Not to get all motivational-speaker on you, but you really can craft a better life for yourself with some effort. It’s easier for some than for others, but we can all take steps to improve our personal safety and quality of life. A safe, clean life doesn’t have to be boring—although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with boring. Maybe not everything on this list will apply to you, or maybe you’re already doing it all (because let’s face it, this is mostly common sense to most of us). But I hope you can find some nuggets or reminders here that can give you a boost.
1. You don’t owe anyone a place in your life, no matter who they are—family included. Be deliberate about who you allow in your circle. And remember, bad boys aren’t fun or sexy for long. Mostly they’re just bad, and you’ll end up hurt.
2. In general, don’t read the comments on the internet. It’s all a mess.
3. There are two philosophies on work: Do what you love and you’ll never "work" a day in your life, or do whatever boring job makes you money that you can then spend building a great life outside of work. Both philosophies are perfectly valid and can give you a good life. Whichever way you choose, work toward creating the life you want and keep it in perspective.
4. Chill. Just … chill. Stop getting worked up over stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter. Doing something stupid because you’re upset about something stupid is a great way to land yourself in danger or trouble. This especially applies to road rage.
5. Things that aren’t your fault can still be your responsibility, and this includes aspects of your personal safety.
6. “No” is a complete sentence, and your boundaries are worth defending. People who push back on your boundaries are veering into toxic territory and should be treated accordingly.
7. Once a year, take every gun out the gun safe and give it a good inspection and wipe-down. This is a great chance for preventive maintenance and to remind yourself of what hasn’t been shot in a while and needs some love. Try to shoot every gun you own (outside of antiques and wall-hangers) every couple of years, and shoot your concealed carry gun often.
8. People whose lives are full of drama are fun and interesting; I get it. But it doesn’t take much for drama to turn into danger. Be careful around drama magnets and people who are perpetually angry or insulted.
9. Women are socially conditioned to be accommodating and polite to everyone we meet. You’ll have to work at unlearning this. You do not have to have a conversation or accept help or an invitation from anyone for any reason if you’re uncomfortable. If the other person thinks you’re rude—so what?
10. You’ve heard this before, but stuff that sounds too good to be true almost always is. Keeping that in mind will save you from a lot of scams and heartache.
11. Always ask the Uber driver who they’re picking up.
12. Have more than one self-defense tool in your toolbox—if all you have is a gun, you’ve severely limited your options. This can include less-than-lethal devices, but it can also include a self-defense mindset, a command voice/command presence and avoidance techniques.
13. Once in a while, look up the self-defense laws in your state, because things change. If you carry a concealed handgun, make sure you understand where you are and aren’t allowed to go with it, what the laws regarding use of force are like in your state, and what to do if you’re ever forced to use your gun in defense of your life.
14. Repeat after me: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” You don’t have to get involved in other people’s problems, and just because you carry concealed does not mean you’re obligated to play the hero. When it comes to observing arguments, physical altercations and potential crimes, be cautious about what situations you insert yourself into.
15. Find a way to manage stress. It might be journaling, praying, yoga, intense workouts, going to the range, whatever—but you need a way to get the worry out. I once read some advice from a shooting instructor about writing down everything on your to-do or to-remember list before you go shoot in a competition. That way, your brain knows it doesn’t have to keep those things front-of-mind because they’re written down and you can come back to them later. Then your mind is free to concentrate on the task at hand. Smart, huh?