Monday, January 11, 2016

A Self-Sufficient Life in 2016: Phase 2: Handling Setbacks

The very words "self-sufficiency" imply a sense of independence, doing things on your own, being alone. They inspire empowerment, a feeling that no matter what, you can do this. You don't need anything but your own two hands to change the world.

And that's all fun and good until you're faced with handling problems all by yourself.

In those instances, self-sufficiency can be intimidating. Too much. Scary. Mayday, mayday, we're failing our goals - anyone out there?

If you're anything like me, with a strong group of friends and fantastic family, the answer to that last questions is...... no. Confused? Hear me out.

Many of my goals revolve around some pretty laborious tasks....hard labor, gardening, fostering a sense of peace within myself, creating my own happiness, enriching my children. While friends and family care about me, care about my life, they can't tell me what to do when the crap hits the fan. They can't physically pick up my dreams and take over for a while when I'm sick or tired or just plain over it all.

And that's where being self-sufficient is most challenging. It's all on you, tired or not.

But there are ways to combat this sense of isolation. These are my top 3 tips for dealing with setbacks in your journey to becoming self-sufficient.

1. Expect it
Know ahead of time that your goals will not be easy to attain. Embrace this awareness from the very beginning. If your goals were easy, you'd have done them by now...even the smaller tasks I spoke of last week require focus and motivation to complete.

Prepare for major setbacks by remaining hopeful, but understanding you might be standing alone when the going gets tough. Sometimes chickens die and you have to dispatch them while crying, alone, in the rain. Sometimes a tomato plant started from seed and gingerly protected all spring will wither. Sometimes the dinner you spent an hour on will taste like garbage. Sometimes people you depend on leave, either of their own accord or not. Friends. Family. Spouses. Relationships, people, moments of joy, and life in general is not eternal. It's not fun to think about....matter of fact it royally sucks to think about.....but having a complete understanding of the nature of life will help when life happens. It will still knock the breath from your lungs, but you'll be prepared. You'll have practiced taking deep gulps of air to steady yourself.

2. Reach Outside
I have a standard list of support people I turn to when I feel destroyed. Some of these people are family, others are friends, but like all family and friend circles, not everyone understands my perspective. Sometimes I get advice that wraps me like a hug, other times I feel an unintended coldness that pierces my heart. It's not their fault. Perspective is earned by doing and we each do very different things.

So sometimes, my best bet is to reach outside of my inner circle and reach for those specifically involved in the very things I need help with. My homesteading group on Facebook helped me when I struggled with feelings of failure from a poor garden harvest and losing half my flock. My moms' group hurts and heals with me when I struggle with feelings of failure as a parent. I know exactly which friends of mine are unbiased enough to talk to about my failed marriage.....and sometimes these people are more like acquaintances, only popping in and out of my life every so often. They're still fantastic, close circle or not.

When you need help with one of your self-sufficient goals, reach out to a group of people that values the same goals. It doesn't make you weak....if anything, it allows you to deal with setbacks productively instead of heeding the advice of those who might not always understand the full picture.

3. Keep Motivation Handy
Some of the worst setbacks to happen to me come when I realize my goals and dreams depend on the involvement, appreciation, and support of another person. When that person is no longer available to help with my goals and dreams, I feel like these accomplishments are no longer possible. Kaput. No more. The same can be said of goals centered on money or time or the weather....we cannot control people, money, time, or the weather. These things are completely out of our control.

Keeping my methods of motivation handy helps me realign my goals with what I can accomplish right now, despite unexpected circumstances. I look at my pictures of horse-filled fields, baskets overflowing with homemade soap, cob-cottage homes, and vegetables piled up in massive pyramids and I envision them sitting in front of me, put there by my own hands. I visualize the things I want by drawing them to mind and then watching myself make them happen.

Maybe your motivation doesn't come from pictures and visions but from pets or kiddos. The most innocent souls on our earth can make everything seem so simple, so good, so possible. Maybe you draw motivation from movement, like yoga or walking. Whatever it is that motivates you, keep it close by and remember to draw upon the power of a motivated spirit when you feel like giving up.

I wish it were easier. I wish sometimes life didn't knock me down right when I started to regain my footing. But to believe there is no rhyme or reason behind these setbacks is to negate any opportunity to learn. Problems are sometimes out of my control, I get that. But I gotta believe something good can always come from the ashes, even if it's only the experience of loss and learning itself.

Any of you, dear readers, experience setbacks in your efforts to become more self-sufficient? How do you deal with problems that are beyond your control? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you so, so much for reading!

Ready to check out the other phases? Click below!

**Can't get enough homesteading? Check out the Homestead Blog Hop, hosted by some of the best and most beautiful bloggers in the self-sufficiency world. This post, and many of my others, are shared on the Homestead Blog Hop each week. From breadmaking to seed selection, home-grown recipes to herbal health, the Homestead Blog Hop has it all! Enjoy! :)



  1. When I have a setback, I try to take deep breaths and regroup.

    And I won't lie, I usually turn to chocolate.

    1. Haha and each and every one of those methods are, to say the least, fantastic. :)

  2. Emotional resilience is a huge part of being self-sufficient. Owning what we're feeling, rather than denying or ignoring it, and learning from those feelings, allows us to bounce back stronger every time. I really like the idea of identifying methods of motivation for moving forward. Great post!

    1. So true, Pam. I'm pretty in tune with my emotions - I just sometimes wish they would calm down a tad! I have a pretty deep-seeded insecurity about how emotional I am. I need to own it! Love that advice! Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Really insightful and useful post, thanks for sharing! I'm new to the Homestead blog hop and I'm making my way through reading all the wonderful posts!

    1. Thank you Nancy! Welcome to the Homestead blog hop - it's awesome!! :) Lots of incredible resources each week!

  4. When set-backs occur in my life I usually buckle down and work harder. I also scale my spending down to the bare minimum. I can handle financial setbacks more than losing people in my life. I usually spend too much time obsessing about what I did wrong. As I get older I try to look at a lost friendship as our lives were heading in different directions and just move on. Good luck Jen. You are strong and really want self-sufficiency. I am confident you will find it and teach us how to find it too.

    1. I am the same in some regards - I will start analyzing the logistical side of my life when things go south....because I am just like you - I obsess. Thank you so much for your well wishes and lovely comment - I am going to make it happen this year come hell or high water! :)

  5. Thanks for stopping by the Homestead Blog Hop

    1. Thank you for hosting it! Love that blog hop so much!