Some of you who took the last column to heart may have attacked your farm offices to tidy them up, get organized, and now have a beautiful space to work in. January is typically the month when we are encouraged to pick new goals, write them down, and be transformed with new habits.

For 2011 my theme word is “pacing”.  I had help with this one this time as my farm coach friend Mandi McLeod from New Zealand was visiting our farm in November. She knows my work, my passion to serve farm families, and my tendencies to work too much.

Pacing to me means being really clear on what is important, and being able to leave the rest.  It is understanding that each new day is a gift, and sometimes you have to allow for divine interruption. There’s a soothing quote from a professor’s door that Tim Wiebe presents in his treasury, “Let us be firmly resolved to serve God with our whole heart and life, beyond that, let us have no care about tomorrow. Let us only think of living today as well as we can. Then, when tomorrow comes, it will also be today. And we can apply the same philosophy for another 24 hours.”

I’ve printed that encouragement out, and it sits in the front of my day timer as a constant reminder to pace myself, one day at a time.

When I speak to farmers they tell me that one of their greatest barriers to doing succession planning is the sense of being overwhelmed. My turning point technology clickers allow the farmers to answer privately what their deepest concerns are as they click answers that are compiled into bar graphs on the screen.

Overwhelm can mean: “1. overpower with emotions usually followed by a sense of; 2. being overpowered with an excess of work, responsibility; 3. bring to sudden ruin or destruction; crush; 4. bury or drown beneath a huge mass, submerge utterly.”(Canadian Oxford Dictionary)

“Emotions, excess work, sudden ruin, drowning.”  Are these the factors that are keeping you stuck in denial with a deep sense of overwhelm?  Pierrette Desrosiers, a clinical psychologist who works with farmers, suggests that 80% of farmers’ decisions are based on emotions. ( If you are feeling very negative about 2011 could it be that you are caving in to a sense of ruin, and haven’t had a talk with yourself about your emotional state? The weather issues of 2010 have left a legacy of financial stress that needs to be addressed head on. Now is not the time to crawl under a bale and hide from your lenders and creditors.

Communication is key. Talking with yourself, your spouse, and your creditors is highly important if you’re are going to prevent overwhelm from shutting you down.

The excess work factor also needs attention. Are you working at things that are causing you to go backwards financially? What tasks do you need to address to get your finances in order? Who needs to review your books, cash flow and balance sheet in order to gain a sense of control?

Farm men who are strong, independent entrepreneurs tend to pull back and isolate themselves when they sense they are drowning in stress. It is difficult to ask for help. There are people ready to throw you a life ring, if you call for help. It might be time to call the Farm Debt Mediation Service a 1-866-452-5556 to have some arrangements made with your creditors. Perhaps you need a visit to the doctor to check out if depression has set in, or a call to your farm stress line to vent your frustrations.

The sense of overwhelm is calmed when folks figure out that they can only deal with a few issues at a time. I encourage you to go to my website and download the key challenges audit which is found on the farm succession planning page. This is a starting point for figuring out what issues you need to be addressing on your farm.

If you are a workaholic you are likely working too much and wearing down your body physically. Tired bodies and brains don’t typically make great decisions. Could you find some time for renewal, a few days away from the farm, or spend time resting and relaxing rather than running to fix the next problem? Do you have a neighbour or family member who would be willing to help out for the short term, to give you a boost?

Finding out what your options are, and gleaning new information usually helps us take steps forward in our planning. Get a binder or folder where you can start collecting the ideas and questions that are keeping you awake at night. If you write things down, it is called a “brain dump”.  Once things are dumped on paper, your brain can relax a bit and focus on renewal. Saskatchewan farmers can work on the Taking Stock program with farm management specialists, while Manitobans can work on the Agri-Advisor program. Albertans can go to Reach out to extension programs that are put in place to help you deal with your business growth and planning.

Pat Katz, a specialist in helping folks deal with overwhelm says, “There’s no ease and there is no grace, when there is no rhythm to the pace.” (

She’s right. Go to Katz’s website and sign up for her Pause e-zine, a weekly reminder of practical tips to help you keep a better pace in your life, and decrease your sense of overwhelm.

It’s not fun to struggle. You don’t have to feel burdened alone. You can address your issues and avoid financial or relationship ruin. Take one day at a time. Don’t borrow worry for the future. Worry is a very useless emotion. Seek out advisors and options. Communicate with your family, farm team and creditors.  Shift your behaviour with pacing, and taking the next step, one step at a time.

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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