Dairy Coach: Make New Year's goals, not resolutions

Editor's 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 "New Year." It's hard to believe it's already January again. Now that you're into 2016, how are you doing with your New Year's resolution? Hopefully this year you'll be one of the few who's able to keep their resolution past February.

And that's the problem with New Year's "resolutions." Everyone knows these annual self-promises are made with good intentions, but are seldom kept more than a couple months. Just as it's a tradition to start the New Year with resolutions, it's 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's stop calling them "resolutions." Instead, call them what they really are - goals. I realize it's just semantics. But since most of us consider ourselves to be "goal-oriented," we're more likely to set goals and strive to achieve them.

Towards that end, what are your goals this year?

Is this the year you're 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 "experts" on goal-setting will tell you the same thing: "Your goals need to be specific, challenging and attainable. Write your goals down to help remind you to stay committed to achieving them."

Yes, that's good advice. But I'd 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 "I'm going to clean my office, pay more attention to my milkers, communicate with my team better and spend more time with my family," choose specific goals, and then write a three-step plan stating what you'll do every day/week to achieve them. If you're not focused and don't have a specific plan, you'll likely veer off course, get discouraged and give up until next January.

After you've made your list of goals, put a timetable on each one. Maybe it's a daily goal. Or maybe it's only attainable after working at it for a few weeks or months. If you don't associate a timetable to each challenge, you'll 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's 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's face it, if anyone is going to cut you some slack, it's you. After all, you know how busy you are, how demanding your day is and how hard you're trying. Regardless of how disciplined you are, everybody needs a little help being held accountable for our actions.
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't 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/.



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