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How to move forward confidently in 2020How to move forward confidently in 2020

Three ideas for how to use last year’s lessons while moving on.

Darren Frye

December 30, 2019

3 Min Read
hand changing wooden cubes with year 2019 to 2020
oatawa/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Approaching the new year, many will take some time to review 2019 – whether personally, professionally or both. Most news outlets offer some sort of “year in review” at this time. Often, we do the same with our lives – thinking about the highlights or moments that stand out most, both the good and the not so good.

As you think about your farm business and its “year in review” for 2019, such an exercise might prove difficult. On average, 2019 was a very challenging year for most farm operations. It could be tempting to push it out of our minds altogether – chalking it up to a year for the record books.

A new view

I think the key is to take what we can from 2019 – in terms of what we can learn. You might come to a new understanding or lesson about yourself as a farm leader. Maybe you learned how you tend to react when the cards seem to be against you.

It’s important to consider this. If we refuse to think about it altogether, we’re actually missing out on what we can glean from a tough year and put to good use in the rest of our farming career, improving as a farm leader.

Some things may not have gone the way you wanted them to – or maybe it even feels like almost nothing did – but as you move on to 2020, here are three ways to use what you learned in the past year as a springboard to move forward confidently.

Three ideas

  1. Know you made it through. First, consider that you persevered during one of the most challenging years in farming in recent memory. Maybe you’ve been through challenges that you believe were harder than those of 2019, whether in farming or in your personal life. Challenge always seems to be a relative concept. Now, when you encounter challenges in the future, you can remember how you were able to persevere in the face of challenge in 2019 – and you survived. You’ve done hard things in the past, and you can take that with you into 2020 knowing that you’re probably even more capable now because of what you’ve gone through.

  2. Assess where you’re at now. It might seem tough to look at where the farm is at financially right now, but it’s key to have a good handle on the numbers as you continue to make plans for 2020. This might also be a good time to evaluate your process around marketing and merchandising plans. How were you able to adjust and adapt your plans as the markets and your farm’s situation changed? Were your plans flexible in the face of changing conditions? What do you need to look at for 2020? You can talk more about this with our market advisors.

  3. Think strategically for the future. During challenging years, thinking further into the future can become more difficult if you feel like you’re in “survival mode.” The farm’s leader and CEO must create a vision with the farm’s key stakeholders for where the farm is heading and then put steps in place to make it happen. Take some time this winter to re-evaluate your vision for your operation, if you’ve created one in the past, or work to get one in place now. Your plan will help guide your decision-making throughout 2020 and beyond.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

About the Author(s)

Darren Frye

CEO, Water Street Solutions

Darren Frye grew up on an innovative, integrated Illinois farm. He began trading commodities in 1982 and started his first business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting. In 1994 he started a consulting business, Water Street Solutions to help Midwest farmers become more successful through financial analysis, crop insurance, marketing consulting and legacy planning. The mission of Finance First is to get you to look at spreadsheets and see opportunity, to see your business for what it can be, and to help you build your agricultural legacy.

Visit Water Street Solutions

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