5 strategies for setting goals in 2016 for your farming operation

Farm Forum

“No wind blows in favor of a ship without a destination.” — Seneca

Setting goals is crucial to keeping motivated and focused. Focused, that is, on what needs to be done on a daily basis in order to be successful in your farming business.

But aren’t goals only for the beginning of the year? No way.

I set goals every week; every week, I stay accountable to a coach, assessing the last week and talking about the next. Those near term goals are derivatives of larger-term goals of course, but I accomplish them in bite-sized chunks.

We are going to go over the “SMART” goal-setting process in this post, and in the next we will be going over long-term and short-term goals, as well as goal trees.

Goal trees are made up of stepping stones to your goals. But before we talk about the effect of setting goals, we need to talk about how to set them.

For that, we turn to the “SMART” acronym.

Each goal that you set for your farming operation should meet each of the following criteria:

S = Specific: Think about who, what, where, why.

M = Measurable: How will you know it’s accomplished and track your progress?

A = Attainable: Is the goal reachable in the timeframe allotted?

R = Realistic: Are you willing and able to complete the goal?

T = Timely: Pick an exact due date.


in these areas

Now that we know the rules of goal-setting, let’s pick the areas we want to set goals in. Even though this is a farming blog, we want to also think about the keys to success in terms of “health, wealth, love, and happiness”: the four key pillars of life. You want to be maxed out in all of them

Here are some examples of specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals in each of those pillars of life.


General health goals are to be in good shape and sleep well. More SMART, you could say you want to lose 10 pounds within six months.

Or buy a fitbit and walk 10,000 steps a day on average within one month of the purchase of the fitbit. That goal may cause a chain of other goals to happen. You may have to buy a treadmill desk to get your work done, too, and you’ll be tackling two goals at once.


A general goal would be: save money. Specific and SMART, put away $250/month into a savings account starting in two months, for the length of one year.

That’s definitely a measurable goal. You know when you’ll start and how long you’ll do it. And $250/month for most people is attainable.

This is an example of setting micro-goals that map to your bigger goals.


Love is similar to happiness: if you have a lot of love, you’ll be happier.

Some examples of love goals for those in serious relationships: you can try 50 date nights with your wife or partner in a year. Every week on Thursday, you can put it in your calendar.

If it doesn’t get planned, it doesn’t get done. You don’t wake up 10 years from now and have a thriving relationship without intentionality.

I admit, I’m single, but if I weren’t, I’d suit up and take out the wife to a nice restaurant once per month. Budget: $200.

It’s always important to throw a budget in there so you’re not screwing up other goals. And there are plenty of budget-friendly things to do.


Happiness is directly related to your work/life balance.

Take the kids to Disney World in February for one week. Budget: $10,000.

Or go to a baseball game in every single park in America. You can tackle five a year (or more) if you can afford it.

Don’t forget about financial goals, either

Use Farm Management Software to help with financial goals. It’ll help you set up budgets for your farms, analyze your production costs, figure out where the revenue silo is leaking revenue, and learn which fields are not productive. Check out at least a free trial to the farm management software and see how it goes.

We have a system, “7 Steps to Becoming the Lowest Cost Producer,” that we walk all of our software customers through. It has to do with purchasing overhead, application, production, stress tests, government programs, insurance — all kinds of things that we can help you work through. After that process we start working on grain marketing plans. Fun awaits!


These are the SMART rules of setting goals. In the next blog post, we’ll cover goal trees, and how setting goals in one area can spread to multiple benefits across many areas of life and business.

Stay tuned!