Each year, starting in early December, I begin to review the goings on of the current year and pondering goals for the next. Being a “glass half-full” kind of guy, I’ve always seen the Winter Solstice around 21 December as a hopeful event: the days keep getting longer and the earth sits in quiet anticipation of what is to come.
I can’t have blasts of creativity or showers of ideas without a quiet time of hibernation, of idea incubation. This is just how I am wired and a work methodology that I’ve come to respect and honor. Generating goals, ideas, concepts and laying them out for the next year is hard work but filled with many rewards.
For 2014, I’m willing to share my genealogy goals publicly for various reasons. First, there’s something to be said about stating a goal, in print or voicing it out and coming back periodically to read or listen to it. A goal that sits in my mind is not fully formed: it has no substance, no form until I can state it and then let it go.
Another reason for goal sharing: I hope it can inspire you to set your own goals related to genealogy and family history. What you set out to accomplish might be very similar to some of my goals; in fact, you’re encourage to literally “steal” them and add your own twist to them.
Genealogy: Where Did The Wonder Go?
Remember when you first started your family history journey? Were you overwhelmed with all the information, amazed at all the possibilities, astounded by the variety of resources? Like a kid in a candy store or a child during Christmastime, you were excited and full of energy, ready to venture off in search of your ancestors.
Over time, as the years went by, you fell into a groove and learned about specific records sets, how to visit a court house or archive, attended a few genealogy conferences and even joined a genealogy society or two. Searching for those ancestors felt comfortable yet at times life got in the way and you had to put research on the back burner.
Have you ever felt “blah” about your genealogy research? Was it a matter of how to pick it up again or where to start? What about inspiration? Have you ever felt “left behind” when it came to technology or some of the newer resources used by other researchers?
I’ve experienced each and every one of these emotions and feelings and held these same thoughts in my mind. Worse yet, I became discouraged sometimes due to my own mechanisms and sometimes because I listened to some of the negativity that comes with any community, even the genealogy community.
Theme for 2014: Reclaiming the Wonder of Genealogy
Here are my resolutions for rediscovering that awe and wonder in genealogy
- Goals Get Results. Set goals and don’t be afraid to re-examine them periodically. Goals aren’t just for the new year; goals can offer constant guidance.
- Get Educated. Attend workshops and conferences in person as well as webinars and other online events. Set out educational goals, identify areas where you need more knowledge to be a better researcher.
- Grab the Ring. There is so much available right now in the genealogy community in terms of resources, assistance and encouragement. You need to take the first step and get in the saddle then reach out for that brass ring!
- Get Out! Remember not everything is online and you have to get out and away from your research comfort zone. Whether it is visiting a new repository while attending a national conference or making better use of your local public library, there are certain resources that just won’t come to your doorstep – go out and get them!
- Grow, Grow, Grow. Be open to new approaches to your research, like using a research log or the to do list that comes with a genealogy database program. Don’t be afraid of not following the same path as everyone else. This means developing your own tools and methods based on accepted genealogy research practices.
- Give and Guide. Think of all those who helped you get started and pointed you in the right direction when it came to finding your roots. There will always be a need for those who take time out of their own research to give guidance to others.
- Go After Genuine. Seek the best evidence and the best methods to present that evidence. Take the time to do it right and achieve genuine results in your research.
- Grateful and Graceful. Thank those who contribute to your success and make sure they are recognized for their work. Be grateful with grace and offer to return the favor.
- Gravitate to Good. Ignore negativity and those who insist “you’re doing it wrong” yet refuse to offer helpful guidance. Invest in good, seek out where it lives and hang out with those who understand the power of a giving community.
- Go Bold. Do something radical like starting your genealogy database from scratch. Try something new; stop doing what you’ve always been doing. A well-thought out approach can still be gutsy and may be just the change you need.
What Will 2014 Hold for You?
Whether or not you believe a new year means new approaches and new habits, realize that you can take hold of your genealogy at any time during the year and give it a jump start. Go out and grab hold of everything you ever wanted when it comes to finding out more about your ancestors. Go and find the “gee” in genealogy and never let it go.
If not now, when?
©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee