Chip Flory: Purpose-Driven Goal Setting

03:11PM Nov 26, 2019
Chip Flory
As Farm Journal Economist and host of the “AgriTalk” radio program, Chip Flory helps farmers understand the markets and seize opportunities.
( Lindsey Benne )

Goals are set every day. Most are short-term and don’t deserve the time or the effort of being a long-term focus. A short-term goal might be to clean a sprayer by noon. Longer-term goals range from items to complete this month to multiyear, career-defining goals that require strategic planning, a timetable with deadlines and “plan Bs” if a course-change is needed.

Projects Versus Goals

There is a difference between a project and a goal. Projects are tasks to complete, such as cleaning a sprayer. But add an element of time (by noon), and it becomes a goal. The timing element is present because achieving one goal will provide you with an opportunity to do something else on your list.

Goals are also forward looking, motivational and have purpose. Longer-term goals should be shared with the team, so there is a unifying effort to find success.

Finally, effective goals are written down so they can  be evaluated regularly.

Effective long-term goal writing takes effort because when done properly, they are road maps for a destination you’ve chosen, not just somewhere you end up.

A Marketing Road Map

Marketing plans can be incorporated into long-term plans. When they are, growers often select a return on investment (ROI) marketing strategy. This is a simple strategy, but it requires knowing how much was invested — the cost of production. When a positive ROI is offered by production potential and the market, incremental sales are made as ROI targets are hit. These sales are much easier to make if the results are tied to a longer-term, bigger-picture goal.

For example: You know a 10% ROI on the first half of expected corn production will generate enough revenue for you to finalize plans to finance the purchase of 80 acres of farmland. Knowing that, and how the 10% ROI will help you grow your business, makes it easier to sell regardless of “outside noise” from the markets. That goal and desire to grow your business focuses your marketing efforts.

Obviously, a positive ROI is needed for this strategy, something that’s been fleeting in the grain markets recently, but positive returns have been available. If your marketing plan is incorporated into long-term goals that remind you of what can be accomplished if action is taken now, you are motivated to take that action.

One last thing about effective goals: Include a reward for achieving your goals. If the goal is to have the sprayer clean by noon, include a reward of family time later in the day. If the goal is to pass a healthy family business to the next generation, reward yourself by targeting a retirement date. Use these next few months to write detailed goals that must be checked off to make that happen.