5 ways to kick 2018 into gear

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New Year 2018
The year has just begun: Make it a good one!

“Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal.”
— Don Shula

By Susan Crowell / editor@farmanddairy.com

OK, 2017 was a rough year for many farmers, so let’s blast into 2018 with no regrets, no whining and no looking back at what was or what might have been. It’s time to move on.

This is your pep talk. My half-time speech.

  1. Focus on fundamentals

I was raised in eastern Holmes County where basketball is king. Fundamentals of ball handling are pretty much coached from birth. When you play a Hiland basketball team of any age, you know you are going to be playing a team with sound fundamental skills. Skills, incidentally, that have propelled the girls’ team to five state championships, the boys’ team to three state titles.

Are you — and your team — rock solid in your fundamentals? Do you have standard procedures for employees to follow? Do you practice and coach until you can do these things in your sleep safely and correctly?

Beyond procedures, is your farming plan grounded on sound genetics, soil science and livestock nutrition, or do you need to go back to basics? All the bells and whistles in the world won’t replace fundamentals.

And don’t forget, some of the best training you will ever do is mental training.

  1. Be strategic

It’s no secret (to my family), that I’m competitive. I hate to lose. So when I played a new board game, Ticket to Ride, for the first time over the holidays — and lost — I immediately called for a rematch.

The game requires players to build railroad routes between cities and requires strategic thinking and tactical decisions that may change during the game. You have to play with the end goal in sight, but be flexible to shift if you get a new destination card.

Farming is like that, too. You have to stay true to your stated goal (you do have one, don’t you?), but along that path, be open to strategic opportunities that develop.

Good reads:

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Take some time to stop and think

The key word is “strategic.” Don’t jump at an opportunity that won’t benefit your end game, or will distract you or reroute your resources.

Be aware of trends; ask yourself tough questions; make time to think and plan.

  1. Agility

Today’s environment, no matter what the industry, demands people who are flexible and adaptable. People who are able to think on their feet and adjust quickly.

Now there are some things on a farm that can’t be changed in midstream or quickly, but a flexible mind set is key to agility.

You can actually prepare and practice to make yourself more flexible. Have you ever heard the old saying, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation?” Never stop learning, and plan for different scenarios so you are prepared for when they happen.

When people work hard and prepare a great deal, when the moment — the opportunity — comes, they can be agile and perform without “thinking.”

  1. Breathe

Don’t try to go through this rough patch alone and don’t keep your worries bottled inside. Talk to your family and trusted friends. Look around and find things to be grateful for. Trust me, they’re there.

Also read: 5 tips to recognizing  farm stress

Laugh at least once a day. Rest and recover. Take 15 minutes and swing by to visit someone you haven’t seen for awhile — and don’t forget friends or family in a nursing home or other facility.

Life is more than your farm.

  1. Focus on what you can control

I’ll never forget the late Blair Porteus telling me about an activity a Coshocton County young farm group did back in the 1940s called, “Bury Mr. Worry.” The young farmers literally buried a stuffed dummy, which represented the things — the worries — beyond human control that nag and distract farm owners.

“I took that to heart,” Porteus said.

That advice is still golden.

Worrying about something beyond your control isn’t helpful, and is like quicksand, sucking you further down into despair.

 

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