What is a holistic goal?
Often we find ourselves working towards something that is ultimately going to cause the destruction of other things that we cherish. For example if we focus on making money, we may stop spending time with family and community or on hobbies that we enjoy because we are always working. Setting a holistic goal allows us to consider everything that we find important and work towards optimising the outcomes so that we don't inadvertently compromise something that we value.
Having defined the holistic goal, every subsequent decision can be tested against the goal. This ensures that all courses of action will advance towards the goal and take into account the whole of the farm or business.
A holistic goal, as defined by Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making, has four parts - a statement of purpose, quality of life definition, an understanding of the means of production and a list of future resources that are needed to achieve this purpose. I'm going to share with you what Pete and I have initially drafted as our holistic goal, however the final wording may be refined as I read the rest of the book.
I found that the book was a little short on examples (and long on description) of holistic goal. I did find some good resources online which helped with the goal (here and here).
Statement of purpose
To produce enough food for ourselves and a surplus to share locally, to develop knowledge and skills that we can use and share as widely as possible, to provide enough income that we can minimise the need for off-farm work, to nurture our creativity and enjoyment of nature and working hard together.
Quality of life (Things that are important to us)
- minimal off-farm work
- positive relationships with neighbours and wider community
- technically and mentally challenging, yet enjoyable work
Means of production (Things that we can make)
- Beef cattle (live animals and meat)
- Bees and bee products (hives, honey and beeswax)
- Soap and salves (products and workshops)
- Chickens (live animals and eggs)?
- Some kind of produce?
Future resource base (Things that we can use)
- Perennial pasture
- Dams and bore water
- Biodiversity (trees and animals)
- Perspective of neighbours/community (hardworking and productive)
- Perspective of customers (quality products, good service)
That's what we have so far! I think its a good idea to at least try to draft a few ideas at this stage of the book, so that you can put the rest of the chapters in context. And then come back to the goal later. Allan even writes that you will need to keep refining the goal over time as you get a better understanding of what you're trying to achieve.
Compared to a permaculture goal statement
When starting a permaculture design, the first step is defining a goal statement (see info from Milkwood here). The goal statement describes what you're hoping to get from your design, its a vision of the final outcome. I think that the holistic goal is broader, its a goal for the whole property, rather than a specific design. The holistic goal is similar to the statement of purpose in the holistic goal. The extra parts of the holistic goal help you to get into more detail.
Have you written am holistic goal? Or a permaculture goal statement? What resources did you find useful?
Below are some Amazon affiliate links to books related to Holistic Management. If you would like to read my reviews of these books, see the following links:
Joel Salatin's books
Peter Andrew's books on Natural Sequence Farming