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Start your New Year’s resolution now

Whether it’s in your personal life or your cattle business, there’s no reason to wait to start new behaviors.

Doug Ferguson

December 15, 2023

7 Min Read

We all know New Year’s resolutions don’t work very well.  I believe the reason why is simple, based off my personal experience.  We make up our minds that on a target date we will change our behavior.  The problem is the time in between the moment we made the decision to improve and the targeted start date.  During that time, we do whatever we want.  The behavior during that time is like giving our new goal the finger.  We are stacking small daily losses during that time.

I am guilty of setting target dates in the past to change certain behaviors.  The new behavior patterns never stuck.  Admittedly many times I may not have even begun on the target date.  I would rationalize some excuse.  Rationalizing is just rationing lies to the mind.

The times when the new behavior pattern stuck is when I started at that very moment.  I quit drinking on a Saturday.  It was the 8th of December.  I didn’t wait until the new year, and I haven’t had a drink in five years.  I quit chewing the same way.  It was a Thursday and when I came in for lunch that day, I decided I was done.  No weaning myself off, or a target date.  I decided I needed to get in shape and lose some weight on a Friday night.  The next morning, I got up earlier and went for a run/walk.  I didn’t wait until Monday to start.

When we decide to change something and improve ourselves, and we begin immediately, we give our goal a high five.  When we begin immediately, we start stacking small daily wins.  There is no rationalizing or excuses, there are only positive actions, and we feel better.  The feeling better part reenforces the behavior.

If there is something you are planning on improving or doing in 2024, don’t wait, start today.  Your odds of making is stick go up and you will also have a two-week head start on the new year.

On the podcasts I listen to I have heard interviews from personal trainers and life coaches.  They all have a different philosophy and approach to how they handle each client, but they all seem to agree on this one thing.  The clients who are trying to level up in business, leadership, or make more money also improved their fitness at the same time. 

That just makes sense to me because it is the simplest to accomplish.  It is also one that requires discipline.  Getting up and going for a jog in the morning instead of hiding behind the “I’m busy” excuse, followed by a healthy breakfast starts the day off with a few wins.  This momentum carries over into the rest of their day.

One of those trainers shared a story about a client that was a CEO at a large company.  After their first few sessions together the trainer was blown away by how hard this new client was working in the gym.  He asked her about that and her response was “everyone expects this kind of output from me at work”.  And she carried that level of intensity with her in everything she does.  It reminded me of one of the things my greatest mentor shared “how you do a thing, is how you do everything”.  So, if we are going to do something we might as well be excellent at it.

Here's where I am going with all this.  We have all seen and heard the differences between being a professional and an amateur.  The pros get paid to play and the amateurs pay to play.  If you want to make it to the getting paid level, then that’s fine.  It probably won’t be as much fun as you hope.

My third year riding bulls I was going to get really serious.  I was going to fill a pro card and make amateur circuit finals.  This meant I had to make money.  I kept a notebook and wrote down all the money I was spending on fees, fuel, gear and so on.  I was also keeping track of my winnings.  I was more conscious of those numbers than I was my riding percentage.  By mid-summer I tossed the notebook because it was clear I was not making a circuit finals.  I kept entering rodeos but now my focus was on the things I needed to work on as far as my riding goes.  A strange thing happened, I started to have fun riding bulls again. 

As I began to level up riding I noticed something.  Some of the guys were always talking about the next level.  Most of those that were talking about it made it to the next level.  They were focused and driven to get there and did what they needed to do. 

I can also tell you that new levels bring new devils.  You know that you are leveling up when you begin to encounter new and tougher challenges.  We have to grow through these storms and pass the test to reach the next plateau.  Most people do not face these storms, they will retreat back to where they were.  That is their comfort zone.

Another thing I noticed about the guys I competed against that went on to become world champions is that they had a different mindset.  They would ask the question “can I be as good as a past legend” and their answer was always the same no matter who it was “I don’t know but lets find out.”

These guys weren’t trying to get paid to play.  They had that in the bag.  They were trying to see how high they could set the bar.  How far can they push themselves to go.  Getting paid to play is not the end, it’s just another level, on the way to excellence.  If you are in this cattle deal and you want to leave a legacy you will have to go to a level that is higher than paid to play.  Don’t wait until New Year’s to get started, you must begin today.

Market report

In the feeder markets this week I would call it fully mixed.  Some weights were up at one sale and then the next day those weights were down.  This of course did a goofy number on the Value of Gain.  To put it into words I would say the feeder market is tip toeing through the mud looking for dry ground.  Grass and wheat calf buyers are proudly making their presence known. About the only thing consistent this week is the south held VOG above cost of gain up until the cattle weigh seven to eight hundred pounds.

The little bit of cash trade there was in Nebraska this week was lower and those fats were terribly under-valued to feeders.

I took in a female sale this week that was close to home.  There were a few small groups of bred heifers that brought $3,000.  The thing is there were no volume buyers.  There were a bunch of buyers that only bought gooseneck loads.  This kept the price up.  It kinda drives the point that we must learn to love small producers. 

Many of the bred heifers that sold were heifers I got out bid on last year.  When looking at the averages of each breeders consignment the return on their money was small, and that is if they got a return on their money.  Technically by definition they caught some appreciation value.  The sale average is right at what they have invested in them.  There is a big difference between a return on the money and a return of the money. One gets us into the paid to play category and builds wealth.

Being a sell/buy marketer it is clear to me that they can not execute a good prosperous trade by buying back open replacement heifers.  These heifers may be experiencing a huge roll back but they are also overvalued to breds.

The bell curve is something  we need to be careful talking about because it doesn’t always exist, and the five year old and out plan was a bust too.  3 year old to 8 year old cows brought $100 less than the bred heifer average.  In fact there was no noticeable depreciation until the vet called them short solids and they dropped a couple hundred dollars in price, then took another drop when called broken mouth. 

The biggest influence on price was stage of gestation.  She has to calve before the corn planter and sprayers begin to roll. And the other thing was what they were bred to.

Over all I would say the buyers were optimistic.  We are still in a severe dry spell and most of the ponds do not have any water in them.

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