Wednesday, September 21, 2016

C is for Control

The future will be about a loss of control in our daily lives. Some of it will be big stuff that will affect you, such as your pension fund going bust or your country experiencing hyperinflation, and frankly there's not much you can do about it. On the other hand there are other things that you can control, and it's best to get a handle on them now while the going is still good(ish).

Health is one of the most precious things that you can have. To remain in good health for as long as you can without the need for hospitals and drugs and doctors is a worthy aim. For the average person, a healthy diet, a moderate amount of exercise and the avoidance of too much stress will suffice. A scary proportion of people are hooked on medicines dished out by doctors, as well as any number of other harmful substances. Try to get rid of any harmful addictions while help is still available. Likewise, get dental procedures and the like out of the way while the health systems are not collapsing. Assuming you are able bodied and of sound mind, nobody is responsible for your health except you.

Finances are another area where you can take control. Avoid all debt, if possible, and at least avoid all unpayable debt. Being in debt means that other people and entities have control over you. Downsize as much as you can in the expectation that if you don't voluntarily downsize you will be downsized involuntarily at some point. Live within your means - it's good practice for the future. Stop wasting money of takeaway food - learn to cook instead.

Make your home as resilient as possible. Insulate it, fix the roof, get rid of unnecessary energy wasting appliances and do what you can to cut down on its running costs. Have an energy holiday one weekend (i.e. no electricity or gas) and see how you get on. Get rid of any unnecessary clutter in your home by selling it or giving it away - it'll make you feel better. If you wish to hoard food and other dry goods at least put them somewhere out of your immediate living zone.

Try and get control over the essentials of life. This means water, food, warmth (or cooling, depending where you live) and shelter. Play what if games. What if the electricity went off for a month? What if the taps stopped running? What if the heating breaks down and it's minus 30C outside? In this way you will be prepared. If you don't do it already, learn how to grow food. If you have no space for growing food then volunteer at your local organic farm. Make friends with them and help them out so that they'll help you out one day. If you are well prepared for hard times then put aside a little extra to help others.

Taking back control is empowering, but try not to get too carried away with it as nobody has total control over their life. If and when a major disaster or shortage occurs one of your greatest resources will be your friends, family and neighbours. Make yourself indispensable to them and they'll do their best to look after you.


  1. Through hardwork, good judgement, and more than a little good luck I've found myself in a comfortable position financially, but ironically feel I have less control of my life than I did back in the early 1980's when I was starting out on my career and had all the usual commitments. It often seems to me that the biggest impediment to getting anything done is actually information and communication technology itself. Just for example, I used to insure my car by going to a local broker writing a cheque and walking out with a cover note, I now seem to spend more time on comparison sites and then on the phone to my chosen company than I ever did by going to the broker, I have to ask myself has technology actually improved this transaction? I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to resolve an issue with utility companies or financial institutions only to eventually discover that the problem had been caused by someone ticking the wrong box or filling in the wrong field on a screen months or years before. As a result of these concerns I am trying to only do business face to face in a real bricks and mortar location as I feel that, ultimately, this not only provides a better experience for me, but also helps to support local jobs - even if they are in branches of big national,or multinational organisations. Perhaps using modern technology sparingly, and selectively, rather than being connected 24/7 can also play a role in taking back control...

    1. I know what you mean. Through a stroke of good luck I recently found out that I'm owed a bit of money by the Spanish tax authorities. I have been told that for them to pay me the money I need to just go into my bank here in the UK and get the manager to write a short letter saying that I am who I say I am and that the bank account for the money transfer is mine.

      Now, I don't know if you are aware, but in Spain they still have banks with actual managers in suits behind desks. I've so far spent three weeks trying to get my local Natwest to give me a letter - the cashiers, when I have gone in, just look stunned and don't seem to be able to get their heads round the concept. They tell me to try the internet banking app (nope) or print out some statements (nope).

      It has occurred to me that the Spanish tax authority knows all of this and it is just one more way for them to avoid paying out what they owe.


  2. although i act on and observe all of the above quite faithfully; i realize that the 1 or 2 days of no elec-no gas practice would be 'fun'? and a necessary discipline-- i have lived for years in the great American desert (no water-elec or gas in most mines either and we survived quite well) hardship is only as hard as perceived--never needed doctors for decades-- gardens suffice as well as a little hard work to regenerate the body- patience accomplishes the rest. great article to revive healthful intent!

    1. Hi Nadine. Well done - it sounds like my kind of existence! The problem is that most people are wired into systems and don't have your level of resilience. Even the slightest interruption to services seems to make them lose their heads ...

  3. Hi Jason,

    All good advice. I assume you are going to do an A to Z series of posts? An intriguing idea. Renewable as far as I can understand it, really means local. I had someone giving me a hard time the other day about using firewood sourced from my forest. Weird.

    Hey, N is for Nirvana and also Nevermind which was released 25 years ago...


    1. Hi Chris. Yes - a quick A-Z just to dust off a few old concepts and get the fingers tapping again.

      Nevermind is 25 years old? Yes, I saw a picture this morning of the baby from the album sleeve - now 25 years old - recreating it. Time flies (swims?)!


I'll try to reply to comments as time permits.