Updated: Dec 27, 2018
With 2018 coming to a close and 2019 right around the corner, many of us begin to turn our thoughts to what we want to accomplish in 2019. In fact, 88% of Americans will make at least one goal or resolution. While this may be true, many of these goals will not make it past the first couple months of the year. This blog will cover how to create attainable goals, stick with those goals, and hopefully give you some ideas for creating some farm specific goals.
Create SMART Goals
One way to create attainable goals is to follow the acronym S.M.A.R.T. This method will help you create and plan for goals in a way that will help you follow through to the end.
Create detailed goals. Focus on specific behaviors and possible results. For example, say you want to try and eat healthier. Instead of simply making that your goal, create a more specific goal like “I will eat one serving of green vegetables every day.” Think of one of your goals. What specific action could you do to achieve this goal?
Can you assess the progress you are making? Do you have a way to measure and evaluate how far you’ve come towards you goal? In your goal statement you should include something that is an evaluation metric. This could include how many, how much, or a date/deadline. For example, you could decide you want to do more continuing education. To make it measurable, you might say, I will attend 3 meetings/seminars on agronomy topics by March 31st.
Yes, we should stretch ourselves when we set goals. But it still needs to remain within the realm of possibility. If we set goals that are too big or far away from our area of expertise, they more often than not seem much too daunting and unfortunately get abandoned. Make sure whatever goal you decide on is realistic. Do you have a big goal that might not fit under the “achievable” category? Break it down into smaller chunks. Is there a part of it that you could set as your goal for this year?
Your goal should be important to you. And its wise to make it a goal that also fits in with some of your other goals. Ask yourself, does this goal help me achieve some of my other goals? Is this a worthwhile effort to make? Is now the right time to work toward this goal? Will this goal distract me or prohibit me from reaching some of my other goals?
T: Time Specific
Set yourself a target date. A goal without a timeline generally results in not taking active steps towards that goal. Decide when you would like to achieve your goal. Is it a month from now? A year? Several years? Give yourself a deadline. Then set check up points. “At 6 months I will check in and have achieved X.” Providing a timeline gives you a framework to assess you progress and motivate yourself to keep going.
Now that we’ve discussed a useful framework to make your goals, we need to discuss some ways to keep progress going and achieve those goals. The first is to prioritize. After you set your goals, you need to decide which are the most important. Ask yourself: which of these are most important or influential to my well-being, my family’s well-being and the health of my farm? Do some of these goals act as short term goals assisting towards my long-term goals? Are there goals that are so vital that they should be prioritized and worked towards, even if it prevents or delays me from reaching some of my other goals? Use these questions to rank the importance of your goals.
With each goal you set, obstacles will get in the way. Awareness of what some of these issues may be can help us prepare for when they hit. Think through what will get in the way of me achieving this goal? What time constraints are on this goal? What can I do to minimize these threats?
Sometimes it is helpful to create some different categories to help provide some framework for a variety of goals. Try creating some categories to cover your personal life and relationships, your physical and mental health, your wealth or financial well being, and your business and farm goals. Grouping into categories helps you hit on multiple facets of your life and helps you create a benchmark for a well-rounded life.
It’s always easier to achieve goals with help. What people and tools do you have at your disposal to help you achieve your goals? Family members? Equipment? Community? Land? Landlords? Utilize these resources!
Creating a mission statement can act as a long-term goal and help guide your short-term goals. Create a mission statement for your farm or personal life. Then use this to motivate you in 2019. What should be included in a mission statement? A mission statement should summarize why your farm entity exists. It will also give a summary of your long-term vision for your farm. It should create a framework and desire to reach that vision. It also gives you ideas for measurable steps and investments that will help you reach your long-term vision.
Some Ideas to Give You A Start…
Need a jump start? Here are some ideas for goals you can set for 2019.
Organize: Have those farm books got a little bit behind? Does your desk have a few too many farm magazines on it? Is your work truck starting to look like a file cabinet on wheels? Set a goal to get organized in 2019. This would be a great goal to break into smaller specific goals. For example: In January I will get the months of November and December up to date in my accounting software. In February, I will sort through my desk and file receipts and invoices. Etc.
Make Family A Priority: Farming is a busy lifestyle. There is always something that can be worked on, that needs fixed, that should get looked at. Its easy to get sucked in to our to do list and forget the most important things: our families. Perhaps you could make it a goal that you will have one sit down dinner a week with no TV or phone with your family. Or make it a goal to take the kids out for one on one time with you once a month. Maybe it would be to schedule a weekly or biweekly date night with your spouse. Just the two of you catching up with each other. Perhaps it would be having a monthly breakfast meeting with your parents. The options are endless. Make the goal to prioritize family. And then put it on the calendar just as you would an appointment with your accountant or doctor.
Commit to Conservation: We all want to be good stewards of what we’ve been given. Make a goal towards conservation. This could look like fixing up waterways and terraces that have been neglected. Or maybe being more conscious about the amount and timing of fertilizer we are putting on. Maybe your goal should be doing split applications of Nitrogen: one preplant, and one in season. Perhaps it could be doing variable rate application of nutrients.
Prioritize Health: I don’t want to be the one that breaks it to you, but you aren’t invincible. We often overlook our health and getting regular checkups as a point of pride (“I don’t get sick.” “I haven’t been to a doctor in 10 years.”) Its time to set whatever is holding you back aside and make health a priority. Aside from getting regular health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol and overall health, take into consideration what family risks you might have. Do you have a family history of cancer? Make it a goal to get specific screening in 2019. Another important one you may consider is yearly skin screenings. Farmers spend a lot of time in the sun. Set a goal in 2019 to go see a dermatologist. We want you all to be around for a long time. Please set a goal to take care of yourselves.
Try out a new technology: Pick out a new technology you’ve been looking at and pull the trigger. Try something new that you think would help your bottom line. Now is the time to try something new while the technology is new and there is plenty of resources available as you adopt something new. Plus, you may be able to catch some New Year’s deals.
Ask for help: Too often we try and go it alone. Set a goal in 2019 to ask for help learning a new skill or on difficult tasks or big projects. For example, you could make it a goal to ask for help learning a new farm management software. Perhaps you could ask for help with marketing. Drawing on others knowledge and resources not only helps us learn, but strengthens our community. Share your goals with someone else. It’ll help keep you accountable.
Make 2019 Great
I hope these tools and suggestions provide you a useful framework for achieving your goals in 2019. Setting and keeping goals can be daunting. Following these steps can help you achieve your goals. Don’t forget to tell a friend to keep you accountable. Good luck! Leave a comment below with what some of your goals are!