Craft a Strong Genealogy Goal in 2018

By Vanessa Wieland

How much genealogy research are you accomplishing this summer? Develop a great plan for tackling all the questions you have about your ancestors and learn more about your family history. Family Tree University has the techniques, tips, and tools you need to achieve your genealogy goals. Get motivated and on the right track by joining our workshop, Get Started in Genealogy.

Genealogy goal setting

Determine what you want to learn

The reason so many resolutions fail is because they aren’t specific enough. “I want to get healthy,” doesn’t address how you will accomplish it.

The same is true when it comes to genealogy goals. If your goals are flagging at the mid-year point—or worse, they haven’t got off the ground—it’s time to reevaluate.

If your goal is, “I want to find everything on my great-great-grandparents,” break it 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 can be used to establish a stronger goal with clear measurements of success.

Get specific with your genealogy goal

Using the questions you’ve asked yourself, determine what you want to learn. “I want to learn about my great-grandfather” isn’t specific enough, but “I want to find where my great-grandfather was born” provides an achievable target. 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. Think about creating a clear measure of success. Will you complete it in a certain time frame? Will it answer a specific question? 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 you’re probably seeing some concrete steps you can take. 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.

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 your research isn’t going well, it’s easy to get frustrated. Don’t give up! Take breaks from your research to give yourself a chance to recharge. Remind yourself why you like doing the research and evaluate your next steps. Do you need to change your approach? Search on a different website or in a different area? Even if it’s going well and you’re finding what you need, take a break to prevent burn out.