January 5, 2013

A Kinder, Gentler Approach to Genealogy Goals


genealogy goals family history goals

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!

--Shelley

20 comments:

  1. I appreciate your kinder, gentler approach to goals in the New Year!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What I especially like about your blog is that you are being "kinder and gentler" to yourself in terms of not pledging yourself to a schedule of accomplishments that could make a person rushed or frantic. Much better this way. I see so many people with buckets full of goals to deal with, that it makes me hyperventilate by proxy.

    I like Jacqi's and Lynn's approaches, too. Focus on what you DO accomplish, and take a more relaxed and analytic approach to your goals. Laura Lorenzana highlighted her accomplishments, too, which I think is much more healthy than setting a BIG to-do list. We really have only "tomorrow," as Jacqi says. In my last blog I tried to clear a focus on the KIND of research I'm doing instead of the NUMBER of tasks that I will try to finish.

    There is enough chaos and rush in life without imposing more on ourselves! Where are we all going in such a big hurry? I like what you've written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said, Mariann! My sentiments exactly. When we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, it seems we lose a lot of the fun in what we do. I like the way you focused on the kind of things you want to do rather than itemizing a number of specific tasks. I'm sure you'll have a very successful year! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Delete
  3. Shelley, what a pleasant surprise to stop by here at your blog this morning and find this post. Thank you so much!

    I haven't caught up on my blog reading yet for today, but had come by to snag your URL. I want to recommend your blog to someone else focusing on Ohio genealogy, since you keep a list of Ohio-related blogs. A useful resource!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're most welcome, Jacqi. And thanks for spreading the word about my list of Ohio blogs. If you know of anyone else who might want to be listed on it, please ask them to shoot me an email. Glad you've found it helpful!

      Delete
  4. Shelley, I love this. I have never made genealogy goals at the beginning of the year, and have worn myself out just reading the goals of others. For me genealogy is a voyage without a shore. It is all about the journey. . .and if I should happen on something enticing, I give myself permission to follow it wherever it may go. I guess I have always been more of a genealogy vagabond, but I'm having a grand time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds just about perfect, Margel! I love the idea of a "genealogy vagabond." Hope you have lots of fun this year.

      Delete
  5. Shelley, I wanted to let you know that I nominated your blog for the "Liebster Blog" Award. Here's the link ~ http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/01/three-blog-awards-kindly-given.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Jana! I'm honored and delighted.

      Delete
  6. Shelley, I have nominated you for a Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/UXG7Yc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mariann, it's very much appreciated!

      Delete
  7. LOVE the idea of having a handy list available for those times when there is just a small amount of time! It would also help keep me more focused, because I tend to lose myself in databases and come out the other side not remembering why I "went in"...something I'm sure never happens to anyone else ;-)

    Great post as always - I also like the idea of taking inventory. Now that I've cleaned up my room it's time to take inventory of my database.

    Thank for all the good ideas!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Diana, I know just what you mean about losing yourself in a database to the point of forgetting what you were looking for in the first place! Seems like there should be a name for that syndrome :-)

      Good for you for cleaning up your genealogy room! What a wonderful feeling that has to be. Thanks for reading and your kind words. Best of everything in the new year to you!

      Delete
  8. Shelley, I just found your blog and am thoroughly enjoying it! This post really resonates with me, as I have been thinking a lot about my resolutions for the New Year but haven't really articulated them, probably because I want to be realistic and not put pressure on myself.

    You have the right idea. We research our families and write about them because we love what we do, not because we have to. I like what you said about taking inventory of what needs to be resolved, but also balancing that with what we have accomplished. Thanks so much for your marvelous insights, and Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Linda, welcome and thank you! So glad to "meet" you. You're right, the last thing any of us need is more pressure. Balance and appreciation seem to be the keys to enjoying life for me these days.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it. Happy New Year to you, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want you to know that I've nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. I see that Jana Last already has done this, so guess I'm just seconding the honor! In any case, thanks for your wonderful posts. You're a great writer.

      http://manybranchesonetree.blogspot.com/2013/01/thankful-thursday-grateful-and-paying.html

      Delete
  10. Hi Shelley, what a humane approach to the new year. Thank you. Your post has made me stop and re-think about the coming 12 months. Already, I feel hopeful.
    ~ Denise

    ReplyDelete
  11. Glad to have helped in some small way, Denise. You accomplished so many amazing things last year, especially with the publishing of your book, and I know you're going to have an awesome 2013 as well. Take care and best wishes!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading my blog! I welcome and appreciate your comments.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...