If you have a basic idea of what you want for your homestead, it is easy to just jump in and start doing. This is the ‘learn as you go’ ‘set goals on the fly’ approach. Quite truthfully, it is often the route I take. This method does not always lead to the best outcomes, though, and you can often come up against unforeseen obstacles that stop you in your tracks. When we brought our first goats home, (with two week’s notice), we had not finished building the shed, or completing the fence. Our goats spent two days in dog crates in the garage with occasional time out in the yard. With slightly more planning and forethought, we could have had the shed completed and equipped well before it was time to pick up the goats.
It is important to remember that a well thought out plan is ultimately a work in progress. You will constantly tweak and change your goals as you learn more. You may set a goal to have goats, only to decide that sheep suit you better. Knowing this upfront will give you flexibility to dream unhindered and still feel like you are achieving your goals. Keep in mind that specific, easy to measure goals are more likely to be achieved and will give you greater satisfaction.
Homesteading is not an all or nothing endeavor. You can dream as big or small as you like, just be realistic about what you want and what you can achieve and you are much more likely to reach your own level of success. Before you start to set specific goals, start a dream list of everything you want on your homestead, just make sure you live plenty of space to add things on in the future!
Make a Dream List
1. Make a list of everything you dream of in your ideal homestead (you'll have a chance to rein yourself in when you set goals)
This is your chance to dream big, so don’t limit yourself. If you want a cow, but know your current living situation would never allow it, put the cow on your list. This is your dream list, so go for it.
2. Look through your list and put a check next to any idea that you can achieve in your current situation
These are the ideas that you can reach with no major life changes. If you have time, resources and space to build a chicken coop and get chickens, put a check next to chickens on your list. If there is a local law against chickens in your neighborhood, this idea is not easily achievable, so don’t put a check.
3. Work through your list and write down the challenges you face that are keeping you from achieving your unchecked ideas.
For many of your ideas, you may need to wait until you move to a more ideal location. Perhaps you
are considering changing jobs and you hope your new job will allow you more time and resources to devote to your chickens. Record everything that could keep you from implementing your ideas.
4. Look at the challenges from step 3. Are any of those limitations things you are willing or able to overcome?
If you’ve always dreamed of having a cow, but love the city life and aren’t willing to move to a new home, this dream may need to stay a dream. As long as you are realistic about what you are willing to give up, it is OK to have a dream that stays a dream. Perhaps you can arrange with a nearby dairy farm to get involved in milking your own cow for milk on their farm. Remember that there are many ways to achieve goals that seem unreachable.
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Over the next few months, I will be exploring the opportunities available to the homesteader and offering thoughts on how to set goals and gain a focus on what you want on your homestead. Many of these thoughts are already available in my ebook: The Modern Homestead, but I invite you to follow along here and on my Facebook page for a deeper look into ideas and thoughts on creating your dream homestead.You can also find a wealth of information at the tabs at the top of the blog about gardening, raising animals, and learning new homesteading skills. If you're looking for experience and examples, check out the Homestead Highlight series for first hand accounts from homesteaders.