By Emily Wilmes, U of M Extension
With the start of a new year, we’re all thinking about resolutions and goals for the coming 12 months. When I talk with farmers, I always ask them about their goals. It may be what their goal is for a specific project they are working on. Sometimes, we discuss “big picture”-type goals for the farm as a whole. No matter what type of farm you have or what stage you or your farm are at, goal setting is important. There are several things to think about when setting goals:
First, are your goals smart? I mean SMART: S-M-A-R-T.
S is for specific. M is for measurable. A is for attainable. R is for relevant. T is for timely. As you write each goal, ask yourself-Is it specific? Is it measurable? Is it attainable? Is it relevant? Is it timely? If it isn’t SMART, think about how you re-write it to make it SMART.
Second, are your goals for now or later? Thinking about goals in both the short term and long term is important. Typically, anything that is to be accomplished within a year is a short term goal. If the goal has a timeline greater than a year, it is a long term goal. Short term goals can be written as a “to-do” list. Write them down and hang them up in a high-traffic area, like on the fridge. That way, you will be reminded about them often and be able to achieve them in the set amount of time. Long term goals should also be written down, and be very thorough. If the overall goal is to be achieved in 20 years, are there ways to break it down into smaller 5 year goals. For example, if your goal is to grow the farm, perhaps within 5 years you can build a new building, and in the next 5 you can increase the herd size by 50%. Whether goals are short or long term, they should be written down and have a timeline.
Third, are they everyone’s goals? A strategy our Ag Business Management Team uses for goal-setting in farm-transfer situations can also be useful in setting other types of goals on the farm. It is a three-step process that involves developing, blending, and prioritizing your goals. In the first stage, developing, you come up with goals on your own. In the second stage, blending, you share and combine your goals with your spouse or siblings or whoever is in your generation on the farm. In the last stage, prioritizing, all people and generations on the farm come together to share their goals and create one, prioritized list. Like I said before, we usually encourage this process in farm transfer planning situations, but there’s no reason you can’t do it for your other goal-setting.
Setting goals is important for any farm, as it keeps the business moving forward and striving for the next step.