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Midwinter stress and financial management issues

I know stress and financial management issues are a hot topic and I often write about them, but I believe they are at the core of NZ agriculture and issues not many people want to talk about.

Managing your life, your money, your interpersonal relationships and your farm is no mean feat. Not only do I see it with my work, more than that, I have been there myself. I've been through a mid-life crisis and been depressed. You do recover! If, by writing about this, helps other people understand the issues then my time is not wasted.

Stress and financial management are intricately interwoven into our high stress farming occupation. Some of the issues are as follows:

1. Balance

Firstly, get a more balanced view of yourself. We need to understand that how we see ourselves I often not near reality. Karl Dibble, psychologist, tells me that the number one problem that we face is our inability to have a balanced view of ourselves. The picture we have painted of our lives may not be the reality; we see our own life through our own glasses. What we believe and what we see or perceive to be, may well be far from the situation.

Some farmers work hard to create a lot of wealth because that's how they perceive, or maybe even want, their neighbours and friends rate them. This is only part of the equation. The reality is if you are tired, grumpy and selfish this attitude and persona will far exceed your perception of yourself.

2. Plan time off

More than that, be realistic about what you can achieve in a day. I recently wrote about calving being a marathon, where you must prepare and train for it and ensure you take break. If you are working long hours maybe it's time to think about catnapping. Lie down each day and allow your batteries to recharge, because if you run your body on empty, it will eventually run you flat. Being overworked and exhausted all the time can also contribute to mental health issues.

3. Communicate

Communicate with your partner, kids, staff, suppliers and bankers etc. Do not shut down and go down the back of the farm when things get tough, it is not a solution. If you are feeling overloaded find someone to talk to, chances are they will be worse off than you. I'm now a great advocate for calling meetings. I have regular meetings with my wife; it sounds mad doesn't it? - but it works. Call a meeting with your whole family, call a meeting with your advisors. The first time you might feel a bit awkward but after subsequent meetings you will be wondering why you haven't done it all your life.

As my mentor tells me, "Don, it's all common-sense and communication" when you think about it he's right.

4. Realistic expectations

Have realistic expectations of yourself and others, and remember perfectionists find life very difficult. You are not perfect and nobody else is either. We often set ourselves up to fail with that sort of expectation. Unrealistic expectations flow right through to your personal relationships. Look for the good in people and build on that point. Not everybody is good at everything. We all have different characteristics, different strengths and weaknesses. For example I have very poor attention to detail, subsequently I have to be very careful with the decisions that I make and employ three personnel that balance my strengths and weaknesses to suit.

5. Don't panic

If start flying to bits, and they will, don't panic or worse, fly off the handle. Take a big breath, pause, think up a solution and then act to solve the problem in a logical and steady fashion. Likewise, encourage your staff to problem solve correctly.

6. Money Management

Finally, be careful with your money management and do not spend money that you don't have. Avoid Hire Purchases unless the item is essential and affordable. Control your money; getting income to well exceed expenditure is an essential part of any farming business. Failure to do so in the current economic climate could see you in trouble. The important issue here I believe is that New Zealand is going through big change in the financial market and second tier money may not be as easy to find in the future.

In summary, realize you are heading back into that high stress period. I know stress and financial management issues are a hot topic and I often write about them, but I believe they are at the core of NZ agriculture and issues not many people want to talk about.

Managing your life, your money, your interpersonal relationships and your farm is no mean feat. Not only do I see it with my work, more than that, I have been there myself. I've been through a mid-life crisis and been depressed. You do recover! If, by writing about this, helps other people understand the issues then my time is not wasted.

Stress and financial management are intricately interwoven into our high stress farming occupation. Some of the issues are as follows:

1. Balance. Firstly, get a more balanced view of yourself. We need to understand that how we see ourselves I often not near reality. Karl Dibble, psychologist, tells me that the number one problem that we face is our inability to have a balanced view of ourselves. The picture we have painted of our lives may not be the reality; we see our own life through our own glasses. What we believe and what we see or perceive to be, may well be far from the situation.

Some farmers work hard to create a lot of wealth because that's how they perceive, or maybe even want, their neighbours and friends rate them. This is only part of the equation. The reality is if you are tired, grumpy and selfish this attitude and persona will far exceed your perception of yourself.

2. Plan time off. More than that, be realistic about what you can achieve in a day. I recently wrote about calving being a marathon, where you must prepare and train for it and ensure you take break. If you are working long hours maybe it's time to think about catnapping. Lie down each day and allow your batteries to recharge, because if you run your body on empty, it will eventually run you flat. Being overworked and exhausted all the time can also contribute to mental health issues.

3. Communicate. Communicate with your partner, kids, staff, suppliers and bankers etc. Do not shut down and go down the back of the farm when things get tough, it is not a solution. If you are feeling overloaded find someone to talk to, chances are they will be worse off than you. I'm now a great advocate for calling meetings. I have regular meetings with my wife; it sounds mad doesn't it? - but it works. Call a meeting with your whole family, call a meeting with your advisors. The first time you might feel a bit awkward but after subsequent meetings you will be wondering why you haven't done it all your life.

As my mentor tells me, "Don, it's all common-sense and communication" when you think about it he's right.

4. Realistic expectations. Have realistic expectations of yourself and others, and remember perfectionists find life very difficult. You are not perfect and nobody else is either. We often set ourselves up to fail with that sort of expectation. Unrealistic expectations flow right through to your personal relationships. Look for the good in people and build on that point. Not everybody is good at everything. We all have different characteristics, different strengths and weaknesses. For example I have very poor attention to detail, subsequently I have to be very careful with the decisions that I make and employ three personnel that balance my strengths and weaknesses to suit.

5. Don't panic. If start flying to bits, and they will, don't panic or worse, fly off the handle. Take a big breath, pause, think up a solution and then act to solve the problem in a logical and steady fashion. Likewise, encourage your staff to problem solve correctly.

6. Money Management. Finally, be careful with your money management and do not spend money that you don't have. Avoid Hire Purchases unless the item is essential and affordable. Control your money; getting income to well exceed expenditure is an essential part of any farming business. Failure to do so in the current economic climate could see you in trouble. The important issue here I believe is that New Zealand is going through big change in the financial market and second tier money may not be as easy to find in the future.

In summary, realize you are heading back into that high stress period. Get a more balanced view of yourself, take some planned time off, communicate meaningfully, be more realistic, don't fly off the handle and be careful with your money. Life should then be a whole lot better.Life should then be a whole lot better.


 

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