Build focus on farm’s future

How to keep the future in mind even when dealing with day-to-day demands.

During planting and other busy seasons on the farm, there’s so much demanding the farm leader’s attention – making sure the crop gets in the ground in the right timeframe, directing employees, ensuring everything is getting done. There are so many urgent items on our ‘to-do’ list each day.

With these urgent demands on the farm leader, the whole day could be consumed with putting out the ‘fire of the day.’ As farm leaders move from fire-to-fire, dealing with each crisis, it’s tough to get into a future-oriented frame of mind. But that’s what you need as you guide your overall business and strategy.

Taking this mindset brings up questions like: Where is our farm headed? Why? Where do we want to be? What’s the plan for how we’ll get there? How will we measure progress toward our goals? How will we know when we’ve reached our goals?

Making time

Time is something that we can’t get any more of – whether we’re a farm leader, employee or family member. Each of us gets 24 hours a day, no more, no less.

Having a long-term vision to evaluate activities against can give farm leaders a way to examine how they’re spending their precious time. It can help as they work to steward that time more wisely, in service of the future vision. They can evaluate what will move the needle most in the business.

Even as the farm leader handles day to day operational demands and wears many different ‘hats’ in the course of a single day, the long-term vision for the future is what brings purpose. It makes all the work worthwhile.

Knowing where you want the farm to be in the future can lead to making decisions now that help you ensure it will get there. Once you’ve set your long-term vision, you can start getting the right plans and people in place to achieve the future you desire.

Legacy thinking

This is also relevant when it comes to the legacy you’re building – and hope to leave in the future. With those thoughts come questions like: What timeframe do I hope to retire in? What do I hope the farm will be like in the future? Who will be involved, and in what ways? How will I train and prepare them for their involvement?

Do you have a long-term vision for your farm operation? How does that vision inform the legacy you want to leave? Will that vision involve members of the next generation or a successor leader in your operation? If this has generated some questions in your mind, you might talk with a legacy advisor about your hopes and plans for your farm’s future.

Read the new issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue features ideas on preparing for land opportunities, thinking ahead about retirement, how to keep pace with the changes of the 2016 crop year, and more advice for farm leaders. Get your free online issue here.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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