There is nothing scarier for farm families who are trying to gain control over their lives than to have no clue about what the future holds.
I chuckled the first time I was asked over the phone if I would like the “senior’s discount” for age 55 plus. I remember thinking, “Wow…I now qualify for this! How did that happen?” This followed quickly with wondering what’s in my future as a senior.
As you begin to near some of these ‘milestones’ of aging, you begin to realize time has a way of slipping quickly by, something like the toilet paper roll that spins faster as it reaches the end of the roll.
Please promise yourself and your next generation farm partners that you are not going to sit idly by but will engage the power needed to take action.
Embracing Your Power for Action
- You are going to speak to your spouse about letting go of power and control of the farm, and what that might look like. This means taking your spouse out on a date to have fun, to engage in intimate conversations about what is keeping you awake at night. Then decide on the date for “becoming the hired man again.” I do not expect that you are ever going to retire, just “re-invent” yourself and your roles.
- You are making a date with your accountant and tax planners to discuss your net worth, your living costs, and your intentions to bring along the next generation. Remember that April 30th is always a deadline you honour with our accountant, so how about a deadline for farm transition? It is a process and may be a series of dates, not just one day.
- Action begets more action, so you are going to have coffee in a casual way with your family to talk about your dreams for the next new chapter in your life. This includes the farming and non-farm business heirs. Perhaps you can meet with each adult child independent of the others. Trust me; they are scared that you are not dealing with your future lifestyle choices, and they want you to enjoy the fruit of your labour. Have courageous conversations.
- Bedtime reading for nights that are short of sleep will include reference to my book: Do the Tough Things Right…how to prevent communication disasters in family business.
- Book some counseling time if you are emotionally distraught and need new coping skills. I am encouraged when coaching clients realize that “counseling is about recovery and coaching is about discovery.” Some folks need to have therapy to release the burden that is keeping them stuck in neutral. Take care of your mental health.
Here is the farming forecast for this spring:
Many aging, 55 plus farmers are procrastinating, and not sleeping well. There is a tug of war on their heart regarding their fear of failure. Should they turn things over gradually? What will their new roles be? Will anyone appreciate them when they get older or thank them for what they have helped to grow?
Face your fears. Talk with your spouse. Set dates. Act.
Then celebrate your family relationships and business success.
A giant orange pumpkin filled with crushed ice and glass bottles of Orange Crush pop is my favourite childhood birthday memory. My mom was also great at putting money in wax paper in the layered chocolate birthday cake and making black cat chocolate drizzle cookies. These memories did not cost a lot of money to create, but they did take time and intentionality.
Strong families celebrate! Think about how great you are going to feel when you embrace the power of target dates and timelines.
Take the time this spring to set target dates for action for your farm businesses continued success. Let your trusted team of advisors help you confirm what prices and money targets need to be proposed.
Just like my October themed birthday parties, I hope you get as much delight from your next generation’s feedback as we did when we discovered the quarters in the birthday cake. It is the small things in life that make a big difference. Don’t let the little foxes of family irritations spoil the vineyard of potential success.
Keep your promises. Honour the timelines and dates. Be concrete with your proposals. Then your entire family will sleep well at night, and be sure of their future.
Have a great life, don’t embrace fear, live intentionally.
Remember, it is your farm, your family, and your choice.