What will your year look like when it comes to your genealogy? Develop a great plan for tackling all the questions you have about your ancestors, break through some brick walls, and learn more about your family history. Family Tree University has the techniques, tips and tools you need to do all of that and achieve your genealogy goal for 2018. Read about the new year’s resolutions we’ve set for ourselves and check out some tips that will help set you on the path to success.
Determine what you want to learn
The reason so many New Year’s resolutions fail is because they aren’t specific enough. “I want to get healthy” doesn’t address how it will be accomplished or any milestones or timeframes. The same is true when it comes to genealogy goals.
Instead of saying, “I want to find everything on my great-great-grandparents,” break that down. What do you already know about them? Do you know their names? Where they lived? How many children they had? When they died? Where they were married? Did they emigrate? All of these questions, along with others like them, can be used to establish a stronger goal with clear measurements of success. Learn more about goal setting with our workshop, Get Started in Genealogy.
Get specific with your genealogy goal
Using the questions you’ve asked yourself, it’s time to determine what exactly you want to learn – and how you’re going to go about learning them. A good genealogy goal should be specific with a clear measure of success. “I want to learn about my great-grandfather” isn’t a good goal because it’s not specific enough, but “I want to find where my great-grandfather was born” provides a specific, achievable target. Even larger goals, like “I want to write my great-grandfather’s story” or “I want to digitize and edit all of our family photographs” can be made more concrete if it’s framed with a clear time frame or measure of success. How are you going to write the story? Is it going to be a book or on a website?
Break your goal down into steps
If you have set a strong genealogy goal, then chances are, you’re already seeing some concrete steps you can take to achieve that goal. Breaking down large goals into smaller steps is a handy way to stay motivated. If digitizing your photos and editing them is your goal, why not break it down by photo album or box? Or, if you’re concentrating on one specific branch or person, why not start with them?
If your genealogy goal is to write your family history, start with an outline and then break it down into chapters or sections. Or, how about a blog post per week? Choose something that is realistic for you based on what you want to accomplish, how much time you have, skill level and interest.
Don’t overlook the use of research logs to help you establish a game plan, especially if you have multiple goals. Break them down by searches you intend to do and the records you look at will keep your research moving forward, and it’s a great help to see what you’ve already accomplished at a glance. Research logs also help you save time and search more efficiently.
Set a timer
Believe it or not, sometimes the best thing you can do to achieve your genealogy goal is to set a limit on how much time you spend doing each task. It’s all too easy to binge research, especially when it’s going well, but by establishing a time to take a break, you give yourself the chance to step back and evaluate what you’ve done so far. Often, we get so involved in the details that we forget about the big picture – what it is we’re trying to accomplish.
When it’s not going well, it’s easy to get frustrated and feel ready to give up. By taking breaks from your research, you give yourself a chance to recharge and remember why you like doing the research and evaluate your next steps. Do you need to change your approach? Try searching on a different website or in a different area? Even if it’s going well and you’re finding what you need, taking a break keeps you from burning out.