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Finding out what matters to you: how to redefine your success

4 min read

Have you ever thought about your definition of success? Do you have different expectations for your personal success than your agriculture operation’s success?

Creating a definition for success in the agriculture industry can be a challenging task, yet it’s an important one. A definition helps you plan, make informed business decisions and choose where to invest your time. All these pieces contribute to your state of mental health and well-being.

Success begins with you

Are the expectations you’re trying to meet actually yours or someone else’s?

A great place to start is at the root of your operation – you. What’s important to you? Be aware of the expectations you’re trying to meet for yourself and your operation.

Are the expectations you’re trying to meet actually yours or someone else’s? Following another’s values and expectations can leave you feeling unfulfilled. It may feel a bit foreign to think about what’s important to you. One way is to identify your core values. Think of core values as your thoughts or beliefs about how you prefer to live or who you choose to be. Our values often guide our behaviour. Take a look at your core values and then at your actions in daily life. Do they line up? Do your actions support your core values or take you away from them?

Set realistic expectations

Unrealistic expectations consist of two parts: comparison to others and the amount we try to accomplish. Many farm operators set their expectations by comparing themselves or their operation to others.

Rethink comparison. Comparing your own situation to others’ and being upset by this is referred to as ‘toxic comparison,’ and negatively impacts mental health. Instead, make comparisons to learn new information or business practices.

Revise your task list. The amount you try to accomplish can help or hinder by setting you up for success or failure. Have you had things on your to-do list for months or years? Examine it. Break down your tasks into realistic chunks to help set you up for success. Remove anything that’s been there too long – you don’t need those reminders to feel bad about a perceived lack of accomplishment.

For a list with positive impact, jot down what has to get done and can realistically be done in the morning. Cross off items as you go and identify what needs to happen in the afternoon. Creating opportunity for feeling a sense of accomplishment has long-term, positive impacts on well-being. It helps with motivation, confidence and self-worth.

Measure long-term success as well

Determining success also requires figuring out how to measure and look at results long term. Financial success may be measured by the dollars in your bank account but doesn’t reflect the amount of work, problems solved or learning you’ve done.

Measure your personal success separately from that of the farm. Perhaps your success involves your health, personal relationships and business relationships. Keep in mind that your learning and growth as a person contributes to your own success plus the success of your operation.

Redefine your success – a “how to”

1. What is important to you in your life? Write down what comes to you here.

  • What are your core values? Include as many values as you wish.

2. Is how you live or act in line with your values? For example, if a person chooses kindness as a core value but takes their stress out on their family through anger, yelling, or aggression, that person is not living or acting in line with their values. It is important to be aware of the areas in your life where your actions or behaviours are not in line with your values. This is called incongruency, and it negatively impacts mental health. When you’re not living in line with your values, you may not feel so great about yourself.

3. Think about the expectations you have for yourself or your operation. Where did those expectations originate? Whose are they? Are those expectations realistic?

4. Write down your to-do list. Recognize in the agriculture industry that our to-do lists are cyclical. You may find you have a similar to-do list for each high production season. A possible time-saver is to keep those annual to-do lists tacked up somewhere so you can just add to them and not have to recreate or remember items each season. For example, the same items need to be remembered for each branding day. Save time by having one list that you add to.

5. Who do you compare yourself or your operation to? Is it helpful comparison (you learn and grow by comparing) or is it toxic and makes you feel bad about yourself or your operation?

6. Think about how to measure your success in the long term. Write down the times that you problem-solve or overcome something difficult. Keep track of things you’ve learned throughout the year. Take note of evolving relationships. Track how you’re feeling and your state of physical and mental health.

From a Rooted in Resilience article by Cynthia Beck, MSc. candidate, clinical psychology.

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