I currently can’t breathe when I walk outside…
That’s what below zero temps and crazy wind chills will do to ya.
Thankfully, even though the outside portions of our homestead are deep in hibernation at the moment, I have plenty to work on inside.
When I recently mentioned some of my favorite end-of-the-year rituals on Instagram, it prompted some interesting discussions around the things we do to set ourselves up for another 365-day stretch.
If you’ve ever struggled to set goals (that actually happen) for your homestead or future homestead, I made a video just for you.
We’ve been homesteading for almost a decade now, setting lots of goals, doing lots of projects, and have definitely figured out what does and doesn’t work. In this video, I’m sharing my best tips and practices that I use every single year to make sure our homestead goals turn into reality.
How to Set Homestead Goals You’ll Actually Achieve
(Keep scrolling if you prefer the written transcript version instead of the video!)
1. Keep Your Goal List Manageable (aka Don’t Go Crazy)
Don’t get me wrong: I love audacious goals, and dreams and big thinking, and we’ve been known to do some pretty crazy stuff, but I also know from personal experience that putting too many goals, or goals that are too big, on your list can not only cause you to feel scattered and overwhelmed, but can also cause you to feel really frustrated when you’ve been working your butt off, and then, only find yourself a quarter of the way through your list.
Make sure you have some quick wins built into your goal list so you can really feel that sense of accomplishment, which at least for me, is the very best motivator to keep going. The definition of manageable will really differ from person to person, but for us, I found it works best to break up our yearly goals into four different categories, and then, pick three to five specific goals, more than that in a minute, for each category. The specific categories that I like to set goals in are:
- Family and Personal
- Our Homestead
- Our Blog/Online Business
- Our doTERRA Business
The exact number of goals YOU set will depend on your situation, and it’s totally okay to go lighter in one area so you can focus elsewhere. We’ve done that many times.
Example: Last year I put way too many projects on our homesteading category of goals, and then come June when we were knee-deep in the middle of a huge yard remodel, and it was kicking our butt, and I realized it was gonna take the majority of our summer and the other things weren’t going to happen, I was really, really frustrated.
To remedy that from happening this year, I’m writing down a much more realistic list that I will be plugging into the calendar ahead of time so I know exactly how many months, or weeks, or whatever I have partitioned off for each homestead project.
2. Don’t Forget to Push Yourself (Great Things Never Came from Comfort Zones)
If a goal feels super safe, and comfortable, it’s probably not gonna be enough to really create the growth that you need. My rule of thumb is to keep expanding a goal until you feel a flutter of butterflies in your stomach. That’s usually a good sign that it’s enough to push me out of my comfort zone to get the development and growth that I’m looking for personally throughout that goal process.
3. Make Your Goals Specific and Measurable.
I’m guessing you’ve heard this one before, but it really is crucial– I promise. Vagueness in setting goals is not your friend. It might feel more comfortable at first to have a broad target to aim at, but what you’re really doing is giving your brain just a million ways to skirt around doing the work, and that will absolutely prevent you from taking a hold of that goal, and making it come alive.
Measurable just means that you’ll have a clear marker to know when that goal has been reached. It’s really easy to write something like cook more on your list, but what does that really mean? And, you need to break that down.
In order to set yourself up for the maximum success, clearly define each goal to make it attainable for your situation. Rather than putting “cook more this year” on your list, try putting down specific action items such as “bake a loaf of bread each week”, or “learn how to make homemade broth.”
Do you see how the first goal felt really lifeless and vague, but the second one felt more alive with purpose and meaning? That’s exactly the same sort of feel that you’ll want to create in your own homestead goals for this year.
4. Write, Date, and Tell!
Every time I say this, someone argues with me, and says, “I don’t like writing goals down. That’s not how my brain works. I like to go on spur of the moment. It feels just scary.”
I get it–promise! But if you’re really serious about making your goals a reality, you’ve gotta get serious enough to write them down and give them a due date. There is something just magical about putting something on paper. I don’t know what it is, but it works.
It’s crucial to assign a date to your goal, and it doesn’t have to be a super tight deadline, but the human brain takes action the best when there’s an element of urgency, or some sort of date attached. Also, when you speak your goals out loud, it gets it out there in the universe, and not only can the person you’re telling help to hold you accountable, but when it comes out of your lips, you tend to take it more seriously as well.
5. Break it Down, Then START.
Even if you set the very best goals in the world, and spend all sorts of time making them just right, none of them will work unless you put this next tip into action immediately. You gotta start, and yes, it’s usually the hardest, and I wish I could tell you some magical tool, or secret sauce that would make starting just as easy as pie, but guess what? If it was easy, then everyone would do it, and they don’t. Do they? But, you will.
My best tip here is to START FAST. Do it before your brain can talk you out of it, and have all those excuses bubbled to the surface. It is the hardest part, but once you get that momentum going I promise it gets easier and easier. I still struggle with this, a blank page, an empty piece of bare dirt, a barren garden plot.
They all tend to make me feel a little bit stressed, and a little bit paralyzed. It’s really normal. What I’ve learned to do is to never demand any sort of perfection from myself on Day One. The mission on the first day is to simply get something, anything started.
I might hammer some words out on paper without punctuation, or spelling just to get it out of my brain.
I might map the garden out on paper, and then, get my first round of seeds ordered.
I might research the materials I need for our next building project, and then, put them on a supply list, or maybe even call the building store, and get them shipped and coming my way.
(That time we ripped down a million old pheasant pens on our property)
The first step does not have to be epic, or magical, or special, or perfect. It just has to be something. If you do something on day one, when you come back on the subsequent days, you’ll find it gets easier and easier.
Lastly, remember: it’s okay to be flexible in your goals. Sometimes plans shift and change, and you gotta give yourself some grace. There has been many years where our epic list of projects just didn’t happen the way I wanted to, and I had to be okay with it. The only thing is, promise me that you’ll be honest with yourself, and know the difference between procrastination, and just flexibility, because there is a difference.
A Few of Our Personal Homestead Goals for 2019:
ONE: Redoing our pens and corrals. Our homestead theme for this year is refinement. We’ve done a lot of construction, a lot of building, a lot of creating, and some of those systems worked really good when we first put them in 8 or 10 years ago, but they’ve stopped being efficient and productive, and so, we’re going back into some of those places that we built awhile back, and making them better.
The first element of that is our pens and corrals. We have a cattle chute and a few alleyways, but when we built them, we didn’t understand how the cattle would best flow, or the most efficient way to work them. The plan is to redo all of our cattle handling facilities this year so they’re safer and more efficient.
TWO:Building a Milking Parlor
I’ve milked out in the open barn on the cement pad for a long time. It worked fine at the beginning, but I’m ready for a more efficient system. I’m tired of dealing with mud, or a big sloppy pile of manure, or the horses chasing the cow around every time I try to milk. It’s just not working anymore.
I’m ready for a designated milking area that I can keep more sanitary and organized. I need a place where I don’t to wrestle manure or the other animals, or whatever.
We have a few other areas of the homestead that we’re working on improving and refining this year, but we’re keeping things fairly simple as compared to some years in the past, since we have some other projects in the works that will benefit YOU…
…Like our very first cookbook which launches in April and makes me so giddy that I’m almost speechless. There will be many sneak peaks and LOTS of bonuses and freebies coming along with its official launch, but for now here’s a sneak peek of the cover.
Alrighty my friends: your turn! What homestead goal are you most excited for in the coming year?
TJ Dellinger says
So sorry you are cold. Louisiana is having our wet season, rain and warm, mud and the animal pens stink…but my collards and arugula are awesome, the onions and garlic are brilliant green spears.
A horrid rogue squirrel ate the hearts out of every radicchio and lettuce and my large ancient horsey pulled the cabbages out of the ground and left them to die because she hates cabbage. Then she ate all my parsley. I think my radish babies floated off during the last round of heavy rains. I am not entirely sure: they were 3 leaves each at Christmas, now they are gone. I think squirrel-proof bed covers and strict rules about leaving the horse in the yard are my goals for this year. Can’t do much about the rain. Thank you so much for the option to read this. I prefer reading to videos!
Jill Winger says
Sounds like some garden protection is definitely high-priority for you this year! 😉
Pam Veith says
this spring/summer I need to get the berry patches enclosed with pvc pipeframes and cheesecloth covers. All the perimeter fence (sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It’s only an acre.) needs 2 strands of electric fencing wire replaced on the high side – along the interior of the fence either perennials, raised beds for garlic or onions, or prep for annual flowers…this will save me from having a messy fence line due to my dislike of weedwacking as well as use the land I have more productively. Those 2 things will probably take most of the summer to complete unless I can start during nice days this winter. So far Western MA hasn’t had a lot of really cold weather and it is most appreciated.
Jill Winger says
Ah yes, gotta love fencing! It’s never-ending, huh?
I want to revamp our chicken house so I just got your check list! And I want to master XXL cinnamon rolls. I started a gratitude journal for my husband I will present to my husband on his birthday in November. I write something everyday. I also will be reading something daily about our starry sky to be able to name atleast10 constalations, hopefully more!
Jill Winger says
The gratitude journey idea is so neat!
I did the same thing for my husband during one of my pregnancies. I was such a grump all the time, I decided to write something I appreciated about him or that he did each day until his birthday. 🙂
P. S. Thank you for the library!
I don’t have a homestead, well if you want to call my 1/4 acre lot a suburban homestead, I guess one could. I’ve decided to do a lot of minimalist goals in clearing out items that we don’t need/use anymore. Last growing season I simplified my gardens down to items that we would eat and use throughout the winter and will do the same this year.
My main goal is to minimize what we’ve accumulated over the 32 years we’ve been married. That in itself is a daunting task but doable. Thanks Jill for this article/video for setting goals. Keep on keeping on!
Jill Winger says
I would definitely call your 1/4 acre lot a homestead! And I hear ya– clearing out/purging is a lot of work, but feels so good.
Why is weight loss always on my list of goals for the year?? Because I never do it- and yet it is important to me- I’d feel and look better!! So that’s one personal goal for this year- also redoing several rooms in my home and adding to my raised bed gardens:))
Jill Winger says
I think that is absolutely fabulous, Laura! We just put in a small home gym, so getting in better shape is also on my list for this year. <3
Linda S says
My first goal is to sneak in your barn & rustle that precious calf! No, no, I’d never do that but that is the cutest thing ever! Thanks for the kick in the fanny; time to get going!
Jill Winger says
LOL! They’re pretty hard to resist! 🙂
My goals seem rather vague, yet they are specific. Expand the garden this year (I tried a new gardening method last year, and only grew tomatoes, so this year I am adding beans, peas, and herbs specifically, thinking about adding onions and potatoes. I would love to do more ‘permaculture’ type planting but since we rent, I am hesitant to make that investment). Go more ‘natural’ (I have already started using homemade soap, albeit bought from others. Using more essential oils for health, and looking to incorporate them into cleaning items. Learning and using herbal remedies more often.) I’ve already started on both, timeliness, well, that’s another story. Obviously, the garden goals are dictated by my growing zone. I’m salivating over the seed catalogs, LOL! The ‘more natural’ goal has been a work in progress, I try to add a little more over time.
Jill Winger says
I think these are fabulous! It’s all about the baby steps!
Jo Murphey says
Hello! I’m a 30-year veteran of an urban organic homesteader (1 acre) and three into a hobby farm/homestead (organic and self sustainable) at 60 years young and disabled. I’m excited this year about adding fiber and dairy goats to joining our meat and fiber rabbits, and chickens(meat, eggs, and chicken t.v.. We add no livestock until we have a thorough understanding of care and a home for them. Our livestock plans include Baby Doll sheep and American Guinea hogs within the next 5 years.
I’m a firm believer in deep research prior to the addition of any livestock, and they MUST pay their own way in feed and care ( as food, offspring, or fiber production),
I started with a 5 and 10 year plan. I broke it all down to yearly, monthly, and even weekly (garden) to dos. I’m about a year behind schedule, but I don’t stress. I’m in it as a life long vision- not as a got to do it now venture. God willing, I’ll get there.
Jill Winger says
I love your perspective Jo– it truly is a life long vision!
Marylin Famosi says
So happy you gave the option of reading vs video. I am not a fan of videos and prefer to read. Please keep doing that!!!
Jill Winger says
Thanks for the feedback Marylin– super helpful! I’m planning on having transcripts for the majority of my upcoming videos. 🙂
We’re shivering right along with you up here in frozen Quebec! Thanks for the great tips about goal-setting, I’m in the process of setting my 2019 goals and you’ve reminded me to be realistic but ambitious, and to ensure that my objectives are specific and measurable. We’re 1/4 acre, urban “homesteaders”, but nonetheless, here’s my homesteading goals for this year:
1 – Grow enough veggies and herbs to keep my family of 4 out of the grocery store produce aisle for the summer, with some left over to preserve for the looong winter months.
2 – Finally master carrots! *Why* do carrots hate me?
3 – Establish some fruit/berry plants – raspberries or currants
4 – Level up my preserving skills/equipment, and really get my root cellar stocked
5 – Get the kids more involved in the garden
6 – Our town just recently launched an urban chickens pilot project, and we’re seriously considering our own little coop next spring
7 – Share the journey on my blog
Jill Winger says
I love this Jess! I think you are right on track!
Michele Phillips says
Excellent video. I also read the transcript. I like doing both because it is good to hear you talk about the subject. I get more from reading but I still like both. Thank you for all your work to educate and enthuse us. We’ve somewhat divided our chores. My daughter milks and cares for the goats, her oldest cares for the chickens and ducks, my husband builds whatever we need and I do the gardening and mowing. But we all help each other at various times, too. Shiloh Homestead.
Thank you so much for sharing recipes.Great blog!!!
Such a great article! Little behind posting on here I guess but our big projects this year were finish our little green house (done). Improve our rabbit set up and get chickens. Then really just putting the finishing touches on some things that we got “done” enough to work but need some finishing touches.
I have 3 major goals I want to finish up this year.
1- finish the retaining wall to keep top soil in and crap grass out. It’s 1/3 of the way done. Then fence it to keep rabbits out.
2- finish downsizing a flowerbed. I wanted to bulldoze it out, but the kids say it’s a magical place.
3- finish the outside of the house: decorative stone to be put up, refinishing the deck and landscape the southern side of the house.
And if I’m really lucky, move or rebuild the chicken coop.
I can get all of this done, I just need to manage my time better. I’m not a happy person if I don’t have enough irons in the fire, lol.
Kayla- Prairie Homestead Assistant says
Sounds like a great list of goals for the year, Lori! 🙂