Some of the most pressing concerns faced by farmers and ranchers, such as weather-related issues, can elevate personal stress and disrupt sound decision- making.
“Producers and their families should think family first and keep current challenges in perspective,” says Sean Brotherson, North Dakota State University Extension Service family science specialist. “Weather-related stress and other sources of concern in agriculture can put persistent strain on farmers and ranchers operating in today’s agricultural economy. However, what farmers and ranchers want to be careful about is letting their personal stresses pile up so that their management practices and decision-making become negatively affected. When you’re under stress, you may communicate less with others, become more disjointed in your thinking and make decisions based on anxiety or anger.”
To assist individuals and families in farming or ranching to think through and make healthy personal and business decisions in times of stress, Brotherson suggests such strategies as clarifying values and goals, identifying available resources, evaluating costs and benefits, and understanding different decision-making styles.
“It’s helpful to have a pro-cess to work through as you are making decisions that affect your bottom line or your family security,” Brotherson says. “This makes it possible to reduce stress and increase the quality of decision-making. This is important because your decisions affect all the operations on the farm or ranch. These decisions also determine the quality of your personal life and family relationships.”
Brotherson has these suggestions:
• Identify key values important to the well-being of you and your family. The same holds true for the farm or ranch operation. Discuss these values and then develop goals that are specific and clear that will guide your family and business decision-making.
• Identify personal and interpersonal resources, such as creativity or communication, that cost little but can aid in your decision-making. Also, identify tangible, concrete resources such as capital or equipment that are important in making decisions. Seek ways to access or create these resources.
• Evaluate the costs and benefits involved in making a particular decision to each member of the family or business operation. Then evaluate the costs and benefits to the couple or the family as a whole.
• Examine your decision-making style and then think about what decision-making process will work best for the family and the farm or ranch operation in a particular circumstance.