The start of a new year is always a popular time for setting goals and intentions, but really there never is a bad time for divining purpose and plotting your course!
Having a concrete plan is the best way to accomplish large tasks – and not many tasks are larger than “homesteading”. One overarching lifestyle goal, but a million ways to live it. Livestock, gardening, clean eating, self sufficiency…so many skills to work on. There are as many homesteading paths as there are homesteaders. We all have our own set of personal goals and dreams for what homesteading looks like to us.
If you are new to homesteading or have been at this for decades, hobby farmer or serious off gridder, everyone will benefit from setting homestead goals and reviewing them often to keep you on course. If you are new to the homestead lifestyle and need some inspiration on possible goals or how to get started, click here to check out my post Homesteading for Beginners.
As the calendar flips to a new year, I have been reflecting on the last. This has been a very emotional and draining year for me personally. My oldest daughter got married and we threw a large wedding for her. Our next oldest graduated high school and started college. My mother-in-law was called home to heaven. For several months we considered moving and seriously looked at homes, even putting a few offers in, until things fell through so many times we took it as a sign that the timing wasn’t right. I was focusing on growing my soap business and was pretty overwhelmed (in a good way!) with keeping up. So I don’t know that I have ever been as excited to pull a year to a close and start fresh!
I know many people pick a word to set an intention for the year and this year seemed like the perfect year for me to start this. My intention word is Renew. I am ready for the new, to look at things with fresh eyes. This helped me figure out the goals I wanted to accomplish in various areas of my life & farm.
Setting your homestead goals
I always like to start the year by setting goals for myself in several categories – personal, family, work, wellness, and homestead. Pick the 5-6 areas in your life that are the most important to you. For each area, I limit myself to 1-3 goals depending on how big the goal is. Remember you are setting goals in several areas so don’t go overboard in each category!
There are literally hundreds of homestead things I’d like to get done but I have to rein myself in! You still need to tend to personal & other growth – life is all about balance. Set goals that are attainable both in their scope and amount. Setting too many goals is only going to frustrate you, make you give up, and feel like a failure. If your goal seems too big for one year, try breaking it into smaller goals and just concentrate on the first part this year.
You can’t just write out a wish list and hope it comes true though. Let me show you how to turn that wish list into reality!
Step 1 – Pick Your Goals
Of course, these should be things that are important to you. Things you will be motivated to get done either because they need doing, you enjoy doing them, or they will get you closer to another larger dream.
These are my homestead goals for this year:
1) I will learn about beekeeping & make decisions on if they are right for us and make a beekeeping timeline. I have been talking about bees for years, it’s time to make up my mind!
2) I will build a new chicken & duck coop. 7 years ago when we built our coop we had no idea what chickens needed and our coop is not as functional as I would like. Our current coop is also much too small for all our birds further complicating the functionality.
3) I will renew my passion for gardening. Last year was so crazy, something had to give, and that was my garden. It was sorely neglected last year and a source of stress instead of joy. I will be smarter in choosing plants to maximize our harvest with things my family will eat to eliminate wasted food and feelings of wasted time. I will take steps to protect fruits from animals so we can enjoy the fruit, not the birds!
Take a look at how I have written my goals. First off – they are written. Write your goals down! It’s powerful in itself to move that thought from your brain to paper. Post it where you can see it often. Make a goal board with visual pictures of what you want to accomplish. Whatever works to keep your goals front & center! These are great motivators and reminders.
I also used positive, empowering language. “I will learn about beekeeping”, not “I would like to learn about beekeeping” or “look into beekeeping”. It might seem silly but it is your first commitment to your goal. You have told yourself you WILL do this! Add a small motivating sentence. Why is this goal important? Why should you care? Pretend you are telling your goal to someone and trying to justify why it is worth your time to accomplish it. Your time is precious, don’t waste it on things that don’t enhance your life.
Be specific about your goals. My goals for the garden aren’t simply “garden more”. Of course, I do want to garden more this year. Weed more, water more, enjoy the garden more. But there are specific things I want to accomplish. For the past few years, I was focusing on growing lots of kinds of plants for the fun of it. I loved the big variety, but then I end up with a lot of small harvests that don’t really work for my big family. We had too much waste waiting for 1-2 plants to produce enough to harvest a serving for 6-7 people. So I want to grow more family favorite plants with less variety this year to see if it fixes the waste problem. Last year, my fruit trees & grape vines were finally old enough to start producing a decent amount and we ended up with zero fruit because I didn’t protect them from birds or bugs.
Step 2 – Make a Plan & Schedule Tasks
Ok, now you know what you want to get done, but how does it happen? What are the steps needed to accomplish each goal? Break each goal up into smaller tasks. Then add those tasks to your calendar. You can go old school and use a wall calendar or day planner or go high-tech and get a calendar app for your phone. You can have the app send you email reminders or notifications so you can’t ignore it. Without scheduled tasks or deadlines, you are likely to procrastinate and keep pushing it off until “later”. It feels great to be able to check off these smaller tasks, getting you one step closer to your main goal! Here is my homestead goal task plan for this year:
GOAL 1 – Beekeeping
Sign up for the beekeeping class with my local beekeeper’s association.
At the completion of the course have a family meeting on beekeeping to discuss if it is right for us
If we decide to move forward, draft a timeline (Will we do it all this year? Will we gather supplies this year and get the bees next year?)
Add beekeeping timeline to calendar
GOAL 2 – New Coop
Draw up a plan for a new coop
Make material list & price out. Try to salvage what we can from old coop & scrap pile
Order building supplies
Set up the foundation area
Weatherproof the new coop
Fully dismantle the old coop
GOAL 3 – Garden
Draw up a garden plan with more family favorite foods
Research natural ways to protect the fruit from birds & bugs
Draft fruit tree, bush, & vine care schedule for fertilizing & netting
Set reminders to weed & harvest the garden weekly
Step 3 – Follow up with yourself!
Sometimes goals can change. Schedule time to check in with yourself. When you get down to the nitty gritty you might find your best-laid plans aren’t working out. Or maybe you continually ignore and procrastinate the scheduled tasks. At that point, you need to reevaluate your goal. Is it really important to you? How could you tweak the goal or the tasks to make them more manageable? Especially for goals that take several months to complete, it’s a good idea to schedule a time to review your progress and how best to move forward.
Most importantly, make time to congratulate yourself on a job well done! Whether that is the satisfaction of a realized goal or just some time to look back at how far you have, it’s important to take the time to recognize your efforts!