Jan. 13 2014 07:01 AM

Yearly family and farm goals help prioritize your daily to-do list.

The new year stirs optimism and goal setting in many of us. Goals help focus your business and life. But before you charge forward with a "fire, aim, ready" mentality, I encourage you to take just 15 to 20 minutes to first honestly reflect on 2013.

Questions to ask yourself:
  1. In what area of our business can we celebrate and be grateful for in 2013? What have we improved and done well over this past year?

  2. In what area of our business did we learn something new that we want to implement and practice in 2014?

  3. What growth have I seen in myself in my role over the past year?

  4. What items did you think would be done by now that remain unfinished? What got in the way of completing those things?
Sit down with pen and paper and write out your answers. Seeing your answers on paper will help clarify your thoughts and open new ideas. This exercise of expressing gratefulness and identifying positives from the past year sets you up with a confident and practical mindset to define your goals for 2014.

Goal Setting for Farm and Ranch Families offers some tips for goal setting:
  1. Goals change with circumstances and time. Reevaluate and update at least once a year.

  2. Goals can be tangible, intangible, short-term, long-term, monetary and nonmonetary.

  3. Don't try to do too many things at once. Be sure goals are realistic and align with your available resources; number of employees and amount of time to complete a project are two resources to consider.

  4. Set goals with family members, rather than for them.

  5. Make yearly goals visible to increase everyone's commitment.

  6. Focus on the important, not the urgent. Don't waste another year on the urgent when the important is calling.
Set aside a few moments today to look back and evaluate, then look ahead. Set goals everyone is committed to completing. When the day-to-day fires gets heavy, make decisions that support these goals. Focus on what builds your business. As your goals are reached, all employees and family members will feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment.

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The author, Ali Enerson, was the special publications editor, responsible for books, plans, distribution of the e-newsletter and various internal communication pieces. She grew up on a 60-cow dairy in northwest Wisconsin, and is a graduate of University of Wisconsin–Madison with a degree in life sciences communications.