Happy New Year! 2013 is in the past, and 2014 is in the present, although, of course, much of it still lies in the future! It is time for that favorite of pastimes making your genealogical New Year’s Resolutions.
You may have read some of the many articles dissuading people from making New Year’s Resolutions. Since most people don’t follow through on their resolutions, why bother? You will only end up quitting within a week. I think these naysayers are to quick to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The real problem is not that people don’t stick with their resolutions. The major issue is that they were not realistic when creating them in the first place. Too often, we are overly optimistic. We think “if I don’t set the bar high enough, it won’t be real.” Actually, we should be thinking just the opposite. If you want to stick with it, make your goals attainable and realistic. Make sure that you don’t have a large number of huge resolutions that will take you 12 months to achieve.
Another major issue is the sheer volume of resolutions. Many people make a list of resolutions for the coming year that rivals War and Peace in length. If you try to tackle too much, you will certainly fail. Think of it this way: if you try to carry too many packages at the same time, you will surely drop some, or drop all of them if they make you trip and fall. Keep your resolutions to a modest number, and you will have a chance at attaining them.
Once you have your list, time to sit down and examine it. Can you do any more trimming? Remember, you can always add to your list as the year progresses, but if you start out with too long a list it will discourage you. Now look at the ones you have left. Divide them into three groups: short, medium, and long term.
Time to do some scheduling. You know that for all intents and purposes, nothing much will be accomplished after Halloween. After that Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, and a multitude of other holidays and events will get in the way. So, realistically, you have 10 months to accomplish things.
To make things easier, break the year down into quarters (Jan.–Mar.; Apr.–Jun.; Jul–Sep.; Oct–Dec.). We have already discussed the uselessness of trying to schedule major projects for November and December. Use October as a review and finalize month. That conveniently leaves us with three segments of three months each.
Take your list, and spread the items out. Put at least one medium-term and one or two short-term items in each quarter. Then figure out where to put your one or two long-term items.
Now look at each one of these items and come up with some action items for each one. Make sure you have a few action items each week. Put them into your calendar. Don’t forget to account for holidays, birthdays, vacations, business travel, and other events that might get in the way of accomplishing your tasks. Some ideas are:
Start a blog for your family, chronicling your research
- Write a pamphlet
- Put together a slide show
- Document new findings
- Get your genealogical certification or accreditation
This entire process should take you very long. But once you follow these suggestions, you will be setting yourself up for a great deal of success. Happy 2014 to all of you!