Oct. 10 2017 07:00 AM

Improving ourselves is as important as improving our farms

“What are your goals?”

That question came up during my visit to World Dairy Expo last week. It was one of the questions I was asked as a panelist in Dairy Girl Network’s Sharing Wisdom seminar.

My answer, and several of the other panelists’ answers, pertained to goals we’ve set for our dairy farms. I wasn’t surprised. Many of us have specific goals for improving how we care for our cows, land, and crops. Our cows and our farms mean so much to us that we want nothing more than to see them succeed.

And while I fully agree that improving our dairy farm business is important, there’s another question that needs to be asked:

What are your goals for improving yourself?

The importance of setting personal goals (and writing them down) was reinforced for me by my experience in Holstein Association’s Young Dairy Leaders Institute.

During one of the sessions at the Young Dairy Leaders Institute, the presenters gave us a neon-colored index card and asked us to write down what we’d like to accomplish in the next 5 to 10 years. It had been many, many years since I’d taken time to consider my personal goals.

When I was finished, my list included several goals for personal improvement . . . and I’m proud to say I’ve made considerable progress toward reaching those goals.

I pulled that neon-green index card out of my wallet a couple weeks ago to write down my newest self-improvement goal: becoming fluent in Spanish.

I learned Spanish in high school, but never used it . . . other than asking the housekeeper at a hotel once for more towels.

To revive my Spanish, I’ve been using the DuoLingo app. My kids heard me practicing my Spanish one afternoon and my son asked, “Are you playing a game?”

I told him that DuoLingo was kind of like a game.

“Can I play, too?” he asked.

Now, my 10-year-old and 8-year-old are learning Spanish with me. They learn new words and phrases in the app and we practice with each other.

Self-improvement is contagious. A couple years ago, when I set a goal of reading one book a month, I noticed shortly after that my kids started reading more, too.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho summed it up best in these words from his book, The Alchemist:

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

What are your goals for improving yourself?

The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.