I wish I had gone to bed earlier last night instead of filing emails until midnight. I should know better since I need to get a really good sleep to stay on top of the daily demands of the farm. Vacuuming four shop vacs of water out of our waterlogged basement this morning only reminded me to be thankful for the dry years.
I have no idea what kind of summer you are having. It might be scorching hot and dry on your farm, or you might be having a forced sabbatical year like us. Very few acres to harvest, only 10 per cent of our land got seeded.
Regardless of your external circumstances, as your coach via this column I have the Hudson Institute’s 11 tips for staying power: ways to be self-renewing.
1. Stay value driven
Do the things that are important to you that align with your cherished beliefs. Filter out the information overload we all experience with the Internet, cell-phones, texts, twitter, Facebook, etc. and stay vitally engaged with your dreams and plans. For me this means showing up at my home office to meet writing deadlines, coach folks by phone and arrange new seminar dates. On the farm front it means appreciating the warm sun on your back as you complete the next chore with an attitude of gratitude that you will manage your way out of the mess. You might want to write a “thank-you” note to the folks who helped you with flood control or renew some ties with old friends. As you declutter the stinky basement, you might find some household items to bless a needy family or your local thrift store. Less is more.
2. Connect to your community and the global agriculture tribe
I love reading articles about successful young farmers and older entrepreneurs who are using creative business models. Our son brought home a bag of “Covered Bridge” chips, and then I read about the company inCountry Guide.We have tools to “Google” information and make connections around the world. Install Skype on your computer if you have high speed, and start conversing with folks Down Under.
My New Zealand coaching friend connects with me on Skype and we encourage each other. The Internet was also a useful diversion for my husband during the incessant rains during “normal” seeding time. We ended up with a piece of equipment to increase the fun factor of our camping adventures.
3. Spend time in your quiet chair
I have a special comfy chair in the corner of my kitchen where I spend at least 20 minutes every morning to read, reflect, journal and pray. Finding time each day for solitude and quiet is a great practice to renew your body, mind and spirit. Some farm men go out with a cup of coffee on their decks to write out the action plan, or mind map their next project. This “using your noodle time” pays big dividends. When is the last time you just sat and pondered your life?
4. Pace yourself “Pacing” is my theme word
for this year, and boy did I not see the “slow down to a screeching halt” coming in January. We had no idea that we would have to have a mindset shift to farm weeds instead of seeds this year. We are going to manage yard projects and the unseeded fields, but we also plan to have fun camping, going to celebrations and finding a different pace this fall. Have tea or coffee with someone you respect for their sense and ability to control pacing and life balance. Put what you learn from them into practice. Go to www.patkatz.com to sign up for Pat Katz’s weekly encouragement to “pause.”
5. Get outdoors to let nature soothe you
Have a picnic on the tailgate of your pickup. Nature for farmers is part of their daily routine. When the water roars or the frost boils swallow semis, it is not fun. When the sun is shining, and the birds are singing, and you actually notice the orioles on the yard, then nature is renewing. Don’t forget the parks and fun spaces in your backyard or municipality. When folks from Toronto walk down my lane they exclaim “the air here is exquisite!” Get some fresh air mixed with fun activities, or make play out of your haying work. The other day when I ground a smiley face into the gravel on my two-mile walk, I looked up and actually saw a huge “smiley face” in the cirrus clouds. I took a photo with my iPod, and thanked God for the reminder of His care for me, even in the tough times.
6. Be creative and playful Give your inner child more freedom to be. This might be sports, volunteering at the fair, or dancing your heart out. Play with children and blow bubbles this summer at the beach.
7. Change is inevitable, growth is optional
We all need to adapt to change and be flexible. Many folks in Manitoba will be dealing with water issues all summer. We need to keep positive and help each other out. Farmers call other farmers for wisdom on how to manage the new scenario of no crop. Make the call. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance and create new ways of managing.
8. What do we learn from the “down times?”
I am learning to “lighten up” according to Peter Walsh’s book of the same title. He has a great “life tension audit” tool that I’ve adapted. Email me at [email protected] for a copy. Once we identify why we are in a funk and disappointed, we can learn from these experiences. Since I’ve been looking at my basement storage boxes on a daily basis since March, I don’t forget about them, and I plan to make several trips to the dump! Never underestimate your power to resist change. Process your feelings and resistance, then act!
9. Be a lifelong learner, always be in training
Self-renewing persons never stop learning. I read many books, and write notes while I read so that I can translate my learning for you as farm families. Last night I got caught up in the webinars that had languished in my inbox for too long. I write notes as I listen, or clean out my desk drawers. It’s best not to multi-task though, just focus on the insights of your readings and audio experiences. Start getting to know your local librarian, and use e-books and inter-library loan this summer. Your taxes have paid for this service, and learning new things might just be the jet fuel you need to get that next project launched. Money may be tight, but be creative to access learning sites and resources to inspire you. Trade books with your friends.
10. Lean into the future
A woman who was a self-confessed “planner” decided to “drop the oars” and let life happen. You might try that approach, yet coaches will encourage you to rehearse new scenarios for how the future might be, and choose the one you believe in. Plan by taking the “next step.” Beach time, and sitting under the shade of your favourite tree, might be the perfect spot to map out how you want to live your enthusiasm. If farming has got you down this summer, how are you planning to reignite your passion? For our family, having a young son, a potential successor to mentor, keeps us considering many of his creative ideas for the farm’s future.
11. Develop the leader within you
Be a leader of yourself first. Be clear about the internal factors that are helping or hindering your own personal growth. Lead your family. Lead your farm business. Connect with other leaders. Personal leadership is a natural outgrowth of folks who succeed at life.
ElaineFroese,certifiedHudsonInstitute coach,looksforwardtoseeingyouat theClearLakecampgroundthissummer. Julyishersabbaticalmonth.Visit www.elainefroese.com andseeherpastarticles onherblog.Bookherforyournexteventto encouragefarmfamilies.Enjoyyourfamily andberichinrelationship!