With 2016 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take charge and set some goals for the new year. We know 2016 was a challenging year in many ways, but it also forced farmers to rethink how they do business. Keeping all that in mind, it’s time to do some critical thinking and set some realistic goals to get your farm back on track.
1Begin with the end
If you don’t know where you are going, how do you expect to get there? You can develop a roadmap, and plan the stops along the way, once you know where it is you want your farm or agricultural business to go.
Use your farm or business mission statement to help you identify what some of those overall goals are. If you don’t have a mission statement, it might be a good time to develop one.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. You have a much greater chance of reaching your goal when it is specific — identify the who, what, when, where, and why?
If your goal is not measurable, it will be hard to track your progress and know if you have actually achieved your goal. If your goal is not realistic or attainable, you will have a hard time accomplishing it. And by setting a time-frame, you hold yourself accountable for reaching that goal.
For example, stating you want to increase milk production on your farm by 5 percent in the next six months and 10 percent by the end of the year is more effective than simply stating “I want to increase production.” There are numbers you can track and a time frame for accomplishing the task.
After you have developed a healthy list of goals for your farm, prioritize them by asking yourself a few questions:
- Which goals are most important for my family’s well-being? Farm’s well being?
- Which short-term goals would help me achieve my long term-goals?
- Which short-term goals would conflict or impeded my long term-goals?
- Which short-term goals do not support my long term-goals?
- Which goals are so important that they should be attained even if it prevents reaching other goals?
In order to meet your goals, you have to put some time in mapping out your goals. Take each goal and break it into smaller chunks that are easier to handle and set a timeline for completion.
For example, maybe one of the ways to achieve better production is improving herd health. What can you do in the next six months to improve health? Implement scheduled herd health checks, update bedding and barns to increase cow comfort, etc. Each of these tasks can be set to a timeline.
5Track your progress
If you have taken the time to map out your goals and they are measurable, you should be able to follow along with your progress. Being able to put a check mark beside a goal or cross a task off your list can make you feel even the slightest bit of accomplishment toward your overall mission.
Read more in our Stay Focused series:
- Make 2017 the safest year on your farm yet
- Sydney Snider, former national FFA officer, shares a 2017 challenge
- Be ready for farm succession
- Five steps to stay focused on your 2017 goals
- Small changes can accomplish big goals
- Planning practical goals in 2017
- 9 strategies for a profitable new year
- Farm production goals for 2017
- A dairyman’s journey to better health
- 2017 goals for cattle producers
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(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
More Farming 101 columns:
- 2 types of livestock insurance policies
- 6 things you need to know about WFRP plans
- 3 basics of crop insurance
- How does liability insurance work on the farm?
- Why do I need farm insurance?
- How to understand and use Ohio’s CAUV
- How to utilize the Pa. Clean and Green Act
- 9 tips for filing farm taxes
- 8 reasons record keeping for taxes is essential
- 5 tips for post-harvest storage
- 7 tips for family meetings on the farm
- 4 tips for balancing your farm and family
- 4 tips for communicating on the family farm
- 4 tips for firing an employee
- 6 tips for keeping good farm help
- 4 tips for recruiting farm labor
- 5 general farm labor laws
- 4 tips for employing minors
- 4 tips for PTO safety
- 5 things young farmers should know about finances
- The farm balance sheet
- 5 items for your farm’s cash flow statement
- Personal and business records: Keep them separate
- What to include in your farm business plan
- How to approach a lender: Tips for getting a farm loan
- How to use microloans to get your farm started
- Saving for the future: 6 tips for young farmers
- How to create a farm safety kit
- 5 tips for child safety on the farm
- 4 tips for transporting livestock
- 5 ways to better understand tractor stability
- 6 farm equipment hacks