The holidays are undoubtedly my favorite time of year! Starting in November, I bug my husband to put up the Christmas lights, decorations and Christmas village pieces. I start early in the year, searching high and low to find the perfect gift for friends and family, even though I know that it is the time spent with them that is what is truly valuable.
And, this holiday season, I am feeling extra blessed and thankful, due to the fact we are expecting a special present this year, with our birth our first child any day now.
Because of my upcoming maternity leave, I have been working on getting my ducks in a row prior to being out for a few weeks. This has given me an interesting opportunity to look at the calendar from a wider lens and to make plans and changes in the New Year, and to reflect on the amazing accomplishments of 2018.
With that being said, I have had the opportunity to already be considering my New Year’s Resolutions and the professional goals I have set for myself in the year to come. So, while we are all huddled down, surviving the cold and the cabin fever, with little else to do, other than work and keep livestock warm and dry, I’d challenge you to set goals for 2019.
But, don’t just set goals that don’t matter; be sure that when you set goals you write them down, set reasonable timelines, and set realistic outcomes.
Why write it down? That may be the first thing that you think of my challenge, or you may just think it’s a crazy plan. But, research shows that you become up to 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down regularly.
This gives you a road-map, if you will, of where you are going, and how you plan to reach your destination. With that being said, if you are using your written goals like a road map, you are going to want to be specific, and state some benchmarks of achievement, that you will be able to celebrate along the way.
The more clear, concise and descriptive you are of your goals, the more you’ll be encouraged, and know how to navigate discouraging set-backs, in pursuit of your goals. While it may seem menial to do so, writing down the goals you have for your farm or business is proven to make a huge impact on the likelihood of accomplishing those goals, making you a better manager.
One of the things that should be written in your goal outline, is a timeline for accomplishing your goals. They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same is true of any production operation; change and innovation takes time, and will require patience on your part.
There are goals that you will be able to achieve in one year, those are goals that include fence building, financial planning, gaining technical help from Soil and Water Districts and even signing up for programs such as EQIP.
Then, there are goals that are further away, that you will only be able to make steps toward in one year; some of those may be: building a new barn, a major increase in stock, or transitioning to all register stock. But, setting a reasonable timeline is a key to knowing how to financially sustain a production, as well as keeping producers from burnout and discouragement.
Finally, it is important to set goals that are realistic in terms of your own operation size. What work on one farm, may not work on yours. For example, planting row crops on slops that are too steep is impractical, as well as unsafe and harmful to the soil surface.
So, consider what it is you are working with, and be open to the help of professionals to make plans and to give practical advice. Then, be willing to prioritize your goals and the vision you have of your future operation and focus on what is most important, and what needs addresses first.
Setting practical goals will help you grow your operation, as well as making you more profitable and marketable in the long run. In some ways it may seem juvenile to set goals in such a purposeful way.
But, based on research some of the most successful professionals swear by a system similar to what I have outlined above. Writing down goals, giving them a practical timeline, and being sure they are practical to the operation you are trying to build up; it may not make you the next great American farmer, with the largest yields and highest test weights, but, it will keep your vision in the forefront of your mind, and you will see positive outcomes all around.
As we go into the New Year, I wish you all the best in production and safety, and I hope that you meet all the goals you set for yourself in 2019.
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