Make Expectations Clear and Attainable

This article was first published in The Journal  on January 7, 2019.

Welcome to 2019! With the first week of 2019 behind us, many people are declaring and acting on their resolutions for the New Year. While many of them will fizzle out before spring, some will hang on and really make a difference in the lives of the resolving individuals.

As a realistic optimist with a type-A personality, I struggle with New Year’s resolutions. I hope for the best out of every day and strive for it, but I also expect each day to come with a struggle of some kind. The greatest of which is probably accepting that my best will not always be enough to meet the expectations of the world around me.  In turn, I have high expectations for the people I interact with daily.

In some ways these traits are positive and in other ways very negative. It is good to work toward goals and accomplish them, but the path to accomplishment should not be self-destructive. The tipping point between the two seems to be whether my expectations or the world’s expectations are clear and/or attainable. If expectations are not communicated clearly, they will not be met. If they are not attainable expectations for the individual, they will inevitably fail.

How does this relate to agriculture in 2019?

We all are a part of a complex relationship with the people and environment we live in. We all have expectations and ambitions. When we are working together as a team (you and your partner/employee/colleague/livestock/equipment/landscape etc.) it is important to begin the task with clear and attainable expectations for each other. This can help avoid unexpected turmoil in the midst of a task.

For example:

Before you approach feeding your cattle another round bale on a muddy slope with your old tractor on a rainy day, say your goal aloud.

“I am going to get the cows fed.”

Then consider the limitations of your partner, in this case, the tractor.

“I realized that my tractor cannot perform at full capacity in the mud and rain on a slope.”

Then adjust your expectations and plan of action to avoid turmoil.

“I may need to feed this hay in a different place. It will probably take longer than normal, but my tractor and I will accomplish this goal together safely.”

Whether your partner is a person, an animal, a field of crops, or a piece of equipment, they all have limitations. It is not reasonable to expect peak performance out of your partner if they are being pushed to perform beyond those limits. The same is true for yourself. That is where we break down and the damage often takes longer to repair than the task we needed to complete.

I hope that after reading this article you will be more mindful about communicating your expectations clearly to your partners for success. I hope that you will consider their limitations so that your expectations are attainable. I hope that you will find peace in times of turmoil. Finally, I hope that we will eventually get a break in the rain before spring comes. We all need some time to recover from the muddiness that was 2018.

If you would like to provide feedback on the type of agriculture and natural resource focused programming you would like to see from Noble County Extension in 2019, please call me or email anytime at 740-732-5681 or Extension is here to help you meet your goals in 2019.