Focusing on the positive

In Home Block5 Minutes

THE PURPOSE OF THE RBNZ in hiking rates is to stop us from spending, but to do that the bank needs to make us all feel sad and gloomy so we put our wallets away. I get it, we need to get inflation under control. We have reined in our spending where we can (while actually spending more because our interest rates have gone up), but I refuse to be made to feel gloomy because of an ‘engineered recession’. Mainly because I am stubborn, if someone is trying to make me feel something, then like a teenager, I want to do the opposite. But also, in my view, the fundamentals are good – this is the RBNZ taking a shorter-term position to get the place under control before easing begins and we can get on with it.

What is the point in buying into the doom and gloom that seems to be so easy to come by at the moment? It will surely just lead to feeling less in control of our own futures, less motivated, and generally less satisfied by what we are doing on our farms. The alternative is to make a decision to be relentlessly positive and to focus on what is good.

We have just bought two-thirds of the neighbouring farm, and it’s been a lesson for me that there is only one way to approach this in a time like 2023. We are attacking it. I’m imagining the All Blacks turning up for the job feeling sad and grumpy about life and guessing the result wouldn’t be what they hoped for. We’re taking the same approach when thinking about our new position. If we focus too much on the interest rates and the softening lamb prices, we will take our eye off the ball. The rules of the game are to take a long-term approach: to focus strongly on the future; to innovate and try new stuff; and to relentlessly work for a farm system that is profitable and one consumers will pay for.

Occasionally I falter in my approach and begin to question, but Anthony reassures me that this must be what taking the next step feels like. Uncomfortable. It is great talking to some of the older folk out there who have made their move before and have come out the other side. These guys who have taken risks and been rewarded are positive about the future. I have been told by a number of them that it is often good to make a move when the economy and sentiment are a bit ugly. I guess for us, time will tell on that one.

But in the meantime – over the next two years – I accept things are going to be tough. To maintain my position of relentless positivity, I will have to consciously choose what I do and filter out what deflates me. I won’t be watching much of the news or following the election too closely. I will cast my vote though.

I’ll be spending time with my kids, watching their sports, cosying up on the couch to watch a movie. I’ll be keeping close to our budget and constantly tinkering to ensure we have a farm system that works and that we continue to be on the same page as our bank. We will continue to invest in areas that improve production, like subdivision and fertiliser. And I will surround myself with others who are confident they can meet the challenges in front of us and come out stronger on the other side.

Producing food continues to be (mostly) enjoyable and satisfying work for us. Economist Cameron Bagrie has been recently quoted saying, “I can tell you, I would rather be a farmer in the next two years than an Auckland property developer.” It is a helpful quote to keep a bit of perspective in the current environment.