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Holistic Ranching: Goal setting

herding cattle on a pasture

Holistic Management is a decision-making process. It is designed to help us make better decisions. The idea is to make decisions that are simultaneously socially, environmentally and financially sound.

One definition of HM is: how to care for your people, improve your land and make a profit. There it is, in a nutshell. When you look after the people, the land and the money you haven’t left anything out. When you stop and think about it, the only possible way to be sustainable and successful in the long run is to care for all three areas. If we do anything less, it is just a matter of time until our businesses fail.

A logical question at this point might be: how exactly does HM do this? The process begins with goal setting. All the people involved in the business or family work together to form a holistic goal. Since each individual has an opportunity to contribute, the goal is meaningful to each person, not just some nice words on a piece of paper.

The holistic goal is not meant to be accomplished. It is meant to give guidance and direction over a long period of time, comparable to our personal north star. As such it should account for our desired quality of life, forms of production and future landscape.

Quality of life: This portion of the goal should ask, what morals and values are most important to us? What do we hold dear? How do we treat each other? What does success look like to us? What type of character do we want to display?

Production: This portion of the goal defines, what are we going to do to create the quality of life we desire? Many of us are not used to thinking that we need to do something concrete to create our quality of life. Somehow we think a good quality of life will just happen. I don’t believe this is true. We have described the quality of life we desire. To create it we will need to set aside time for communication, time for family and friends, time off etc. This step allows us to see that life is more than work. Our time management will need to reflect this.

The second part asks us: What are we going to produce at a profit to allow us to meet our financial needs? Here we will list various enterprises that we might have in our business. At this point it is important to stress profit not just production.

Future landscape: This portion of our goal first asks us to describe our farm under ideal conditions in 100 years. Here we might describe a healthy well-functioning ecosystem.

The second question asks us to describe our local community under ideal conditions in 100 years. Here we describe what we hope to see not what we think we will see.

Our holistic goal is now complete.

At this point things become really interesting. We begin to make decisions that will move us towards our goal. We begin to spend our time, talents and money in ways that will help us create the future we desire. Life is no longer happening to us. We are now in charge. We have been empowered. We are creating the future we desire. This is a true definition of success.

There is tremendous power in goal setting. I invite you to consider goal setting in your life. I think you will find it beneficial. Many studies have been done. People with a goal tend to fare better. People with a written goal do even better. A family or a business with a written goal does the best.

We live in the best country in the world. We have unlimited opportunity. We all have the potential to create the future we desire. Goal setting can help. I wish you success.

About the author


Don Campbell

Don Campbell ranches with his family at Meadow Lake, Sask., 
and teaches Holistic Management courses.



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