This article will come out in early 2010. Times have been difficult in the cattle business. There are some indicators of better times ahead but no one knows how long before things improve, how large the improvement will be or how long the improvement will last. I believe we are masters of our own future. The decisions we make will largely determine our future. We live in one of the best countries in the world. Sure, times have been challenging, but there is also unlimited opportunity. I believe we can create the future we desire. The time to start is now.
True success which includes sustainability requires that we attain balance and success in three different areas: people, land and money. With this in mind I want to offer 13 suggestions for thought and action in 2010. I hope this list will help you create the future you desire. If you don’t like my list make your own. The important thing is to realize that life doesn’t just happen, we create our own futures by our thoughts and actions. What actions are you going to take to make 2010 a good year?
1. Make a plan for personal growth. The only tool we have to create the future we desire is us. If we don’t grow and become better individuals can we expect our future to be different than our past? Most of us spend lots of time and money improving our other resources. How much time and money do you spend improving your main resource… you? Time and money spent on personal growth will likely be the best investment you will ever make. I suggest reading some inspiring books, taking some courses to improve your knowledge, skills and abilities and associating with positive like-minded people. I think you will be pleased with the results.
2. Strengthen your marriage and your family. Most of our happiness and success comes from good relationships. Two of our most basic needs as people are to love and to be loved. Remember that love is a verb not a feeling. To be loved more become more loving.
3. Write a goal. There is tremendous power in having a written goal that clearly describes what is important to you and what success looks like to you. Your goal should be based on your values and principles. Involve everyone on your team in developing your goal.
4. Choose to be happy. Unfortunately many people think happiness is out there… when I have more of whatever I will be happy. The reality is that happiness is inside of us. It is a choice we can consciously make each day. Once we realize that happiness is a choice is there any reason not to be happy every day? Abraham Lincoln said “most people are about as happy as they choose to be.”
5. Manage your land so that the fertility increases each year. Is your land more fertile than it was 10, 20 or 50 years ago? If not will it be possible to achieve long-term success?
6. See your animals as tools to improve your land. Manage them accordingly.
7. Improve the water cycle on your land. In most places rainfall is the limiting factor. An effective water cycle can greatly improve your utilization of whatever rain you receive. Are you using your management skills to create an effective water cycle?
8. Operate from a profit paradigm not a production paradigm. Put profit before production. Realize that high production and high profit are not necessarily linked.
9. Pay yourself first. Determine how much profit you would like to make. I define profit as a return on your investment and a return to your management skills. This is after you have paid all your expenses including your living. Once you have this number plan to make it happen.
10. Do a financial plan for 2010. This should include a starting net worth, monthly income and expenses, a cash flow and an ending net worth. If you complete this and the increase in net worth is adequate implement your plan. If you aren’t satisfied with the results replan until you achieve the results you desire.
11. Manage your debt so that you are comfortable with your situation. Debt can be a real killer. If you are in this situation, deal with it. Do what ever it takes. Look at all the possibilities.
12. Reduce your investment per cow.
13. Consider changing enterprises. For example should you sell weaned calves, backgrounded calves or long yearlings? Look at your own numbers, make a wise decision.
A wise old rancher once told me “it isn’t the bad years that get us in trouble, it is the good years.” In good times it is easy to let our expenses rise so that our profit isn’t as large as it might have been. Often we take on debt and then when there is a downturn we can’t manage the debt and we are in trouble. Use these challenging times to develop a low-cost profitable operation. When times improve and you can be sure that they will, continue with your low-cost profitable management and enjoy the increased profits. I wish you success in creating the future you desire for 2010.
Don Campbell ranches with his family at Meadow Lake, Sask. He can be reached at 306-236-6088.