How I Set Goals for my Homestead
I never run out of things to do and projects to work on here at the homestead. However my goal is simple:
Do something every day!
How to determine your target!
I usually pick out my target/goal early each morning. Sometimes I pick it out the night before, but it is usually close to the time I will be working on it. The size of my project is determined by a number of things.
- My personal energy level.
- My finances at the time.
- My resources.
- My helpers.
- Other activities on the schedule that day.
- The weather.
Sometimes my project is as simple as take apart a pallet for firewood or for a wood project. Sometimes the goals is to put up 100 feet of fence or paint a shed. The goal isn’t to do as much as I can as quickly as I can, rather the goal is to make progress as often as I can. If it is payday then I often focus on doing the shopping, if its Sunday I focus on the Lord, but every other day I set a goal and work on it.
Today’s goal was to hang two gates on my gardens. Very few goals on a homestead stand alone. Just like very few goals in life stand alone. Although my goal for today was to install three gates for my gardens. They were preceded in previous days by digging holes for posts that were set into cement. After that I attached fencing to the posts and then after the posts were installed and the fencing was attached I was able to set my target for today to hang the gates. This goal will be followed on another day when I go into the gardens and plant trees, shrubs, and berry plants. I will also build a pergola in the garden and install a watering system.
When I look at everything that needs to be done I realize that my garden project entails years of work. This is why I use the system that I have. I know what I want my gardens to look like when I am finished (well I have an idea that evolves), but I don’t have the time, money or energy to just tackle the project all at once. Instead I use my goal determination list to decided how I am going to make progress on my garden.
Assess your resources
When I got to the stage where I was ready to install my gates I wandered around my property to see what I already had. I had an old gate that was left on my property from previous owners. I determined that it would fit on the south entrance to my garden. I also decided that I had half the hardware I needed to install it. I just purchased the other half for today’s installation.
For the East entrance I used some wood from a pallet that we took apart. My daughter helped me remove all the nails and staples from the wood and build a gate. We then had to purchase the hinges and a wheel for the bottom.
To address the gate that was needed on the North side of the garden we used an old pallet to temporarily close off that entrance. To do this we put 3 t-posts into the ground and slid the pallet over the posts. If we want to use that as a gate in the future we just need to pull off the pallet. Because we won’t be using that entrance for a while we also attached 2xs to the posts on either side to secure it better.
My point is that the garden itself is a huge project that will take years, but I can set daily and weekly goals to work on my garden so that I can continue to make progress and work towards the end product and these goals are largely determined by the resources that we have. Also my homestead evolves as resources and finances allow.
Sometimes it is beneficial to set weekly goals. There are times when setting a goal for the week instead of the day is extremely helpful. So what does setting a weekly goal do if I still have to set daily goals? A weekly goal gives me permission to not work on my goal if the day is crazy or full of distractions as long as I can keep working on my goal during the week. This also helps me to make progress during a crazy week because I know that I still need to work on my goal and make progress that week.
One example of a weekly goal was my loft doors. I knew that I needed to make progress on my doors but I didn’t know how much time I had each day, or how many hours the project itself would take. Instead of trying to do it all in one day or break it down into daily tasks, I set the goal to finish the doors that week. During this project I worked on my doors at the end of the day making as much progress as time would allow for that day. The doors were finished by the end of the week and I set my next goal.
The following week I set the goal to frame in the opening for the doors. This brings me to my next point.
Patience is a valuable resource.
I used free wood for this entire project. I had to wait three weeks after the doors were built to actually install them because I had to get the finances to buy the hardware to hang the door. In this area I am patient. When we built our home I often had to use whatever I had around and could find for free to do my projects. After our home made it to the stage of comfortable I decided that from that point on I would be patient with my future projects. I determined that I could finish all new projects to be what I wanted instead of what I had to settle for. I still use free supplies as often as I can. I scavenge for things I can reuse, re-purpose, or get for free. However in my journey I use what I can get to build the best that I can build.
I currently have a pile of bricks that I obtained for free that will eventually be used on one of the projects on my list for my homestead, but I am not in a hurry to use my bricks. I will use them when the right project presents itself. Being patient helps me to make progress that is fulfilling and beautiful.
Treat your homestead goals like a job.
I find that when I set my goals (especially weekly goals) and I am only accountable to myself, it is important to hold myself accountable. I write down my goal and I often report to one of my accountability friends. I know that the people who I have chosen as accountability friends will ask me how I am doing on my goals. This helps me to accomplish them, but having someone to report to also helps me to me more accountable. When we work at a job full-time we are more accountable to our boss. If we are the boss we are accountable to everyone below us who depends on us making progress to keep the company alive. To keep our homestead alive we need to make sure that we meet our goals and this means holding ourselves accountable.
Set short-term and long-term goals
My daily goals are goals that I have set for my homestead. They are things that I need to get done that day, or it is a goal that I set because its convenient to work on it that day. However when I set my goals they are based on my long-term goals. I need to work on projects that I won’t see results on for years. When I plant a tree, I am setting the short-term goal of planting the tree for the long-term goal of having fully grown shade or fruit trees on the homestead years down the road.
When I compost I am preparing soil that I won’t use until the next growing season. When I get chickens or ducks I know that it will be months of raising them before I am able to get eggs.
I once had someone interview me. He wanted to know what I did on my homestead. He seemed disappointed when I told him I had spent years digging holes. I told him that I was getting to a point where I had new projects but there were still a lot of holes that we had to dig. In fact after my interview I spend the next 2 months digging holes for trees and fence posts, but now I can look out and see my beautiful trees and my gardens that I fenced in. It will probably take 5 years for my gardens to become what I dream about, but the work that I put in today makes a future for my homestead.