Sticking to your goals vs. go with the flow… or both?

And we’re off!!

After spending the winter enjoying the abundant snow here in Magog, we’re hitting the road… shifting into nomadic mode… #vanlife 😉 First stop: Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina (

Well, in fact, we were supposed to leave last wednesday, April 18th. We had set that date as part of the goal setting process (S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Based).

The thing is, last week rolled around and we just weren’t ready. It was Tuesday night, and there was still a long list of minor improvements we wanted to make to the van, our stuff wasn’t packed, and the house was a mess.

Goals are meant to bring us joy. The process of reaching for a goal is a playful one. Indeed, to take an example from sports, a goal is ‘the object towards which play is directed’… as in GOOOOOOOAL! By comparison, tasks bring you relief (as in completing your tax return is a task, not a goal). Thank you ACE for this great distinction (

So instead of forcing ourselves to achieve the goal we had set of leaving by april 18th, we realised that it would bring us much more joy to push back our departure date by a week… we have that flexibility, so we might as well enjoy it! Plus, it turns out the weather in North Carolina last week was really not great for camping anyways… and this week is going to be beautiful!

The key is to live intentionally, to make conscious choices in our life with full awareness. To be flexible with ourselves and to have the degree of self awareness and support necessary to discern between abandoning a goal out of fear vs. joyfully updating a goal to reflect the current YOU.

What goals do you have?

Are they S.M.A.R.T.?

Are the goals you have set for yourself in the past still pertinent today?

Do they bring you joy?

Paradigm shift for greater farm success and quality of life.

Someone much wiser than I once said, “If you want better answers, ask better questions.”

I love this! What I get out of this is the importance of being aware of what criteria are we solving for. If we set out to solve for “how can I make at least the bare minimum amount of money I need to survive from the farm while working however many hours in order to get it ‘all’ done?”… then that is exactly what we will go about solving for.

What if we asked a more empowering question?

What if we put our mental abilities to work solving for more interesting parameters?

Organic farmers tend to be a very smart and innovative group of people. I have no doubt in our collective ability to find solutions to whatever ‘problem’ is before us.

  • How can we earn a net income of 40-50K$ or more per farm owner while working less than 50 hours per week even in the summer?
  • How can I earn a sustainable net income of XYZ$ from the farm? (What would this look like for you? Cost of living, travel, retirement planning, your kids education… How much would you love to be earning from your business?)
  • How can we structure our farm so as to leave us feeling energized and available for the other areas of our lives?
  • How can we find balance between work and personal life?
  • How can we design a farm that does not depend on our presence to be operational?
  • How can I run a kick-ass farm and still be emotionally available to my spouse and children?
  • How can we take a 2 week family vacation in the middle of summer?
  • How can we eliminate weeds from the farm?
  • How can our farming practices be not only sustainable but regenerative?
  • How can we farm without relying on industrial animal manures for fertility (ie pelleted chicken manure… aka Acti-Sol)?
  • How can we create long term, fulfilling, well paid employment opportunities on our farm?

Now it’s up to you! What questions would you LOVE to focus your attention on?

Looking at this list, I find several questions that seem impossible to me. I wonder, “Am I being realistic? Am I setting the bar too high?”

The motivational speaker part of me (ahah, “part of me” = monkey mind symptom of fragmentation) says “hell no! Set the bar high and surprise yourself with what is possible. Every great discovery has come from the realm of the unimaginable… the unfeasible. Shoot for the stars, even if you don’t make it you’ll get to the moon”

The other part of me is saying “Don’t set yourself up for stress and overwhelm”

The thing is, I am grateful to be able to see this last paragraph as a monkey mind fest. The potential for feeling overwhelmed is always present regardless of what questions I am trying to solve… there is absolutely nothing about setting the bar low that guarantees less stress. The key is that regardless of what our goals are, we need to have the ability to release our dreams to the universe. To dream and envision an outcome while simultaneously accepting the present moment exactly as it is. Carl Jung reminds us that living with paradox is a fantastic part of the human experience.

Go on! Make a ruckus!

What empowering questions are you interested in solving?

How to plan your week in a way that nourishes all your roles.

Few people know it better than farmers… we all wear many hats!

Father/mother, spouse, you (ie. yourself…doing something just for you), friend, farmer, CEO/leader, marketer, bookkeeper, grower, plumber, carpenter, mechanic…. and the list goes on!

I used to regularly fall into the following pattern… focusing almost exclusively on one role until another role was totally neglected and couldn’t be ignored… then I would over-focus on that role for a while etc..

Of course this is normal, we are passionate people by nature. We dive into something wholeheartedly. But it doesn’t take much to shift this way of being towards a more balanced approach that nourished each of our different roles every week; or at least allows us to make the conscious decision to neglect one of our roles one week if that is our choice.

What are the major roles you play, what are your main hats? Think both in your private and business life.

I suggest that you plan out your week on Monday morning. List the various role that you will nourish this week, and make sure that you are doing something for each role every week. It doesn’t matter how small your action for each role is… just the knowledge that you are attending to even the more neglected roles can be a wonderful signal to yourself that all the facets of your life are attended to and advancing.

What is one action you are willing to take this week to nourish one of your roles that you have been neglecting?

Key Pillar of an efficient and effective farm: The Information Flow System

Alright! Let’s loop back to continue the discussion of the third leg of the 3S triangle.

I’ve always loved planning. The problem is that these ideas aren’t worth shit if they stay stuck in my head!

What I realised when I started the farm, was that no matter how clear the ideas and plans were in my head, I needed to be able to communicate them effectively to my wife for us to work as a team. This challenge was only exacerbated when we started having employees and the farm crew grew and took on more and more tasks that I had been doing intuitively.

I’m not saying anything new here…. we all know the importance of good planning, effective communication, and record keeping.

The thing is…the time has come for us to consider the flow of information as a cohesive and crucial farm system.

The information flow system is connected to all of the other farm systems. With a well functioning information flow, the farmers and farm staff knows at all times what needs to be done, where, when. In addition they have the means of recording for and communicating this information to the other members of the team. The recorded information serves to get all the staff on the same page, meets Organic or GAP Certification standards, and serves to refine the following year’s planning.

The information flow system is a cycle involving: planning, communication/implementation, record keeping, and data analysis/feedback loop.


This is where you get the ideas and information out of your head and onto paper. Key elements are: Crop plan, 2-3 year business plan, financial plan/cash-flow forecasts, fertilisation plan, clear and labeled farm map, and standard operating procedures for common farm tasks.

The idea is to shift some of the work from the busy summer months to the winter. The better our season is planned out during the winter, the more we can focus on the actual implementation during the summer


Now that you’ve go these plans onto paper… how are the people in the field going to access the information when they need it?

The key is to have the necessary information available right where it will be used. So…plastified charts taped to the wall in workstations, dedicated binders in the greenhouse, in the direct seeding action pack, on the tractor, etc. We need to be able to access it immediately, not have to go up to the barn/packshed to get it from a central binder…. or even worse.. running after the farmer to get some important detail out of her head.

The other element of communication regular crew meetings, and the use of written task lists rather than oral instructions.

Record Keeping:

Do not gather excess data! Record keeping takes time and excess data reduces the chances that any of the data will ever actually get used.

What questions are you seeking to answer?
What data do you need to gather in order to answer those questions?
What data are you required to gather for fiscal or third party certification processes?

Data that will be processed goes directly into a cloud based spreadsheet whenever possible to eliminate the need for data entry (which is a tremendous barrier to the data ever actually being used).

Record keeping materials (computer or paper) located directly where the activity takes place.

Keep a pen tethered to all paper based record keeping locations (a pen taped to a piece of baler twine and stapled to the wall does a great job).

Allocate time in the day for staff to keep records up to date: record keeping takes time and this time is profitable.

Data analysis

Ok.. so you’ve got all these records.. now what?

Records exist mainly to inform future decision making processes. To facilitate this we need to reduce the manual data processing as much as possible. Structure your spreadsheet based record keeping systems to automatically process data whenever possible. (Ex: Automatically calculate yields as you record harvest). Also, Structure your spreadsheets to be able to easily filter the data so as to be able to find the needed information for different purposes.

So… what next?

I invite you to get out a piece of paper and map out the flow of information through your farm systems.

Where are the bottlenecks?

Would the farm crew have all the necessary information to function without you for a week?

What would you love to do during your mid-summers vacation week? 😉