Ever since I watched "The Good Life" in my teens, I've had an interest in self-sufficiency. The show is about Tom Good and his wife Barbara who live in 70's suburban England. Tom is unsatisfied with his career working as a draftsman creating plastic trinkets and on his 40th birthday he decides to quit his job and go back to a life doing things for himself.
Tom and Barbara sold many of their possessions, replacing them with things that were useful (a methane generator). They then dug up their front and back lawns and planted a huge food garden. They added chickens, pigs and a goat to the chagrin of their neighbours.
What appealed to me most about the show was that Tom and Barbara both worked harder and had less, but they were the masters of their time and were able to grow personally and work at more varied and interesting things. Everything they did had a purpose. They had a vested interest in what they were doing and were able to directly reap the benefits of their work. It wasn't always easy for them, and they had a fair number of things go wrong, but they were happier for it.
Tom and Barbara went back to basics, growing their own food and eschewing all of the modern conveniences. I don't believe that it is necessary to go that far to be self-sufficient. Running a business or becoming an independent contractor/consultant removes the dependence on a single income source. Reducing expenses and purchases to those things that are truly needed and bring value to life makes self-sufficiency much easier to attain.
The biggest benefit of self-sufficiency is that you are wholly responsible for your life. Not the company you work for, not your boss, not your government. That responsibility gives you the freedom to take control of your time and the things you do. It's a lot more work and there is a lot more risk, but ultimately I believe there is a lot more satisfaction in learning the skills needed to support yourself and to do things for yourself.
Self-sufficiency goes against the grain of modern society. We've been conditioned to buy and own and consume without thinking and to just jump on the treadmill and go to mediocre jobs for the better part of our lives and unfortunately that does not make us happy. There is a huge amount of satisfaction that comes from learning and doing things yourself, but it is hard to put it into practice.
My current mission is to become self-sufficient to the point where it won't be a calamity if something outside of my control changes. I'm not sure I know exactly what looks like yet but I've made a start.
I have started with a garden that I am expanding this year. I am selling one of our vehicles and am working on my side businesses to generate some additional income to become debt free and independent of my job.