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Set goals, but learn this secret.

I graduated from a small, rural high school. Among the many perks of a small school is often having the same teacher for multiple courses. I had the privilege of learning from Mr. Leuthold for two years of algebra, one year of geometry, and one year of pre-calculus, and even though the content changed from year to year, his approach to class was the always the same. Each day we would spend a significant amount of time reviewing the homework problems assigned the previous day, going over the steps we used to arrive at an answer. He wasn’t interested in just the answer that was at the end of the problem; he checked to see how we had gotten there. When quizzes and exams were graded, we earned points for the steps we demonstrated solving a problem and for the correct answer. Mr. Leuthold often discussed the importance of paying attention not just to the answer, but to the “getting there”.

Whether you’re showing cattle, lambs, goats, or pigs, you start each project with a goal. Maybe it’s a banner. Maybe it’s to make the cut at the majors. Maybe it’s a breed champion. Maybe it’s getting your name called at the circuit’s banquet at the end of the season. Goals are critical, but know this: paying attention to the “getting there” makes all the difference on the way to your goals. Here are a few tips to make the most of the “getting there” in this year’s project:

1. Work it.
You’ve likely learned this already, maybe the hard way. Doing well at a show doesn’t come from what you do on show day, although that certainly matters. No, doing well at a show comes from all the work you did during the days, weeks, and months before the show. Making the most of each early morning alarm and late night in the barn will be what makes the difference when the judge is giving your animal that hard look while placing the top end of the class.

All those long hours in the barn aren’t just for your animal – they’re also for you. You don’t gain many skills from stepping into the ring on show day for a few minutes. You grow your abilities and develop your strengths during the “getting there”. Every summer morning you wake up before all your friends you’re building discipline and commitment. Each time you say “one more time” you’re practicing dedication. Every evening you prioritize your chores over social time, you’re learning responsibility. Recognize the “getting there” as the place you grow the most and take advantage of it as a time to build your skills.

2. Enjoy it.
It’s super easy to focus so much on the goal that you lose sight of all the great moments that happen on the way there. Sure, the champion slap, the backdrop photo with the banner, all the congratulation handshakes are fun and memorable, but years from now you’ll likely remember the “getting there” even more.

Enjoy the everyday moments! From the truck rides with your family going to every lamb sale in the tri-state region to catching the best sunsets while turning your steer out for the night, working on your project gives you countless opportunities to enjoy some of life’s best moments. I love the short walk to my barn because I can take in a beautiful maple tree changing with the seasons while my pup runs beside me. Each day brings another chance to enjoy the journey – don’t waste it!

3. Mark it.
Celebrating the achievement of a big goal is great, but how do you mark the small wins? The “getting there” to a big goal can take quite a while. Stay motivated during the “getting there” by celebrating your progress along the way. Make the cut in showmanship at your first jackpot show ever? Got your barrow out for the full practice time? Reward yourself! Mark your progress with an encouraging note on your barn wall, a mental note of achievement, or maybe even a bowl of ice cream. Take note of your small wins – they add up to big accomplishments!

So set big goals, but appreciate the “getting there” and the big goals will take care of themselves!

Marlene Eick
Herdmark Media

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