Editor‚Äôs note: The following column appears in the January 2016 issue of Dairy Herd Management.
It seems like it was just a year ago that we were talking about the ‚ÄúNew Year.‚Äù It‚Äôs hard to believe it‚Äôs already January again. Now that you‚Äôre into 2016, how are you doing with your New Year‚Äôs resolution? Hopefully this year you‚Äôll be one of the few who‚Äôs able to keep their resolution past February.
And that‚Äôs the problem with New Year‚Äôs ‚Äúresolutions.‚Äù Everyone knows these annual self-promises are made with good intentions, but are seldom kept more than a couple months. Just as it‚Äôs a tradition to start the New Year with resolutions, it‚Äôs also a tradition to give up on them a few weeks later. After all, we know we can always try again next year, right?
Figuring you truly want to keep your word on your resolutions this year, what can you do to make 2016 different than all the previous years? First let‚Äôs stop calling them ‚Äúresolutions.‚Äù Instead, call them what they really are ‚Äì goals. I realize it‚Äôs just semantics. But since most of us consider ourselves to be ‚Äúgoal-oriented,‚Äù we‚Äôre more likely to set goals and strive to achieve them.
Towards that end, what are your goals this year?
Is this the year you‚Äôre going to get your shop organized? Or, maybe you need to create simple systems that help you keep track of all of your maintenance and employee needs. What conversations have you been dragging your feet on with the people on your team?
Most ‚Äúexperts‚Äù on goal-setting will tell you the same thing: ‚ÄúYour goals need to be specific, challenging and attainable. Write your goals down to help remind you to stay committed to achieving them.‚Äù
Yes, that‚Äôs good advice. But I‚Äôd like to add a couple more details to these initial, practical suggestions.
Too often, our ambition is bigger than our willpower, and we try tackling more challenges than our busy lives will allow. Instead of just writing vague goals like ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to clean my office, pay more attention to my milkers, communicate with my team better and spend more time with my family,‚Äù choose specific goals, and then write a three-step plan stating what you‚Äôll do every day/week to achieve them. If you‚Äôre not focused and don‚Äôt have a specific plan, you‚Äôll likely veer off course, get discouraged and give up until next January.
After you‚Äôve made your list of goals, put a timetable on each one. Maybe it‚Äôs a daily goal. Or maybe it‚Äôs only attainable after working at it for a few weeks or months. If you don‚Äôt associate a timetable to each challenge, you‚Äôll risk trying to focus on achieving too many goals at one time, leaving you feeling frustrated and defeated in the end.
Finally, the hard part. And no, it‚Äôs not harder than actually achieving your goals. But the remaining step is what separates the dreamers from the doers. Share your list with your business partner, your veterinarian or one of your key employees. You have your list written down where you can see it, but let‚Äôs face it, if anyone is going to cut you some slack, it‚Äôs you. After all, you know how busy you are, how demanding your day is and how hard you‚Äôre trying. Regardless of how disciplined you are, everybody needs a little help being held accountable for our actions.‚Ä®This year, start the New Year with some courage and discipline, and get serious about regaining control over the life you want to live. And remember, when you fail from time to time, you don‚Äôt have to give up on your goals until you buy a new calendar.
Dairy CoachTM Tom Wall helps dairy managers create and implement simple employee management systems that work. For more coaching tips, visit http://www.dairycoach.com/.¬†