Setting obtainable goals is the key to success

When it comes to financing farms, agriculture and rural interests, goal setting is an ongoing discipline. Farmers and ranchers most likely have daily and weekly goals in addition to longer-term objectives. It’s a daily part of rural life. I would think many producers plan and set goals without even thinking about it. Planning is part of a farmer’s routine and lifestyle – and they’re good at it.

As it relates to farm finance, lenders appreciate the fact that farmers are adept at planning and establishing a good set of goals. This helps reflect a clear path toward identifying their objectives. The better picture a lender has regarding a producer’s needs, the better job they can do in meeting these objectives.

Goals are personal. I think – and hope – we’ll agree that having goals is an important aspect of our lives. Goals add energy and excitement by allowing us to set new objectives. We can be aspirational yet attainable in identifying our goals. Goals can help us organize in areas including financial, spiritual, family, health and social issues.

Some points regarding goal setting:

1. Keep it Simple – The KIS Method works well in setting goals. There’s no need for fancy, system-based procedures. Just follow a simple 1-2-3 method and allow yourself to move forward. Write down your goals; it makes a difference.

2. Have a maximum of three goals at any given time. This allows us to maintain these goals and keep them “top-of-mind.”

3. Prioritize your goal set. You can prioritize by time: For example immediate, short and long term. Or, prioritize by their importance.

For example:


Get children’s school supplies by Sept. 1

Pay off vehicle by year-end 2020

Begin $50/week retirement savings (ongoing)


Visit with doctor regarding lab tests

Begin a walking regimen (4-times a week)

Prepare meal for a cattlemen’s meeting

As you accomplish any given goal, scratch it off and celebrate. Reward yourself consistent with the achievement. Add a new goal and re-prioritize as needed.

Get others involved to increase your accountability. This is another time-tested principle that works. Plus, it’s fun to have others take part and be interested in your goals. While some are personal, other goals can be shared for the benefit of others. Use your calendar, notes or reminder apps. in your cell phone as ways to enhance your accountability.

Again, most goals and objectives should be personal and individualized for you. They should stretch your abilities yet remain attainable. You can also have family goals just like you’d see in business organizations. Get buy-in from others and have fun with the process. Say you chose to save for a family beach vacation next summer, you’ll find more support from others because they’ll benefit down the road.

Another trick is to identify and write down your perceived benefits of accomplishing any given goal. For example, by losing 10 to 15 pounds, I’ll sleep and feel better. You’ll benefit with improved health and a sense of well-being.

You may have seen or heard of the SMART Plan for setting and achieving goals and objectives: The acronym is reflected as:

Specific – Have clear, identifiable and objective goals

Measurable and Achievable – A goal has value when you can measure it and acknowledge it once it has been achieved

Realistic – Often we tend to set lofty, unrealistic goals – they lose their value and we lose our enthusiasm

Timely – Goals should be appropriate for our season in life and have realistic timing in terms of our expectations

Michael Hyatt says, “Goal setting is not just helpful, it’s a prerequisite to happiness.”

What a great way to think about your goals!

Ken W. Knies is an agricultural and rural consultant. He holds a bachelor’s of science and arts from the University of Arkansas and a master’s of business administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. He formed Ag Strategies, LLC as a business unit focused on quality borrowers and lenders.


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