Why You Should Keep A Decision Journal

Since Maggie Holub began farming in 2015, she’s journaled about grain marketing and made pro versus con lists for big decisions. ( Micheal Dwyer for Top Producer )

Record, analyze and revisit how you evaluate opportunities  

“Best cash sale I’ve ever made farming.” Maggie Holub wrote those few words on June 14, 2019, in her grain marketing Excel journal. 

“The Crop Production report had just came out and they knocked 10 bu. off the corn yield,” recalls Holub, a corn and soybean farmer from Scribner, Neb. “I sold a load of corn for $4.52. You reflect back I should have probably sold more, but that’s still the highest price I’ve ever sold for.”

Holub, who also works full-time as a relationship officer with Farm Credit Services of America, has discovered the power of a journal in her decision-making process. 

“I can look back at my plan and the notes I made on specific sales,” she says. “This keeps the market in perspective at the same time it suggests whether I need to adjust my plan.”

Write It Down

A decision journal, which can be digital or a cheap notebook, can help you improve how you make decisions on the farm. “When we are specific and write things down, we get better clarity out of our thinking,” says David Widmar, economist at Agriculture Economic Insights. 

When facing a big decision, Widmar coaches, use your journal to record what you’re thinking. To help guide you through the process, ask questions such as:

  • What do you expect to happen?
  • Why do you expect this to happen?
  • What is driving your thinking? 

This tool helps eliminate excessive optimism or pessimism around a decision and its outcomes, adds Brent Gloy, economist at Agriculture Economic Insights. 

“A decision journal will help you avoid snap decisions or analysis paralysis,” he says. “Plus, what a great gift to give your kids or successors – a record of how you make decisions over time.”


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