There’s nothing scarier for farm families who are trying to gain control over their lives than to have no clue about what the future holds. As a coach, I call this “ the pain of not knowing.”
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 going to engage the power of target dates, timelines, and action.
One of the most powerful phrases you can start using is “By when?” “By when can we block time for our lawyer’s appointment to update our wills? By when can we meet with the financial planner to have a clear idea of our future income streams as we step back on this farm without stepping away?”
1) 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 don’t expect that you are ever going to retire, just “re-invent” yourself and your roles. Look at Dick Wittman’s powerful webinar from Ag Excellence Conference 2021. Just google “Stepping Back without stepping away. Dick Wittman.”
2) 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. If you are not sure you can do this on your own, hire a coach with great communication skills to keep the family meetings safe and respectful.
3) 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 your accountant, so how about timelines for the farm transition? It’s a process, and maybe a series of dates, not just one day. The key dates are nailing down your income streams going forward with a financial planner. My planner helped me see my income streams until I am 102. The tactical decision-making of your accountant and lawyers comes after you have clarity of expectations from all family members, and a sense of their timelines. For example, “By when dad do you expect to let go of being the main manager? By when mom do you intend to let go of book-keeping? By when daughter do you want equity in this farm business as the successor? “
4) 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 the family business.” My audible book “Building your farm legacy” is a handy companion for learning while you do mundane chores. Click here to check it out. Download the Ultimate Decision Maker tool here. We’ll get you started in assessing the key roles you want to keep and those decisions you want to hand over to your successor.
Psalm 16 (NIV) says “I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” I truly believe that “the wise counsel God gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart”. (The Message).
What messages are feeding you and kick-starting you to act?
5) Book some counseling time if you are emotionally distraught and need new coping skills. I am encouraged when coaching clients to 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. Check out the resources of the National Farmer’s Mental Health Alliance here.
Here is the farming forecast :
Many aging, 55-plus farmers are procrastinating, and not sleeping well. Farm folks are struggling with anxiety and depression. There is a tug-of-war in their heart regarding their fear of failure. Should they turn things over gradually? What will their new roles be? Will anyone really 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.
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 to set target dates for action for your farm business continuance success. Let your trusted team of advisors help you confirm what prices and money targets need to be proposed. You have some tough conversations ahead as your farm heirs cannot afford to buy your land. (Check out my YouTube video “Finding Fairness in Farm Transition”)
Block time on your google calendar now and start taking the next step. You need thinking time to decide what you want.
You need to be in alignment with what your spouse wants.
You need to share expectations and be clear with your adult children and their spouses.
Dates and money.
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 certain of their future.
Have a great life, don’t embrace fear, and live intentionally.
Remember, it’s your farm, your family, and your choice.
Elaine Froese and her coaching team have tools to help you act and keep moving forward in your farm transition journey. Visit here.
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