Young Beef Producers Should Be Goal Oriented

Fodder for Thought

Set SMART goals and follow through, says Kentucky cattlemen's president.

Published on: March 7, 2012

For those in my generation getting into beef production can seem like a daunting enterprise, whether it’s possessing the capital to start their own business or just having the know-how to get things done. Groups like young cattlemen’s or young producers’ councils can provide a great avenue for young cattlemen and women to learn some of the necessary skills for success and build up a network of peers.

I’ve been fortunate to be involved with the formation of a young producers’ council here in my state of Kentucky. Last weekend we had our second official meeting during the Kentucky Beef Expo in Louisville. We were fortunate to have the current president of the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, Mike Bach, speak to us on a topic I think can help us all -- goal setting.

Whether just getting into the cattle business or if you’ve been in it for 20 years or more, setting and accomplishing goals is always going to be an important part of what beef producers do. The concept Bach referred to when goal setting was “S.M.A.R.T.” This acronym stood for five keys to achieving goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Be specific when setting goals. Specific goals have a much higher likelihood of being accomplished than a general goal. Don’t just say you want to own a cattle ranch; give specific details. Where will this ranch be located? When will you start this ranch? Identify any requirements or constraints that could stand in the way. And most important, give a specific reason, purpose, or benefit to accomplishing this goal.

Make sure the goal is measurable.

In order to accomplish something you’ll need concrete details so that you can measure your progress toward attaining your goal. To figure out whether the goal is measurable ask yourself questions. Examples of what you might ask could be, ”How much land will I need?” or “How many head of cattle will I be able to put on this land?”

Is your goal attainable? When you set goals that are important to you, you are more likely to figure out ways to make them come true. I’ve always gone along with the mantra “You can have anything you want if you want it badly enough.” In the end it comes down to how hard you’re willing to work to make your goals a reality.

Baxter Black says, “It does not take a genius, it just requires the persistence of a glacier.”

Be realistic about the goal. Choose goals that you are both willing and able to work toward. This can be a high or low goal but in the end, the reality of attaining it is the most important aspect. A high goal can sometimes be easier to accomplish than a low one because the lower goal doesn’t require much motivation. Some of the most difficult tasks to accomplish seem easier for the sheer fact that they were a labor of love.

Last, the goal should be timely. When do you want to accomplish this goal? Having a time frame or deadline then you have more of an incentive to work diligently towards your goal. No timeframe creates no sense of urgency.

In summary, the important thing to remember is if you truly believe your goals can be accomplished, they’re probably realistic. By equipping themselves with the right knowledge and skills, developing a network of reliable peers, and learning from those that have already been down the same road and possess a goal-oriented mindset, I think beef producers will be able to accomplish a lot more than anyone ever thought possible. In the end, the cattle business will be a better place for it.