What is a Self Reliant Lifestyle and How Can You Pursue It?


If you’re wondering what a self reliant lifestyle is or how to live it, here is some valuable insight that can help you understand what it is and choose how to begin your own path towards a self reliant lifestyle.

self reliant lifestyle

A Self Reliant Lifestyle

In order to begin to live a self reliant lifestyle we first have to truly understand what self reliance is and how to build a lifestyle around those principles. What are the foundations of self reliance and how can we develop concrete, actionable steps to achieve the noble gift of self reliance? 

Self reliance means having skills and traits that enable us to depend upon ourselves, our families, and our personally developed communities to support ourselves and each other without relying upon larger systems and organizations that we have limited or no control over. In essence it is taking our own lives, freedoms, and futures into our own control as much as possible in order to preserve them on our own terms, and so that we can maintain a level of autonomy and control that we cannot have when we leave these parts of our lives up to the choices of others.

That’s a mouthful. Let me give you some examples.

When we grow or raise our own food, we are self reliant for our food security, rather than depending upon supply chains to provide every element of our diet and leaving our food options up to what is available in stores.

When we work towards and achieve debt freedom, we become less entangled in a financial system that we have no control over, and put our financial autonomy back into our own hands as much as we can. Of course, using an established currency that is subject to inflation or putting your money in a bank will always create a “value” barrier that we cannot control.

When we teach ourselves skills like how to maintain our own cars or fix our plumbing or install drainage in our land or keep a milk cow, we are removing a “middle man” whose rates we do not set and whose availability we cannot control. In essence we create our own ability to fix our own problems instead of continuing to exist in a scenario in which our safety or livelihood is contingent upon someone else being available and willing to help us.

Does that make a little bit more sense? 

Our current social system in the United States is one of convenience. We all use these conveniences, myself included! From fast food to instant coffee to drive through oil changes and mobile banking, everything is set up to be easy, instant, and hands off.

This is nice – until it isn’t. Until a system fails or crashes or gets hacked.

“Controlling” your money from your mobile device is luxury, until the system is down and you cannot access your money at all.

Fast food is great (or is it?) until there are food shortages and you need to feed yourself at home by yourself and you have less access to food than you thought, and worse, no know-how in the kitchen.

Drive through oil changes are great until there’s an oil shortage or a labor shortage and prices go up so high you can’t afford the most basic maintenance on your car, and you realize that you have no idea how to do such a simple task yourself.

These small and seemingly insignificant failures may seem distant and irrelevant. It may seem like the benefits of these conveniences outweigh the downfalls. But do they really?

What is the true value of convenience?

I think that we place more value in it than we should. I think that we’ve separated ourselves by leaps and bounds from having any control over our lives simply because newer easier options now exist. Is that what we want, truly?

If this resonates with you then you need to answer the next question in a thoughtful, deliberate manner.

What can we do about it now?

That’s a million dollar question (especially with inflation being what it is).

Want to hear the good news or the bad news first?

The good news is that our foolishness isn’t irreparable. There are most definitely things we can do to regain some amount of control over our lives and the systems we choose to live within.

The bad news is that since it is now generations who have given up these skills, it will be a hard won battle to regain them. It will take a lot of work, study, determination, and strength of will. Do we have that in us? I ask myself that almost daily.

I want these freedoms for myself and my family, and yet my spirit groans at every modern convenience I choose to give up in order to teach myself “the old ways.” I want to do less work and feel more accomplished. But is that how we regain ground? 

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. In order to have the successes our intellect craves and our senses struggle with, we really must be willing to make sacrifices. We must be willing to challenge ourselves in a way that our current generation hasn’t been challenged. And we must be willing to ignore the sidelong glances and disdainful scoffs of peers who cannot fathom why we would give up the wonderful world of convenience.

Pursuing a self reliant lifestyle needs concrete steps.

What are some of the concrete steps we can take to teach ourselves the skills that can set us apart from the systems we’re meant to blindly depend upon?

Let’s start with some tips that will help us avoid being overwhelmed and giving up, because sticking with it is the most important part.

  1. We must choose actionable steps that are measurable and practical so that we can see the progress we are making and we can appreciate the fruits of our own labors.
  2. We must be sure not to take on too much at a time, but rather to begin with a doable amount to learn and practice and hopefully reach some level of success before adding in more skills to attempt. Start with the things that make the most sense for your life and your family, or the things that will support you the most right out the gate.
  3. We must find communities, individuals, friends, and family who will support us, both to cheer us on and also to help instruct us. These people can be found in person and also (with the convenience of) the internet.
  4. We must be willing to share these new skills with our kids, our families, our friend groups, and others who are interested to learn, rather than to keep the information to ourselves.

With those things in mind we can begin to brainstorm which things we want to tackle and where to begin. One useful way of doing this is simply to take stock of your current lifestyle. Write a list of all the services you use regularly that you do not know how to do for yourself, but which you think maybe you could learn to do. Or make a list of the services you use that cost you the most money in a year, and begin with some of these.

No matter where you begin, know that truly learning new skills takes a lot of time and can take a lot of effort. But in the end, that is where your value lies.

self reliant lifestyle

Skills for a self reliant lifestyle

Here is a not-at-all-complete list of skills that you could learn to make your lifestyle one of self reliance rather than dependence. Many of these listed skills have additional skill subsets that might have to be tackled one at a time in order to consider oneself successful at the broader skillset.

  1. Learn self discipline in regards to practicing new things.
  2. Learn to cook, from scratch.
  3. Learn to grow or raise your own food, vegetable and animal.
  4. Learn to preserve your own food to make it last longer than its growing season.
  5. Learn to maintain your home and land.
  6. Learn to maintain your vehicles and cars.
  7. Learn to manage your own money, from budgets to savings to investments.
  8. Learn to mend, make, or source clothing.
  9. Learn to self diagnose the basics and use accessible herbs, medicines, or homeopathics to secure your health.
  10. Learn true self defense. 
  11. Learn to hunt and fish.
  12. Learn to forage. 
  13. Learn to bargain and trade.
  14. Learn to build sound structures.
  15. Learn how to teach your kids if you have kids.
  16. Learn how to deliver and care for kids at home if you want to have kids.
  17. Learn how to nurture your mental health and that of your family.
  18. Learn how to structure communities to help support individuals.
  19. Learn how to enjoy and entertain yourself and your family.

Like I said, this is not an all inclusive list, and I would say almost every single one of these is a heading with a lot of subheadings and subskills. It’s okay if you need to tackle much more basic skills before taking on greater undertakings. 

That is just the nature of learning.

So, what makes the most sense for you? Where should you begin?

Check out the rest of our site for additional resources to help you decide where to begin, or to help you begin to dive into learning some of these skills. We’re sharing because we’re on the same path with the same goals, and we want to be sure you can come along with us.

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4 Replies to “What is a Self Reliant Lifestyle and How Can You Pursue It?”

  1. I really appreciated this post! Especially the list of examples at the end. In this very convenient country, we can find ourselves bored and reaching out for entertainment. This list give so many great ideas of learning that would be a valuable investment in ourselves, our children, and our future!

    1. Amelia, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! You really hit the goal on the head. I’m hopeful that more people can gain helpful and productive insight from this as well.

  2. You are totally speaking our language! Great post! We live in the city, but are learning some urban “homesteading” skills slowly and as best as we can. Built a compost bin, have my little worm baby livestock helping to feed our simple and small garden. Of all the things we’ve worked on to renovate our little fixer upper, the most common compliment we get from our neighbors is how our little garden has inspired them including our composting methods. What a wonderful journey this is! 😁

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that, Charlene! Thats exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about here. You don’t have to live on acreage or be off grid to learn these things and set yourself up for truer freedom than our generation appreciates. We are on less than a quarter acre in town, cant have animals, and are renovating a fixer upper too. And same as you, our neighbors continually compliment our tiny little garden and tell us how happy they are to see us doing it. It really is a community affair. I love it! 😊

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