I’m sure you may have heard a farmer say, “Someday this farm will be his,” or, “Someday we will get to the lawyer’s office, but we have work to do!” My sister Barbara Edie wrote the headline, “Someday is not a day on my calendar” when she relayed the memories of an active 1988 spent with my other sister Grace who died tragically that year. Barb’s resolve was to never put things off, and not let “someday” creep into her thinking.
July on the farm used to be a great time for camping trips, visitors, weddings and stealing peas from the garden. Many folks today tell me that their July is now packed full of crop protection fungicides, off-farm work, and trying to find two or three nights off the farm. Folks hope to take time off “someday!”
The word procrastinate is formed from two Latin words — pro, meaning ‘forward,’ and crastinus, meaning ‘belonging to tomorrow.’ So, procrastination is the act of putting something into tomorrow and, of course, it suggests that it is always ‘in tomorrow’ — so never gets done (Hugh Culver, author of Stop Procrastinating Today).
Why do we put things off, special family times that we know only have a certain window of opportunity? Why delay plans to make our farm businesses healthier? My speaker friend Pierrette Desrosiers says that there are five main causes of procrastination:
- A lack of planning and vision.
- A rebellious spirit.
- A quest for adrenaline, liking to work under pressure.
- Don’t like doing a particular task, acting like a “spoiled child.”
My speaker friend Hugh Culver, believes, “You are not a procrastinator,” you always get more of what you focus on. He calls us to reframe our decision-making, and start developing better decision-making habits.
In farm families I feel there is a huge sense of overwhelm, so people get stressed and just shut down. When I show up as a coach we work to make an action plan that is realistic, to consider the steps along the way. For example, you know you need to update your will. First step, find the old copy. Second step, call the lawyer for a first appointment. Third step, talk to your spouse, and then book time to converse with your family. Summer is a good time to have some of these important conversations after family celebrations when you are just hanging out on the deck watching cloud formations.
Focus and execute was a mantra that caught my eye and has become a common expression for me. To establish a plan you need to think about what goals you want to reach. Break things down into steps, and work out the timelines for execution. Deadlines work for me. If I post them in my computer calendar, I can keep them top of mind, and move them along. The reward for me as a writer to meet deadlines is that I get paid! What rewards can you build into the projects that you are avoiding?
- From the Country Guide website: Reward yourself
One summer the junk i.e. steel, augers, etc., needed to be removed from our bush. Wes encouraged all the employees to participate in the load-the-flatdeck project. Each employee’s reward for this “not so fun” cleaning job was to have the money from their load, a little added incentive not to keep stashing old equipment in the trees.
Take the first step. Make the phone call for an appointment with the painter, lawyer, carpenter, plumber, doctor, etc. Moving it out of your brain and starting to take action will beget more action.
Perhaps this is the summer you have determined to look better in your bathing suit.
This would be an ongoing project for me. My girlfriend Wendy said, “Elaine you have written books, you are smart. You will start to lose weight when you decide it is important enough!” Don’t you just hate it when your friends tell you the truth?
Decide to let go of perfection and just start the project. Weight loss is a classic procrastination issue, and farmers who are riding equipment, eating saskatoon pie with lots of ice cream, and avoiding their doctors can relate to feeling bad about not dealing with their health.
Culver suggests that each decision is either doing or avoiding, much like a scale. I am stepping on the scale, so I know my weight is not good, but what I am avoiding is tracking my portions. I also should be avoiding pie with ice cream!
“SHOULD.” Counsellors use a term, “don’t should on yourself.” Rather than saying, “I should talk to my son and his wife about their vision for this farm,” say, “I am going to start having conversations about what is working for our family farm team, and what needs to change.”
Think about what time of day you have the best energy to do the hard work. As a writer, I like to have a two-hour block of quiet time in the mornings. Once I get “in the zone,” I don’t answer the pings of my texts or the phone. What would it look like if you took 90 minutes this morning to tackle a tough project that you have been putting off?
Would it help to have a buddy? Our seed plant office had a lot of mud this spring after eight inches of rain and lots of traffic. When I started to try to find the floor, it did my spirit and energy level a lot of good to have a cleaning buddy. My mom always used to say, “many hands make light work.” Sometimes the work we are avoiding may be more fun with a team approach. I haven’t been able to convince my family on this one with weeding the garden, but start that kind of training with young children and you may have better results than I did! You might also just need some better tools for the job, like a tiller, a hedge trimmer, or a dutch hoe.
Stephen Covey wrote about doing the urgent things, not the important things. Take some time this summer to develop a “rallying cry” to getting things done. Let me know what project you completed, and I will send you a copy of my e-book Planting the Seed of Hope. A reward for you!
Have fun with your family this summer. Don’t put that off!