Farmers: get socially connected with a purpose

with Don Fraser
Fraser Farm Finance

All the evidence points to the necessity to be socially involved with a clear vision for our future to survive. Too much time on our hands, with no idea of where we are going, and not having enough social contact is not good for our health, our mental health or our longevity.

Too much time on our hands and nobody to really talk to can cause us to start internalising stuff, bottle things up and what is running around in our head becomes our reality. If we eventually pluck up the courage to chat to somebody about how we are really feeling, it is like lancing a boil and the problem vanishes. This is where social connectedness really comes in. Do we have someone we can share our concerns with?

Apparently, if we are not socially connected, we become anxious and worried. We feel on the outer and that nobody cares about us. To feel great, we need to be socially connected and with purpose.

As farmers, we can be huge on purpose as we buy and build up our farming business. Purpose is everything and we will step over anybody who gets in the way of our objective. Eventually, we get the farm, hopefully the debt down, the kids have flown the nest and we are no longer on the school committee; and suddenly we have no purpose.

Without purpose

My phone runs hot with farmers who have lost their purpose. What do I do now they ask? They have lost sight of the future and their purpose has gone.

I was out walking recently and ended up chatting to a retired farmer who was less than chirpy. He’d sold his farm and relocated, his wife had died, the kids were all busy and he’d invested all his money.  He was socially disconnected and without purpose.

I suggested he join groups such as golf, cycle groups, Probus, Menz Shed, church, anything to get him out to meet people, get connected and a reason to get up in the morning. I even suggested a small dog for company. Will he? Who’ll be watching out for him in future and follow up to see if he’s okay? 

They tell me resthomes are full of people who’ve been socially disconnected, are lonely and have no purpose.

Reach out

We started a Probus-type group in our community recently. There’s a monthly meeting with speakers, plus an outing. And 100 people show up; it’s great to see the enthusiasm and light in their eyes as they connect and share.

Getting back to farmers, it appears all this disconnect starts later in life as purpose wanes. It’s also the time statistics show they are more likely to consider suicide as the only way out. I guess an important point here is: as an individual we need to step up and reach out to these disconnected people. I guess it is called leadership, the ability to check in with people, to ask if they are okay and lead them to a better space.

As the saying goes: “Leadership is not what you do when the people are looking, it is what you do when they are not looking!”

I guess our wives are often much better socially connected with coffee mornings, activities suchlike, and with better purpose trying to look after family and keep everything going.

If you feel you’re falling between the cracks, ask for help; and if you’re around and see disconnected people, show some leadership. Feel the fear, step up and reach out to them. Social connectedness with purpose is everything.

Disclaimer – These are the opinions of Don Fraser of Fraser Farm Finance.  Any decisions made should not be based on this article alone and appropriate professional assistance should be sought.

DON FRASER is the Principal of Fraser Farm Finance and a consultant to the farming industry. Contact him on 021 777 675


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