Life dishes out plenty of hard knocks. You can’t escape every crisis, but with a little self-discipline and strategic thinking, you can drastically reduce your risks. It is possible to survive and thrive through challenges that would otherwise wreck most people.
I’ve been through plenty of hard stuff. I survived. But more importantly, I learned.
My goal here at WellRigged.com is to give serious advice to folks so they can be equipped with the right tools and the right mentality(See this post) to manage whatever life throws at them.
Today I want to talk about some concrete and practical ways you reduce the likelihood of major catastrophes in your life.
1. Expect Serious Crap To Happen In Your Life…Multiple times.
It’s not a matter of “IF” it’s a matter of “WHEN.” Accept it. Expect it! If you think you’re some kind of “exception” then I have no idea why you are even reading this article.
Example: I’ve spent many years in my line of work counseling young men under 25 years old. For the most part, I find them blissfully naive of how savagely their life ahead would treat them. I don’t say that condescendingly because that was the case for me as well….until I hit age 26 and my first-born son died and my wife almost did too(full story here.)
That experience and several others served to burst my youthful naivety to risk, made me “man up” and start thinking realistically(but not fearfully). It’s also what inspired me to start WellRigged.com. I want to help others mitigate unnecessary chaos since life is already tough enough.
2. Do A Personal Risk Assessment
Personal risk levels vary dramatically based on multiple factors such as age, health, vocation, and financial obligations.
1. Take a moment and look at each risk factor below. Picture the magnitude of the impact on your life as if a crisis were to occur in each area. Given you’re current situation, rearrange the list from most to the least likely crisis.
- Health (risk factors: obesity, drug use, smoking, diabetes, other major underlying illnesses)
- Accident (risk factors: Higher risk jobs, travel, lots of driving, irresponsible behavior, poor motor skills, poor eyesight)
- Financial (risk factors: maxed out credit cards and other debts, expensive mortgages, child support payments, unbalanced high-risk investments, single month to month income)
- Legal (risk factors: likelihood of being a defendant, unfulfilled contracts, bankruptcy proceedings)
- Family (risk factors: unhappy marriage, child or spouse with major illness, a family member with substance addiction or legal problem.
- Relationships (risk factors: shady business partner, mooching friend, criminal or drug-addicted friend, physically abusive significant other.)
- Location (risk factors: local crime elevated, war, poor sanitation, corruption, poor/non-existant access to critical healthcare)
- Employment (risk factors: short term contracts, toxic work environment, low upward mobility, “boom/bust” industry)
- Transportation: (risk factors: poor/unsafe public transport, frequent use of motorcycles/atv/snowmobiles, history of speeding fines, multiple at-fault accidents history, drinking and driving, a friend of a dangerous driver.)
2. Next, ask a brutally honest friend or family member who knows you well to assess your life risk factors using the same criteria you used. You need a third person’s perspective. We all tend to play down certain risks. “I only smoke a bit,” or “I don’t speed,” or “I don’t have a spending problem.” Take what your friend or family member says seriously, especially if they ranked a risk factor in the top three which you didn’t.
Denial in itself is a massive risk factor. Don’t be pig-headed! Acknowledge what needs to be acknowledged.
3. Implement an Action Plan To Minimize Your Top 3 Risks
If you don’t write it down, it’s not a plan. It’s just an idea. The reason I recommend implementing your plan across three risk areas is that some risk factors take a few years to adequately address. That is plenty of time to manage a few areas of risk at a time.
Example: 5 Years ago we were living paycheck to paycheck, sometimes having no money for essentials. We were not bad spenders and we were not in debt. We simply had a very low income. I did my research, sat down and wrote a plan as follows:
- Save up $5000 for emergencies
- Start a website as a semi-passive income(WellRigged.com)
- Once finances stabilize, use the new income to create other passive income streams across real estate and other investments.
- Invest a portion of the money for each child as a downpayment for a future home for them.
After 5 years of working on this, I’ve managed to get to number 3. My life now is completely different and much more financially stable. In fact, the income from this blog has enabled me to self-fund a large part of my non-profit work in West Africa!
I’m so glad I sat wrote down a plan and implemented it 5 years ago.
4. Don’t Assume You Have Insurance Coverage
Depending on what you’ve assessed your top 3 risks to be, upgrading your insurance may be advisable. Insurance companies are famously slippery when it comes to payouts, so make sure you read the policy terms carefully. You may not be covered for the liabilities you thought you were or the coverage may be too low.
Medevac Example: My work with a non-profit in West Africa puts my family and I at a higher risk of road accidents and health emergencies. I’ve been very close to calling a medevac jet on two occasions during health emergencies. While my medical insurance is good, it only covers commercial stretcher medevac by a commercial airliner. Logistically, this method of medevac is slower to activate(over 48 hours) and is dependent on the airline actually having 6 empty seat locations for a stretcher! That’s why I’m currently working on securing a private Air Medevac membership that will have a fully crewed and equipped jet “wheels up” to Africa within hours not days.
5. Deal with Bad Habits
Most of the greatest risk factors in your life can be resolved for free by simply dealing with your own bad habits. The problem is breaking them.
If you are stuck in a self-destructive addiction, the best investment you could ever make is to get serious long-term help for it even if it costs money. I credit my faith in God for steering me away from too many self-made disasters than I can count.
Example: I can’t help but notice the dents and scratches all over the cars of reckless drivers as they cut me off at intersections. They are literally reaping what they’ve sowed. Their insurance rates are insane, they drive crappy cars and they stand a huge likelihood of being seriously injured or killed in an accident which, among other things, means crushing medical debts and a likely long-term disability at some point.
People also incur massive financial risks simply because of impatience -car loans, credit card debt, and expensive mortgages. Practicing delayed gratification through buying used instead of new would free people from a huge amount of personal risk.
Smokers keep smoking, big boys keep gorging at buffets, and lying on tax returns is endemic. The list goes on and the consequences catch up to folks.
If you can win your inner battles, you will vastly reduce your personal risks.
6. Choose Your Close Friends Carefully
Show me your friends and I’ll tell you what your risk factors are.
You can’t choose your family but can choose your friends. Poor friends can expose you to massive risks such as crime, substance abuse, physical danger, gangs…the list goes on.
Take a look at the lives of your close friends. Are they emotionally stable, honest, hard-working, free from addictions? If not. It’s time to cultivate new friendships with healthy influences and start hanging out with them more.
Sometimes the only way to escape poor influences is to literally move to another city and “get too busy” to talk on the phone or visit home.
I’ve seen people break free of bad influences by moving, only to gravitate to a similar group of friends in the new city. Birds of a feather flock together, so you must also ask yourself why you chose to “fly” with a flock of “bad birds.” Often the answer is that you are a bad bird and you liked it! Don’t just blame your bad friends! You need to Take responsibility for yourself. Keep in mind that you were probably a poor influence on others too.
7. Create “Crumple Zones”
In 1951 an Austrian dude named Béla Barényi realized that many people were dying in car wrecks because their cars were too rigid. During an impact, virtually all the crash energy was carried right through the vehicle to the occupants. So he invented the “crumple zone” to absorb the impact and distribute the time over which the passenger was subject to the impact.
The same principle applies to risk management. Crumple zones are sacrificial zones that absorb the worst impact of a crisis for you. It doesn’t mean you’ll escape without a scratch. It means you won’t die!
Consider implementing these “crumple zones” that will drastically reduce the impact of a major crisis:
- Excellent health insurance
- A safer vehicle with comprehensive insurance
- Emergency Fund of $5000 or more
- Medevac Membership
- Disability Insurance
- Excellent Home Owners insurance
- Trustworthy circle of friends that help each other(church, clubs, etc)
- Multiple income streams
- Liability insurance especially if you are self-employed.
8. Get Organized
When bad things happen they often happen quickly. The last thing you want to be doing is have to hunt through a pile of paper, or back-searching email threads for contacts, insurance policy numbers, passwords, and account IDs.
Consider doing the following:
1. Put together a single spreadsheet and organize all your critical info on it. Password encrypt two USB thumb drives and put one in a safety deposit box or with a trusted relative.
|Geico Car Insurance||johndoe||password||123456||exp. Jun 9, 2023|
|Jameson Law||1 866…….|
|Dr. Mead Family DR.||1 514….|
2. Create a business card-sized emergency contact card and keep it in your wallet. Use a brightly colored paper. On one side, include numbers for your lawyer, insurance agent, bank etc. On the other side put your own name, address, allergies, and next of kin. Since it may be viewed by others if you are incapacitated, do not put passwords or anything that could compromise your digital security on this card.
This should only take a few hours to do, it is invaluable in an emergency.
Obviously, you’ll never eliminate your risks, but you can massively reduce them and their impacts. The process of reducing your personal risks will take patience, time, new habits, new skills, money and brutal self-honesty.
These are the traits of wisdom.
“The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” –Proverbs 27:12