Goals. Resolutions. January.
It seems like these three things go hand-in-hand, doesn’t it? We start the new year with a blank slate, dreaming of all the glorious things we might accomplish. And we have every intention of making those things happen. But after awhile, the twists and turns of real life tend to lead us in other directions. At the end of the year, we’ve actually done quite a lot. But it somehow doesn’t seem as satisfying as it should because we can’t check off the boxes on all the goals we set 12 months earlier.
For the past two years, I’ve posted my annual goals here at A Sense of Family (see “Going Out on a Limb” in 2011, and “Going Out on a Limb Again” in 2012). But this year I’m taking a different approach. I’ve been inspired by Jacqi Stevens, author of the blog A Family Tapestry. Her recent post, “What Happens Tomorrow,” is a good reminder that even though we can’t see the road ahead, we can still have productive and satisfying days. And that, like the old tortoise-and-hare proverb, a slow and steady pace can be just the ticket for finishing the race. If you haven’t already, take a few moments to read what Jacqi has to say.
I’ve also been inspired by Lynn Palermo, The Armchair Genealogist. Her recent post, “Achieving Your Family History Goals by Taking Inventory!,” encourages us to clear the clutter away in order to see what we have and what we need more of. This makes a lot of sense to me. Some families on my tree are pretty robust, while others have gotten pushed to the back, patiently waiting for my attention. Looking at an overview of my pedigree chart reveals where I’m missing information. Just knowing where these gaps are, and recognizing what information I need, is a big help in moving forward. Clarity. If that sounds like something you could use, too, I highly recommend you read Lynn’s suggestions for dealing with clutter and taking inventory.
So this year, I’m not posting my usual list of goals and objectives. I’ve decided to take a kinder, gentler approach. You see, like many of you, I don’t have big chunks of time to do my personal genealogy research. Life is busy. Between my work, family, home, and volunteer activities, every day is full to bursting. Time management is an ongoing challenge. When I do get a chance to work on my own ancestors, it tends to be in small bits of time. And it helps to know what I’d like to focus on, so I don’t lose that precious time.
Instead, I did a quick inventory of my genealogy database to determine where my biggest holes are. Then I jotted down reminders of some unanswered questions so I can pick up and run with them when I get the chance. Since I don’t expect to solve all these mysteries, I won’t be disappointed if some of them linger on at the end of 2013. But when opportunity arises, at least I’ll have a list of “needed items” ready to search for.
A few personal research questions I’d like to answer, or at least make some progress towards answering, this year are:
- Who were the parents of Charles Ballenger, who was born in 1815 and appears in the 1840 U.S. Census taken in Athens County, Ohio? Where did Charles come from? Where and when did he marry his wife, Elizabeth Jane Adams?
- Who were the parents of Samuel A. Seely, born in 1863 in Rushville, Indiana? When and where did he marry his wife, Matilda Adeline Wright? Who were her parents?
- Undocumented family history notes written by my husband’s grand-uncle shows George Crites as the father of Jonathan Crites, born in 1829 in Pennsylvania. What evidence can be found to confirm and document this relationship? Who were the parents of his wife, Eliza Ellen Lucas?
- When did Ludwig Schiebel immigrate to America, and when and where was he born? What else can be learned about him and his wife, Pauline?
I’m hoping these notes will give me just enough focus to continue making steady progress in finding my ancestors. It’s a more flexible approach than I’ve used in the past, but it feels comfortable. I don’t think there’s a right way or a wrong way to set goals, and you may prefer a more structured method. But whatever you do, remember to sit back and savor the achievements—large and small—that you make during the course of the year. Imagine your ancestors thanking you for all your hard work. After all, it’s the journey that counts. Be kind to yourself, and make it a fun one!