Holding onto your business with all you’ve got takes an incredible amount of energy and resources. In a 10-year period of being in business on my own, there have been two critical points in which I thought about getting out — the pressure felt insurmountable, so I can understand where some dairy producers may be at these days.

So, how are you holding up?   What critical decisions are you facing right now? I don’t mean to offend anyone with these questions, but you know as hard as these times are for some, it is time to take stock. 

You may say, “I don’t have a choice, I will just keep trying harder.” And, the passion for being a dairy producer is admirable. I know, because I have the same passion for what I do.  But is quitting a choice?  Of course it is.

Can you see yourself doing something different with your life? Is there life beyond the farm?  Of course there is. But there are a few critical life-skills that you will need for the journey ahead.

  • Recognize the point-of-no-return. The point-of-no-return is when you have made a  critical decision and there is no going back, despite any force (internal or external) that may be telling you otherwise. If you have decided to stick it out, no matter what, then your actions that accompany that decision should be in alignment with that decision. If you decide to call it quits, then your actions should align with that, as well.
  • Let go. If you are moving on to other endeavors, you must work at letting go of the chapter(s) in your life that involved being a dairy producer. Sometimes, we tie up so much of who we are in what we do that when things aren’t going well, we lose our sense of self-worth.
  • Monitor your energy. You know that to be in dairying takes having a long-term perspective and being able to endure the ups and downs of the business you are in. Know when you are running low in energy, and then do something about it — take a few days off, go to a conference to connect with peers, and so on. Your business, your family, your employees need you energized in order to lead effectively.
  • Leverage your support network. You must not go at it alone. Rely on a few key people in your life (e.g., spouse, business partner, trusted adviser) for support as you move forward.
  • Develop and nurture yourself. Explore, experiment, seek new training, discover.
  • Develop an exit strategy. Choose a route ahead and make a plan for exiting.
  • Work the vision. Imagine, envision and work toward the future you desire. It will require a lot of energy to move forward and away from where you are now.

Also, you must not lose sight that as a leader, many others are watching your every move. Why is this important? Because effective leaders face reality head-on and they don’t say one thing and do another.

It will be difficult for you to say that you are “OK” if you are not. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and say how you really feel, because the people around you will probably notice anyway. Being humble and admitting your feelings will gain you further respect among your friends and followers. It will also keep you from self-deception. 

Be aware of the lasting impact that these decisions have on your life and then, combined with the right skills, go out and achieve the best possible outcome.

Jorge Estrada is an organizational development consultant and leadership coach with Leadership Coaching International, Inc. He can be reached at (360) 481-0133 or Jorge@leaders-coaching.com.