5 New Year’s Resolutions for Women in Agriculture

If you don’t set goals, you don’t have a plan to move forward, right? Hence the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. The reason these resolutions often fail is because we set unrealistic goals. As women entrepreneurs, farmers and agribusiness professionals, we will always try and conquer the unconquerable!

Instead, let’s set goals we can reach if we stretch ourselves: goals that make us smarter, stronger or less stressed; goals that make us better both professionally and personally.

Here are 5 New Year’s Resolutions that every women in agriculture should consider for 2016:

  1. Become a better leader. One of the top challenges I hear often from women who farm or manage farm operations is a lack of leadership skills. For those of you who grew up in your family farm business, you may be faced with managing an employee who once saw you in diapers or as a kid running around in the hay fields! As a woman, sometimes the challenge of delegating tasks comes with additional issues related to age, sexism or even knowledge. Make a goal to shore up your leadership skills: attend a conference, read a leadership book (see my blog on best business books) or make a short list of things you can do to improve morale in the office.
  2. Tell your story. One area women in business excel in is communication. So why don’t we tell our business story more often? Is it that we haven’t practiced? Are we shy? Are we embarrassed? More than ever, agriculture needs passionate women telling consumers about the quality of their food and why we work in this field. The ag industry is in desperate need of “foot soldiers” who can talk about modern food production in positive ways. Make it a goal this year to talk to three new people each month about agriculture, about what you do as a woman farmer or women in agribusiness.
  3. Spend less time in the office. Most of the business women I know are overachievers. We work 60 hours a week and wear that number like a badge of honor. Yet spending every waking minute on work just means we are going to burn out faster. It also means we become more tired easily and can lose sight each day of why we are in this business of agriculture. We can become resentful. We lose our playfulness and our joy. If you work in a home office like I do, it’s all too easy to sneak back into that office at night and finish “one more task”. Let’s make a goal to shut the door at the end of good day’s work and spend more time on ourselves, family and friends.
  4. Hire the right people. Far too often we as women find ourselves doing the jobs of three employees, and once we decide to hire help, we hire the first breathing person we can find. It’s ironic that women tend to be more people-oriented, but we are often terrible at hiring! Hiring isn’t easy, but the right people in your business are worth the wait. As Jim Collins says in his famous book Good to Great: “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats”. The bus is your business. The right people will not only bring out the best in your future business, but also your current team. Note: this also goes for your personal life. The happiest, most productive business women I know also have a team of employees or contractors to help them manage their home (think cleaning and shopping). But hold out for the right people!
  5. Stay up on current business events. I am shocked by how many women in agriculture don’t read the daily news. How can you run a business without knowing what is happening in the world? Agriculture is keenly affected by consumer trends, both good and bad, and by world markets. I make myself read the Wall Street Journal every day – a habit I have kept up since I left journalism school in 1995. Even if I don’t have time to read a full story, I skim the headlines. If an agriculture story catches my eye, I rip out that page and put it into a folder for later “deep reading”. Then I pull out that folder every Friday afternoon. Read so that you have the insight to make informed decisions in 2016.

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