within my self-imposed time limits.  And a lot of coaching by superb mentors.

Frankly, I’m still battling with to-do lists a bit, but I’ve learned a lot, especially in the last six months.  And now I’d love to share it with you!  My hope is that it helps avoid the delays I dealt with and gets you on the road to self-sufficiency faster.

So, in the spirit of the new year and setting goals and intentions, here are our 3 simple steps to setting self sufficiency goals.  Once you work through this process (it’s not laborious, I promise), you’ll have a solid plan in place to get you closer to your ultimate goal, self-sufficiently speaking, by the end of 2012:

Step #1: Answer this question: what does ‘self-sufficiency’ or ‘resilience’ look like for your family?

Close your eyes for a few moments and imagine what your life would look like if you were as ‘self-sufficient’ as you’d like to be.

It might mean being able to look after your family in an emergency, like an earthquake or flood.

Maybe you want to grow all your own vegetables and not have to buy any from the market all summer.

Or you might want to be almost completely self sufficient, living off-grid with a full permaculture garden, complete with rainwater collection, gray-water systems, solar and wind systems, and non-petroleum powered machinery.

It’s totally up to you to what level you want to take it.  The key is to be able to visualize the level of ‘resilience’ that’s comfortable for you, or even a bit beyond your comfort range.

Got it?  That’s a huge step!  Now…

Step #2:  Make a list of the tasks you’d need to have completed or things you’d need in your possession in order to make that vision a reality.

Here’s where you get to really have some fun (yes, self-sufficiency can be fun!).

Let’s use the ’emergency preparedness’ example: what would you need in the way of supplies to be able to look after your family for a week (or 3 or 6 months) in an emergency?

Potential emergencies will be different depending on where you live (flood, fire, earthquake, large-scale power outages, etc.), so be sure to keep that in mind as you make your list.  If you need some ideas, there’s a fabulous set of emergency planning checklists you’ll receive when you sign up to’s newsletter – it’s extremely comprehensive.  You can also check with your local emergency program website – they’ll have lists specific to your particular area.

Continuing with the ’emergency’ example, here’s what’s on my list for this year to prepare for an extended power outage or upset in the food supply:

  • 3 months worth of emergency food (freeze dried)
  • buy a wind-up LED lantern and re-wick our old oil lamps for lighting
  • build a ‘bug-out’ pack in case we had to leave our home quickly (in case of forest fire or other calamity)
  • buy a bicycle and trailer to get around in case fuel isn’t available for an extended period
  • update my first aid training
  • create a better emergency first aid kit (regular bandages, etc., plus essential oils, herbal remedies and a few conventional medicines)
  • grow more food in our greenhouse, raised beds and berry patch (build new cold frames, plant new berry bushes, etc.) so that we’re self-sufficient in vegetables from April through October
  • try growing veggies in winter
  • build or buy an outdoor wood-fired oven for cooking outdoors in summer
  • get to know the neighbours – find out what skills and tools they have that we could share if required

Our list will probably look a lot different than yours.  We’re on a rural property with clean water, wood for heating and cooking, thousands of hectares of public land for finding wild foods, and a freezer full of venison we could brine in salt water if power was lost for more than a few days (more on food preservation in an upcoming post).  You might need packaged water, or a water filter, and possibly more food stored.  It’s such an individual thing, this emergency planning – the checklists linked above should help a lot in your list-making.

So, make your list of what you think you would need to fulfill the vision you identified in #1 above.

Ready?  Congratulations!  Time to move on to Step #3.

Step #3:  Take a good look at that list, then pick 5 things you can realistically have done by the end of 2012 that will bring you closer to your big vision.

Here’s where reality kicks in.

If you live in the suburbs and don’t plan to move this year, the chance you’ll be totally off-grid by December 31 is pretty slim.  But if your goal is to be able to look after your family in an emergency, you could make sure you’ve got 3 months of stored food, emergency cash, updated first aid training, a wind-up radio, alternate lighting options and other ways to get around outside of your automobile.  OK, that’s more than five, but you get the idea!

In our example, I decided that our top 5 priority tasks for emergency preparedness for last year, 2011, would be:

  1. buy or store 3 to 6 months worth of emergency food (3 months done)
  2. build a ‘bug-out’ pack (done)
  3. buy a bicycle and trailer (not done)
  4. build a better emergency first aid kit (done)
  5. grow more vegetables in our greenhouse, with more raised beds and a bigger berry patch (partially done)

For 2012, it will be:

  1. build a cold storage room for food storage
  2. install alternate power system
  3. grow early and late season greens
  4. finish Permaculture Design Course
  5. get involved in local emergency planning group

Finishing these tasks means we can move on to all the other things on the list.  But getting these completed will help ensure we’ll thrive, not just survive, in an extended emergency.

So now it’s your turn.

What’s your vision?

What can you do this year to move towards self-sufficiency for your family?

If you follow these three simple steps to goal setting for modern homesteading, and then take action, we guarantee you’ll be closer to self-sufficiency at the end of the year than you are right now.  It’s important, even just to the level of being able to care for your family for a couple of weeks in the event of an earthquake or power outage.

It doesn’t have to be onerous, and can actually be kind of fun.  There’s not much that’s more rewarding than being able to care for your family because you made it a priority.  Commit to it, and enjoy the process!

And congratulations!  If you commit to this, you’ll be further ahead than more than 90% of your neighbours… maybe your success will inspire them to get prepared too!

Here’s hoping you never need an emergency food supply, or to live without electricity for weeks, but if you do, you’ll be very glad you took the time to prepare.

We’d love to hear your plans for self-sufficiency for this year.  If you’re willing to share, please do so below.  We learn most from each other, and it’s my goal we guild a community here where we do just that.

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Revised on September 21, 2012

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan McKenzie January 8, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Once again you’ve over-delivered on valuable content and practical tips, Victoria! This year I’ve made progress on saving food… at 91 cents a serving, I’m packing away dinner entrees, breakfast foods, and soups with a 15-year shelf-life. We do have a first aid kit, but I really need to look into upgrading it, and like you, increasing my first aid skills. I’m also gathering essential oils. I don’t have a bicycle, but we do have a horse… you’ve given me some great ideas to consider! Thank you, Victoria!


Anonymous January 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Having lived in the mountains of Vermont for 20 years where there are frequent power outages due to snow storms and now living in Florida and experiencing hurricanes I can tell you that your advice and suggestions are invaluable. Well Done!


Carol Douthitt January 10, 2011 at 3:00 am

We live in Northwest Indiana on the southern tip of Lake Michigan and have had several times in the past few years where we lost electricity because of severe snow storms. Fortunately, we have a wood burning fireplace AND we had enough wood already cut in the wood pile to keep us warm during those freezing cold weeks. It was kind of romantic to spend the nights sleeping in front of a blazing fire all week!

Most of our neighbors had to leave their homes to find shelter in nearby hotels because it was just too darn cold.

I’m not sure if I could tough it out much longer than 1 week with the reserves we have, so I’m going to follow your advise and get prepared with more essentials… like more food and water. Thanks for the tips!


Victoria Gazeley January 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm

So glad to hear you’re able to keep warm in a power outage! Sure isn’t fun if you can’t. We’ll be updating all our gear, too – I’ve haven’t been quite as ‘on top’ of this as I should be, but now is the time to take action and get organized. Thanks for sharing your experience!


LaRee December 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

We’re in rural Willamette Valley, Oregon. So when we have power outages we have no furnace heat, running water, lights. We kept our wood burning stove when we up-graded to furnace and keep still keep a stock pile of chopped wood. We can also cook on the top of that stove. We have stored water in gallon containers for drinking, washing (ourselves and dishes), flushing toilets. We store the water under our wrap-around deck. As for light we use lanterns, wick lamps, candles. Stored food, freeze- dried & canned make for quick meals with less prep and cooking.

Not perfect but very doable.


LaRee December 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

Also we have a generator and stored gasoline but have chosen so far not to use it. Noise level and cost. We cover our freezer and refrigerator with sleeping bags to keep them cold and just don’t open them except for food in fridge that needs to be used now!

I am enjoying and learning much from your blogs and articles. Thanks for your time and knowledge.


Victoria Gazeley March 23, 2015 at 10:42 am

You’re so welcome – thanks for sharing your experience!


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