It’s been a rollercoaster growing season already. Between this spring’s weather, markets, government policy debates and global and national events, the operating environment can feel very unstable.

When farm leaders are facing uncertainty through elements like a wet spring, drawn-out planting season and ensuing weather market, it can create a rollercoaster of emotions.

Under the influence of so much anxiety and uncertainty, emotions can end up taking the driver’s seat. They might direct your decision-making perhaps more than you’d like, or at least get a bigger say than usual.

You can recognize this happening if you’ve found yourself thinking something like, “We have to get our entire crop in the ground this spring; we’ve never failed to get a crop in the ground before,” or “The market has to go higher. There’s just no other possibility.”

Take these three steps to help get your thoughts back on track.

Step 1: Realign with reality — First, it’s time for a reality and fact check. Sometimes we may believe things to be a certain way before looking at numbers and other fact-based information.

But after reviewing our operation’s numbers through financial analysis, we might find that in our situation, we may want to make a different decision than we had initially thought.

Our emotions can, at times, lead us to believe things that simply don’t have any actual basis. Information is power when you’re dealing with uncertain situations combined with strong emotions, when you still need to make smart business decisions.

Step 2: Take a step back — When you’re dealing with a stressful situation, stepping back to look at the bigger picture of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it can help provide some context and perspective to the decisions you’re facing in the moment.

Considering “why” you do what you do as a farmer and thinking about some of your big-picture goals for your operation can help in making better decisions in the moment, because you’re in touch with what you really want in the long term.

Step 3: Get an outside perspective — When anxiety, fear or regret enter the decision-making process, thoughts can become a bit more difficult or unclear. It’s smart to get a trusted, knowledgeable advisor who can help by bringing a third-party perspective.

Sometimes that person can help us recognize and get clear about our own emotions during a stressful time. That way, we can see how that’s impacting our decision-making.

We can then choose to make decisions based on our operation’s numbers, solid information and our goals for our operation.

Problem-Solving Process

In addition, here’s a very basic, two-step approach for a simple problem-solving process you can implement across your operation, from yourself as the leader to those working in your operation.

Step 1: Talk about the problem with the right people — It may seem obvious, but failing to bring a problem to the people who need to know or who can help with a solution is the No. 1 reason key problems in farm operations aren’t getting solved.

In considering this for yourself as a farm leader, think about who you may need to talk with when a problem comes to light on the farm that could benefit from some outside advice or perspective. They may be able to bring up some new angles as you figure out the best solution for your operation.

Step 2: Make a clear, detailed plan to solve the problem — If a problem is brought up and discussed carefully, but no solution plan is put in place, you’ve wasted time.

Make sure your problem-solving time is spent efficiently by always putting a clear plan in place, that includes who is going to do what, by when.

A relatively “easy” problem might require just a couple action steps written down to discuss with and assign to an employee. A bigger, more complicated problem might need a meeting with an advisor who specializes in that area. They should meet with you to discuss your operation, goals and needs and then create a plan.

One area that can benefit from this process is around creating and executing marketing and merchandising plans. You can talk with our market advisers today about how to get these plans in place for your farm business.

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