5 tips for setting farm goals

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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.

farming 101

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.

2SMART GoalsStay Focused
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.

3Prioritize goals
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?

4Implement 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.

Sources: Ohio State Extension, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension.

Read more in our Stay Focused series:

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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:

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