What choices are mine? It is easy to say they are all my choices, but when you have a family, a business, friends, co-workers, etc. they often are directly or indirectly involved. Sometimes I don’t want to make any choice. This often just leaves me in a quandary. I didn’t have to commit, but actually I did by choosing the status quo. I like to get other’s opinions and ideas, but ultimately I have to choose to make a change or not. And that choice ultimately needs to be mine, no matter how many people have weighed in and no matter what anyone else thinks. I have to live with the final choice.
My husband and I went down to North Carolina this weekend. It was wonderful to see his sister and mother. My sister-in-law pointed out that I had not visited them in 7 years. They had been up to visit us each year, but I had not driven down to North Carolina to see them. I was shocked and disbelieving. Surely I had been down here at least 1 time in the last 7 years. I thought it through. In 2009 I was laid off and I took my sons down there for spring break. In 2010 I went to MSU for the Organic Farmer Training Program and didn’t have enough time off to get down there. In 2011 I started Stone Coop Farm. I have had a few trips since 2011, but they have been business related or just long weekend trips in Michigan. How did 7 years disappear? This summer was the first time in 6 years that we had a family vacation.
Thinking this all through made me very sad that I had neglected having time for my family. Starting a business can be all consuming and apparently I had let it take over my life. All work and no play has led me to exhaustion and burnout. I love being a farmer, but I love my family more. This trip was a wake-up call that my family HAS TO COME FIRST!
This is all part of my defining my fantasy life. I say family is my top priority, but I need to reinforce that with actions. Although our drive this weekend to North Carolina was super long, we got to have 2 ½ days enjoying their company. That made the two days in the car worth it.
It also gave my husband and I time to talk without interruptions from the phone, email, and work. We had many hours of complete silence that we both enjoyed. It is great to let the mind wander with no agenda. We also planned our trip to North Carolina to take two different routes. We got to see parts of Ohio and West Virginia that we had not seen before. We also got to see the Appalachian Mountains again, drive on those mountain roads, see the incredible mountain vistas and enjoy the warm sunny fall days.
I will now be actively choosing how I spend my time. Where is the MOST effective use of my work time, so I can have more play time? Working the most hours does NOT make me the best business owner, it just makes me tired. What can be delegated? What can be eliminated? How can I simplify? How can I empower my employees? How can I focus on the big picture and not define the entire minutiae?
I finally started writing job descriptions. I have been breaking up things that are crucial to the farm operations and figuring out how to split these responsibilities so each member of my staff can expand their capabilities and skill set. It is easier to empower them when they know what needs to be accomplished. I have competent employees who want to take on more responsibilities. I just need to sit down with them and get an agreement as to what they want to learn and what they want to own. By empowering them, I empower myself to have more freedom and time for my family.