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Make These Lists to Get Your Year Off to a Good Start

Another year has come and gone and now comes the time for all of the resolutions to be made for the New Year. Folks resolve to lose weight, quit smoking or dipping, cut back on their drinking, exercise more – you know, the standard stuff that will be forgotten by the end of January. This is not an indictment of the folks who are trying to quit or change habits that they know are harmful to health and pocketbook. And I would guess that most of us in this livestock business get plenty of exercise most of the year.

I reckon I will never make a New Year’s resolution. I guess I’m just not smart enough to understand the concept. If I want or need to change something in my life why do I need to make a resolution? The way I hear it most folks who start the New Year off by making a resolution keep it about 3 or 4 weeks and then just forget about it. So I really don’t see the point. Either I’m going to do it or not do it even if I resolve to do it. Does that make any sense?

For example,in the late 80’s I decided, after 20 years of doing it, to quit dipping snuff. There was no warning from a doctor or dentist or anything of the sort, I just had this gut feeling that it was time. I had made a couple of half-hearted attempts before but had failed. But this time turned out to be a success. But believe me the struggle was one that I do not wish to repeat, I have never done anything that was as hard to do, even to stop drinking. I guess what I am trying to say is that all of the formal resolutions in the world will not make any difference at all until you have made up your mind that you can do it.

Try This Instead

The start of a new year is also the time that all of these lists come out, you know – the best, the worse, the most popular, the least popular, the winners, the losers.  Most of us take the importance of these lists with a grain of salt as to their value. But there are lists that are very important that most of us choose to not spend enough time on or ignore completely.

Consider making a couple of your own lists.

1. The list of the things that worked last year, and the things that didn’t work for whatever the reason

I will readily admit that some of the best decisions that I have made have been the spur of the moment kind, but to be fair some of the biggest and most costly mistakes have also been spur of the moment. By writing down what worked and what didn’t work, I can at least keep myself from repeating mistakes. I can also build on the things that worked.

2. Strong points and weak points

I know this is old hat for some people but one of the ways to start a new year is to make a six item list. Write down what you think are the three strong points of your operation and the three weakest points. As simple as this may sound it can point you in the right direction as to where you should be spending your time, money and energy.

I’m not talking about fixing the gate that drags or changing that bad tire on the stock trailer. There is without question a need to do those things. I’m talking about doing the things that can improve the overall management of your outfit: moving a gate to improve stock traffic, extending a water line to make it possible to improve grazing management in a pasture, or maybe building one more fence in that big pasture to enable you to gain more grazing days across the year. These are the improvements that can have lasting effects on the outcome year after year.

Finally, take some time to plan.

It matters little in what part of the country we live in, or if our outfit is big or not so big. We can all be guilty of neglect, and get caught up in the day to day work and, without some planning, find ourselves involved in too much crisis management. So, if you are going to make any New Year resolutions make one that includes the time to sit down one day and just do some real planning for the New Year. I’ll bet that if you do, this time next year you will realize that it was some of your best work of the year!

We have plenty of articles on goal-setting and planning. Use the search tool to find them.

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Don Ashford
Don Ashford
My name is Don Ashford and my wife is Betty and we live in Ethel, LA. It would be impossible for me to write a bio about myself without including Betty in it. We have been together since high school. I was in the senior class of 1955 and she was in the class of 1957. Do the math. We have raised cattle since 1959 except for a little time that I spent with Uncle Sam. We have grazed stockers, owned several cow- calf herds and custom grazed cattle for other folks. I worked as a pipefitter for more than 25 years. Until we went into the dairy business in 1977 we were as most people down here part-timers or week-end ranchers. Later after we had learned enough about MIG to talk about it so that it would be understood by others we put together a pasture-walk group to introduce it to our friends and neighbors. We belong to more farm groups then we probably should but we get great joy working with other people. What makes us most proud are our son and daughter, our 5 grandkids and our 7 great-grand kids. It has been a hell of a trip so far, but we are not done yet.

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