Jan. 2 2020 09:30 AM

Use lessons learned in the past to shape 2020 into the best year yet.

Use the new year to fuel you with hope and optimism.

I'm probably not alone when I say, "Bring on 2020!" To me, 2020 seems pretty big; a start of a new decade, and hopefully the start of some much-needed good luck for us all.

A new year gives us a chance to look forward. I get it, if we look back in the rearview mirror, we are reminded of all the heartache and headaches 2019 brought on. A year that forced more dairies to exit the industry and left the rest of us to figure out how to manage to get by with a new set of challenges. The past year was one where the weather made the headlines and many us were worried if we would even have a crop to harvest. For us personally, a barn fire in July made us nearly give up on it all.

Yes, 2019 was a year of a lot of broken pieces that might force a person to want to sweep it all away and start fresh. How many of you can relate?

But, instead of sweeping it all away, many of us are carefully trying to glue the sections back together and figuring out our next chapter. My tips to making it work include patience, faith, and holding on to hope.

It is a new year my friends. Year-over-year milk price futures are up. The sun is out. The fields are frozen. The ground is bare (or at least in northwestern Illinois it is). I'm choosing to look at life through a positive set of lenses.

Believe me, I really do understand that some of the puzzle pieces are jagged and might not come together perfectly or come together in the time span we want. However, I'm also reminded that with hope and faith and a fresh start to a new year, that the pieces to our life puzzle will eventually come together.

My advice to you all (and to myself) is to reach for the stars in 2020. Set goals, talk (especially to those who you make big life decisions with), carve out downtime in your busy schedules, and use the heartache and headaches of 2019 to remind you of your own inner strength, perseverance, and faith.

Let us all use those God-given, learn-by-example traits that each of us have deep inside ourselves to make 2020 our best year yet.

Karen Bohnert

Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.