How And Why To Use

How And Why To Use

When I sat down to write about the third skill I want to learn in 2013, I realized that I had only briefly glanced over the site that driving me to learn or master thirteen new skills in 2013.  So, rather than talk about a skill in-depth today, I thought I’d spend some time going over the site, explaining its purpose and giving everyone a brief tutorial on how to use it.

So, let’s get started.

13-in-13 Challenge: The Mission

First things first, let’s explain a little bit about the site and what its intention is. (yes, the website address is that easy to remember) is home to the 13-in-13 Challenge.  It was created by the folks over at The Survival Podcast as a way to help people identify and acquire/master new skills.  In their own words:

The 13 in 13 Challenge is a call to develop or drastically improve your personal skills in the coming year. These skills can be any hands on practical skill from ancient skills like flint napping to traditional skills like trapping and hunting or even technical skills like graphic arts or computer programming.

In its core essence, the 13-in-13 Challenge is about bettering yourself as a person and pushing you to achieve skill sets you otherwise wouldn’t.  It is not about just ‘checking a box,’ so to speak.  Rather, the governing idea of the Challenge is to push yourself past your status quo and to make a big improvement in your life.  The Challenge is very broad in nature.  You can pick skills you want to learn – maybe you’ve never camped before in your life and you’d like to do a few overnights this year – or you can pick skills you’d like to master – maybe you know basic auto mechanics, but you’d like to rebuild a transmission this year.  You’re allowed to define your goals however you see fit as long as they force you to make a large stride in your abilities.

As you might expect by the fact that the 13-in-13 Challenge is sponsored by The Survival Podcast, most of the goals on the site (but definitely not all of them) have a survivalist or prepper theme to them.  Jack Spirko (founder/owner of The Survival Podcast) wanted to drive home the point that it’s important that this country restores it skills and ability to fix or build things on our own.  Our passion for invention and hand-built goods has waned over the years and by prompting people to build up their skills sets we can, perhaps, regain some of that personal independence that was so prevalent in our country only a generation ago.  Whether you’re growing your own tomatoes or building your own furniture, there’s a certain amount of pride, self-sufficiency and independence that comes along with that task.  We need more of that mindset these days! The Site Tour

13 Skills - HomepageNow that we’ve explained what is all about, let’s talk about the website itself.  As mentioned previously, the website can be found at  When you first go to the site, you will see a page similar to the one at the right (click on it for a bigger view).  You’ll notice that the link banner at the top allows you to explore many different areas of the site.  Feel free to spend some time exploring before you sign-up.

Speaking of signing-up, all you have to do is click on the Register Now! link in the link banner and follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Select up to thirteen skills that you want to work on in 2013.  Don’t be intimidated at this step.  You can pick just one and move on.  Also, remember that you can always change your skills at any time.

    13 Skills - Registration Step 1

  2. Fill in the information for your account including username, email address and password.  Then click the green Create User button at the bottom of the page.

    13 Skills - Registration Step 2

  3. At this point, your account is in a pending state while the staff reviews it.  But, don’t stop here.  You can now describe each goal you have.  Put as much or as little information in here as you want, but remember that the more specific you make your goals, the more apt you are to actually stick with this challenge and accomplish them.  So, instead of saying “I’m going to learn how to shoot” you might say “I’m going to take a class on proper shotgun maintenance and use.”  When you’re done describing your goals, click the green Continue button at the bottom of the page.

    13 Skills - Registration Step 3

  4. Once you’re done describing your goals, you can enter all your social media information.  You don’t have to enter anything here, but the more you enter, the more folks on the site can get in touch with you and converse about your goals.  Allowing people to get in touch with you can be invaluable if you’re having trouble mastering a goal and need help.  Click the green Update Settings button at the bottom of the page when you’re done.
    13 Skills - Registration Step 4

At this point, your account is set-up.  If you click on the Account Setting link located all the way to the right on the link banner, you’ll be able to see your account.  You can also edit it from here.  You can go in and add a profile picture, fill out the About Me section, update your social media links, and add/delete/edit your selected skills.  Also, it’s important to note that if you click on one of your skill sets, you’re brought to a page with everyone else who has chosen that skill set.  You can explore this page and see what goals other people have set up under that skill set.  At that point, you can click on people’s profiles and find out how to contact them if you have questions on their progress or how they went about learning something. How I’m Using It

We’ve run through what and the 13-in-13 Challenge are about and how to navigate the site.  Now let’s talk about how I personally plan on using the site.  I think a little back story is in order here. 

As you probably know, I live on Long Island.  We recently went through a rough spot here when Superstorm Sandy hit.  While my family was one of the lucky ones in that our home was not damaged, we did experience a twelve day stretch without electricity.  It was cold during that time – getting into the low 30’s at night – and we even got six inches of snow one night during that stretch.  Needless to say, I came to the realization that I needed to be more prepared for situations like this one, especially now that I have a family to take care of.  That interest in emergency preparedness led me to search the web and I stumbled on some prepper sites.  I had always viewed preppers as loonies.  You’ve seen Doomsday Preppers, right? Some of those folks are certifiably nuts!

What I quickly learned, however, is that most preppers aren’t like that.  They are normal folks who are more or less working on the CYA principle.  Better to be prepared for a catastrophe than be caught with your pants down.  The more I read about it, the more I agreed with that thought process.  Anyway, I realized that I had a lot to learn and a lot to do.  It was about this time that I stumbled onto The Survival Podcast and heard about  What better way to improve my preparedness skills than to participate in this challenge.  If I’m successful, my ability to protect and provide for my family will be greatly improved at the end of the year.

If you want to check out my account on the site, feel free to.  My username is LBSurfer and I’m more than happy to let you see what I’m planning on doing.  You’ll notice that my skills fall into three main categories: protection, outdoor skills and home preparedness skills.

Home Preparedness

My home preparedness skills include blade sharpening, fitness, beer making, canning, composting, first aid, and food storage.  When Superstorm Sandy first hit, I realized that my family was incredibly unprepared in terms of food.  My goal is to better our situation by providing for ourselves (we have a garden already, but we don’t compost) and having more food on hand – food storage and canning come into play there.  Blade sharpening doesn’t necessarily fit in the household skills all that well, but we have more blades in the kitchen than anywhere else, so I figure I’ll be doing most of my sharpening on those.  Likewise, fitness and first aid will help me more around the house than anywhere else.  Beer making just sounds fun! And there’s nothing wrong with deciding on a skill for this challenge just for the fun of it.


In terms of protection, I plan on acquiring my conceal carry permit (which is required to own and even shoot a handgun in the NY county I live in) as well as purchasing a shotgun and learning proper use and maintenance.  Now, don’t think I’m going all gun-crazy here.  There’s a method to my madness.  During the extended power outage, we had no phone and cell phone coverage was spotty at best.  This meant that if something happened where I needed to call 911, I probably wouldn’t have been able to.  I feel the need to protect my family.  With that in mind, a basic 12-gauge shotgun is a nice investment.  In addition, I have gone to the range with some friends recently and really enjoyed shooting them.  The handgun permit is more of a ‘just because.’ I don’t have intentions on buying a handgun any time soon, but getting the permit is something I want to do – even if it’s just so I can go to the range with my friends.

Outdoor Skills

Finally, I have a few outdoor skills I want to learn or improve on.  I used to camp a lot when I was younger and in Boy Scouts, but haven’t been in a long time.  In addition, my fire making and land navigation skills have really tailed off since I stopped camping.  I’d like to knock the rust off these skill sets and get back into the woods more.  I enjoy hiking and used to enjoy camping, so all these skills seem to fit into making those experiences more enjoyable.  In addition, I’d like to learn how to track.  I’m not a hunter but I’m also not opposed to it.  I find the ability to track an animal through the woods to be incredible interested and would love to learn more about it.


We’ve covered a lot of ground here today, but what I want you to remember is that it is important to constantly striving to better ourselves.  By signing up for a challenge like the 13-in-13 Challenge, you’re committing to being a better person at the end of the year.  In order to do that, you need to make sure your goals are precise and lofty.  Your potential growth is directly proportional to how big your goals are.  If you have easy goals, you’ll most likely hit them, but you won’t grow as a person.  On the flip side, if you set lofty goals, you may not reach them all, but you’ll grow more as a person in the process.

As you’ve seen in some of my previous posts, I’m going to flesh out each one of these skills in more detail over the next few weeks.  This post, however, should give you a rough idea why I’m concentrating on them as well as how I plan on using the site.  Your mindset does not need to be like mine nor do you need to have a prepper theme to your goals.  You can define goals for personal or professional development throughout the year.  Just remember to push yourself to excellence with whatever goals you do set.

I hope that the explanation of the site was helpful.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.  My contact info is on top of the right sidebar.  I love hearing back from readers.

Good luck with your goals in 2013!

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