Life is busy on a farm and the daily list of tasks, accompanied by the seasonal necessities, often mean that you don’t really have time to stand back and consider your goals. Often, we think we know what we are aiming for, because that is why we get up in the morning and spend all day working with our livestock.
The goals might be a bit vague: increase the head of livestock, get more money for ones that get sold… But without really knowing the actual steps you are going to take to get from where you are today to where you think you want to go.
More than ever there is a need to be really focused. If you are thinking about reviewing your current farm plan, or even starting a new one, it is good to consider how you can use some goal-orientated techniques to help you accomplish your ambitions.
Trying to set a goal and work through it can seem pretty obvious. However, so often we get caught up in being busy, we don’t quite break through.
Use the GROW model.
Sir John Whitmore, as well as being a racing driver, was a pioneer within coaching. He and his colleagues created the GROW model in the 1980s in order to help people take stock of where they are and where they want to go. It can be a good tool to use when you don’t know where to focus. It can help if you are wondering how to take a small step forward from the currently cycle in which you find yourself.
G stands for Goal: What is it you want to achieve?
R is for Reality: What does the current situation look like?
O is for Options: what options do you have?
W is for Will: what will you do?
Understand your goals.
Sometimes it is hard to really identify a goal, but think about the following:
- What would you like to achieve?
- What would that look like?
- What would that enable if you met that goal?
- How would it feel to meet that goal?
It is good to really hone in what you want. If that seems like a big goal, with multiple parts, break it down further, until you have one small thing to focus on. Remember lots of small steps accomplished can help work towards something more ambitious.
Where are you right now? What is your reality?
Next, think about your current situation. Maybe you find your ewes are producing too many singles or not enough twins. Or your cattle are finishing slower than you would like. Perhaps you need to find a way to spend less time on paperwork and you would love a more efficient operation.
Whatever your situation, recognising that you want to change it is a great step forward. Once you have considered your situation, focus on one thing that might be stopping you reaching your goal. Commons themes that stop people from reaching their targets are: not enough time, competing priorities, or waiting on others (such as suppliers). None of these things have to block you. Using the next step in the GROW model, can help you look for some ways forward.
What are your Options to get to your goal?
Next think about your options. What can you do to improve productivity if your current situation is that your sheep just aren’t producing enough twins, what can you do to improve the productivity? Some examples might be:
- Improve their feeding regime over the winter and into spring
- Move to body condition scoring by touch rather than eye
- Keep better records about ewe performance and consider culling those that consistently don’t produce healthy offspring
- Be more mindful of medication: such as vaccinating ewes to avoid disease that may harm pregnancy rates
What will you do to achieve your goal?
Once you have some ideas about your options, focus on one. Draw up a plan of how you will reach that goal using that option you identified. Make sure you are clear about what you need to accomplish it. How about the timeline? What tools do you need to get there? Who else needs to be onboard with the plan? What does success look like?
It is also useful to consider what might get in your way of succeeding in your goal. What you will do to ensure that doesn’t stop you? For example, if your goal is to keep better records, one thing that might get in your way is forgetting to use your phone to input data, rather than using pen and paper if you have livestock management app on your farm.
Think of tactics to prevent that: To stop me forgetting to do that, I will make sure I prepare for scanning sheep and adding a treatment onto the system whilst I am having a cup of tea beforehand. That way I won’t be in the race feeling like I am wasting time.
Or perhaps it’s the first time you are adding treatment records on this year’s lambs and you know if you cannot work it out straight away, you will just revert to the old way of doing things.
When you feel that response about to appear, have a tactic to prevent it. For example: “The evening before, I will do a few test records with some spare tags to check I can do it right. That way I will avoid frustration when in the race”.
Lastly, make a note of the goal and how important this is to you. Put it on your noticeboard or somewhere you will see it every day.
Keep focussed on your goals!
By being really focussed, you have a better chance of succeeding and small steps help to drive bigger change. And identifying even a small goal can be helpful.
We often find that using these sort of tactics helps our customers who are starting to use a livestock management tool for their business. It can be daunting, and it can be easy to fail. However, if you are really clear about your goals, and take small steps to make changes, it starts to get easier.
Try our app for free here or read more in our 2022 State of the Farmer Report to find out what might driving change in livestock farming.