It isn’t easy to begin with the end in mind. Lots of things can change as we go. But it is important to set clear, attainable, measurable goals.
Maybe driving is a good analogy. If we want to get somewhere, usually it is good to know where we are going before we start.
I’ve been using a GPS system for a couple years now and it has changed the way I think about finding a place I’d like to go.
As a teenager, after I got my license, it was my job to drive my sister and myself to things like 4-H meetings and the drive-in movie. And to get there, I would simply ask my mom for directions. Amazingly she knew all the street names, and told me where to turn and what landmarks to look for 1) to know when my turn was coming up 2) to know if I went the right way.
For example, “when you see the stone wall, your turn is going to be just a bit up on the right”. Or “If you see the Chinese food place you went too far.”
I’ve used lots of maps, in books, printed on paper, while I was a dairy inspector. There were two well used books, which we would label each farm on. There would be a little pencil square with the name of the farm or farmer. I learned lots of back roads driving around Central and Eastern Mass that way.
After passing on those books, I started getting the directions to places (for young farmer meetings or other farms) off the internet. These directions lacked landmarks, and sometimes the street names were wrong, but they generally got me to the right place. Worst comes to worse, I could stop at the fire station and ask for more directions.
Now all I need is the address, and the GPS does the rest, usually it is right.
Recently, I had someone telling me how to get somewhere the “old-fashioned way.” It seemed strange to me. I had to resist the temptation to say “Ok, whatever, just give me the address.” But she did good: describing each step, including landmarks. “You’ll know your going the right way when”…
And it reminded me of goal-setting in farming, in life, and in business. It seems like being coachable is important before we begin goal setting. Sometimes an especially nice person will say, “perhaps you should try this direction,” or “You seem really good at”… or “You seem to be having alot of problems, have you tried God as a solution?” Sometimes other people, people who have “been there” can give us good direction or “guidance.”
Maybe it is financial goals, or other goals related to the farm. It is always important that we make them clear, measurable and attainable.
Writing them down is really important too. I have seen this kind of thing lead to success year after year, for many people.
I think the practice of reflecting on goals and writing them down in 1, 3 and 5 year increments is important for beginning farmers and retiring farmers too. Beginning farmers to communicate where they want to be and retiring farmers, so they can determine their needs and then communicate that to the beginning farmer.
Do you have some good examples of goal setting and how it helped you?