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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Jan 4, 2018

Today we’re going to get into some strategies that help us to create focus for building a business, the farm or the life we really envision. But before we get into goal setting, let’s first walk through a sure-fire formula for how to ensure you DON'T achieve this year’s goals. I call this the...

1. Spend lots of time visualizing what it’s going to be like once you’ve achieved your goals. This may seem counterintuitive, but in truth your brain has a hard time telling between fantasy and reality. If you spend a lot of time imagining what life’s like after your goals are achieved, your brain can be fooled into thinking they’ve already been met, destroying your motivation to really reach your goals. Instead, focus on the WHY of the goal, which then becomes the motivation.
2. Let other people set your goals for you, or choose goals you think others would approve of. The Endowment Effect shows that we put a higher value on things that we own or have chosen for ourselves. When others choose your goals, they have much less psychological value to you and won’t create as much motivation or energy to get them accomplished. If someone else must put priorities on you, be sure to take time to explore those priorities and figure out why they should be important to you. In this way, you can build up that psychological connection to the goals, which will in turn bring motivation.
3. Select outcome-only goals. When you focus on only the outcome, you fail to realize that what’s important about a goal isn’t what it is—it’s what it does. If you set a goal and reach it, you’re done—but you’ve unnecessarily limited your potential. If you set a goal and instead focus on how and what you’re going to do on a daily basis to achieve it, then do those things might find yourself surpassing that goal where you would have just stopped before.
4. Keep your goals only in your own mind. Don’t write them down or leave reminders. Don’t tell anyone about them. If you want to achieve goals, having reminders can be a big help. Writing something down helps us cement it in our minds. Telling others about your goals means they can check in with you now and again to ask how it’s going, which can be another help to keep yourself accountable.
5. Never consider any of the hurdles that might show up as you pursue your goal. If you don’t take time to consider the various challenges you might face along the way, you’ll be slower to respond when they do. And they will. If you’ve prepared yourself for those eventualities, your brain will be more flexible to meet challenges with more energy for creating solutions when they do arrive.

Put goals not just into your business life—use them all over various aspects of your life. In Modern Farm Business episode 22, (“ Four reviews for your farm business”), one of the structures I discussed was the Leader Life Review, which comprised six different areas of a leader’s life: relationships, health, business, spiritual, family and personal. Wildly successful author, salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar famously defined seven steps of goal setting:
1. Identify the goal. Describe the goal clearly, and write it down. This creates a deeper meaning versus simply making a mental note.
2. List the benefits. Think: “Why am I doing this?” The answer is your source of motivation for putting in the effort to achieve the goal.
3. List the obstacles to overcome. If it’s worth doing, there will be challenges. Getting the obstacles down on paper helps you cope with them later.
4. Identify the skills and knowledge required. We grow and learn as we pursue goals. You might not currently have all the skills or knowledge required to achieve this goal. Identify what it’s going to take to meet the goal. This helps close the gap between things we know & things we do.
5. Identify the people and groups to work with. Others can provide assistance, experience and accountability to keep us on track. People love to share what they’ve learned and will be happy to help you pursue your goal.
6. Develop a plan of action. How are you going to achieve this goal? What are you going to do each week? Where should your progress be at any given time?.
7. Set a deadline. This moves us away from “someday” thinking (“Someday I’m going to do X”) which self-enables us to keep putting things off until later. Setting a deadline creates accountability and forces us to work backwards from a set date.

Remember, setting a goal is not about perfection. If you don’t make the goal, it isn’t a failure. It’s about what the goal does, not what it is. It’s about focusing our attention, pushing our boundaries and challenging our skills to continually get better.

My challenge to you: In the new year, pick a couple of things you’d like to accomplish. Use an approach like this one to help you focus on the goals. Stay adaptable as you get new information. Change happens, and pursuing your goals is just as much about growing ourselves as it is about the goal itself.

We always welcome your feedback at Modern Farm Business Podcast. Do you have suggestions for future episodes, or questions on something we’ve already covered? Drop Dean a line at He’ll look at each email personally and respond as quickly as possible. Thanks for listening!