Harvest is in full swing on our farm, and I am not there…for a few days. Where is it written you cannot leave the farm during harvest? (Almost on every page of the unpublished book “The Culture of Agriculture.”)
If you are one of the 2800 folks who have stumbled upon “Finding Fairness in Farm Transition” on my YouTube channel at Farm Family Coach, you already know I am on a mission to change mindsets in agriculture. Fairness is helping everyone in the family be successful.
Enter Scott Armstrong and his new workbook: Mind Switch Retirement Planner.
Armstrong is a speaker friend who shared his insights at a national financial planner September convention in Niagara Falls, the place I also journeyed to at the start of our September harvest. He uses the word “retirement”, for ag folks I prefer to use the term reinvention:
Here are some things to consider as you age on your farm or ranch:
- What are the current roles you want to continue? Which ones would you like to let go of? My farmer is coughing more after cleaning bins, and I am encouraging him to quit that task at age 65, which is now.
- Are you still passionate about farming? Or just parts of it? Simon Sinek says, “fulfillment comes when we live our lives on purpose”. What is it you are doing on your farm where you lose all track of time? This summer I think my farmer lost track of mowing fields and ditches and waiting for the grain to ripen. I love to play with my grandkids and enjoy their giggles, stories, and curiosity. Play me with them is a sweet spot and I am intentional in making time for them. I am still passionate about helping farm families make intentional choices for a better quality of life and harmony through understanding.
- Do your passion and purpose align with your spouse’s vision? This is where it gets messy. You want to leave the farm life roles and responsibilities, but your partner does not. Not for a long time! Where is it written you cannot pursue some things in different time zones or days apart from your spouse? Independence is one of my core values, yet my husband respects what I need to fill my well, and I am happy when I return to the farm from my off-farm contracts and contacts. Love and respect for the other can go both ways.
- Adventure is big on Scott Armstrong’s workbook list. Farmers spend a lot of money on crop protection and other inputs. Many use the points from farm credit cards to fund short-term winter adventures. One of my clients is on a motorbike in the Maritimes as I write this. (Dairy farmer). Another farmer spends time in Mexico helping the poor build houses in the winter, and he wants to do more of this. Our adventures to visit friends in New Zealand, or travel with friends to Hawaii have been great times of renewal. Perhaps there is an ag tour you have been putting off. The GREAT PAUSE showed us how isolation and lack of adventure can really cramp our style, but we now have options. The most recent adventure for folks in our circle has been electric bikes. They are great for checking fields, riding down the Turtle Mountains to Boissevain, and going for a quick spin before supper. What is the adventure you have been putting off?
- Vitality is an energy we all want more of. Armstrong is convinced we are only using 50% of our body’s capacity. Our wonderful physician Dr. Nell shook his finger at us 5 years ago saying “Look you two it’s time you started having some fun. At 75 it all starts to fall apart!” This year I’ve shed some weight via the app “NOOM” and am working on a better morning fitness routine. My friend, a cattle producer at age 68 does lots of stretching and 40 minutes on her elliptical every morning. She makes time for lots of hiking adventures and ensures her body is in great form. Armstrong has a great list of sleep hacks to have more renewal time.
Your body is not a machine. Save money now by paying better attention to your health and making small habit changes to be healthier. Be kind to your brain and get off your devices long before bed. This will not kill you, and your marriage may be better off for the pillow talk without blue lights flashing from your cell phone or iPad, or TV.
- Finances: The number one encouragement I have is to find a good financial planner who can guide you with your income streams and personal wealth as your farm assets keep growing. CAFA which is the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors has great advisors in their directory who understand the culture of agriculture and the challenges of debt servicing and the need for personal wealth options. See www.cafanet.ca.
- Living Legacy: What do you want people to say about you BEFORE you die?
I hope you have a wonderful 80th birthday party where folks can tell you in their own words and stories about how your life really was a blessing to them. Do you want to be able to set your grandkids up for financial success? Can you help fund their RESP for trades or university training? Could you help fund the local arts and culture or sports foundation of your small town? Would you be able to secretly give a “leg up” to a struggling single parent? Having the time to walk alongside newcomers to your community and financial support can be a huge blessing to making your town a great place to age gracefully. We live close to one of Manitoba’s most beautiful small towns. The new bakeshop owner is now making sourdough bread with wheat head designs, plus great peanut butter marshmallow slices. This news may not excite you, but it is becoming a destination attraction. Sometimes it is the ‘little things in life” that make a day sweeter.
- Social times. Armstrong surprised me with his challenge to question who your friends are and why. Post-Covid relationships look different, and you may be navigating the loss of long-time or childhood friends. Intentionally make a list of the folks who align with your purpose and plans for growth. I’ll still a big fan of calling my far-away friends to keep relationships growing, yet I also know having tea in person is refreshing. I suspect the guys reading this are longing for more friendships beyond the farm gate. What are you DOING about it?
Find out more about Scott Armstrong’s fun, practical workbook at www.mindswitch.ca, and reach out to the Mind Switch community on Facebook. Tell him you are working on changing the mindsets in agriculture, one family at a time.
Grab your copy of the Roles Storyboard to help you understand your 6 key roles – personal, couple, family, work (farm and off farm), friends, community.
Elaine Froese is happy to be writing at 30,000 feet again. Invite her to speak at your next ag event. She has 30-plus years of practical insights for farmers to have the life they’ve always wanted. One day at a time. Visit here or Instagram @farmfamilycoach and hit the Linktree bio. Send cards to Box 957, Boissevain MB R0K 0E0.
Did you enjoy How to re-invent your farm life as you age with Mind-Switch? You might want to check these articles out too:
Your Farm’s Emotional Tank Needs Checking
You are not alone
How to Love a Farmer