Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to. Alice: I don’t much care where. The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
This is probably the most famous quote that can be cited when discussing goals. If you don’t plan out where you want to go, it’s difficult to get there.
In 2018, I wanted to redefine my New Years Resolution making by resolving to do things better than I did before. To do that, I needed information and I couldn’t wait until January to gather that information. You shouldn’t either, so if you’re behind the game, it’s okay. Just take a moment and think about where you want to go this year.
Determine your destination
Do you want to gain more knowledge in how to research your family?
Do you want to obtain Accredited Genealogist or Credentialed Genealogist Status?
Do you want to apply for a lineage society?
Do you want to find more information about a specific ancestor?
Do you want to preserve your family history?
Do you want to record all the family stories that you have heard or know?
Do you want to organize your genealogy collection?
Do you want to digitize your photo collection?
There are so many different things that you can do in genealogy to strengthen your relationships, discovery your heritage, and preserve the family legacy. Pick one. Don’t be like me and pick 15 and wonder why you don’t make head way on anything. Pick one. Once you complete that one task, if you still have time in the year, then you can pick another one.
Chart Your Course
If I want to drive from Houston, Texas to Fernandina Beach, Florida, I need a map. Without a map, there is no way I’m going to get to where I’m going. The same holds true for achieving your genealogy goals.
What are the actionable steps necessary to achieving your goals?
For an Accredited Genealogy certification, they may be:
Practice writing research reports in the AG style
Select a region to certify in
Develop research guides for your region
Select a family from the region that you can research for four generations within that locality
Create a research log
And so forth
To write a memoir (or a family narrative), your steps may be:
Select a time period to focus one (or an ancestor)
Draft a chronology of events
Find source material (journals, photos, newspaper headlines, a/v recordings)
Write a first draft
Edit the draft
Obtain copyright releases for necessary photos
Every task you want to accomplish in genealogy has a course you can chart to ensure you’ll get to where you want to go.
Track Your Steps
Once you have a course charted, you’ll want to remember the plan and track your steps. There are several options and the following is not an exhaustive list of ideas, but four tools that might help you to keep your course in mind and check off the progress you make.
Genealogy Software To-Do Lists
As genealogists, software can really help us organize our research and create cool family unit charts and pedigree displays. If that’s all you’re using your software for, you’re missing out. You can, or should, be able to track a To-Do List of research about your ancestors and the records you want to examine or the questions you have. The best part, is you don’t have to SPELL CHECK!!! These are your notes, and the To-Do List is right where you’ll be working – your genealogy software.
I love To-Do Lists in RootsMagic to remind myself where I left off and where I want to go to next.
Many genealogy buddies and friends with jobs in a variety of industries use Trello. They can create boards and move items from To Do, Doing, and Done (or some variation on the theme). I can see the value of this to keep track of the flow of my blog ideas, but not for every project I’m working on. It all depends on how your mind works.
AirTable is another project management system and it’ll allow for collaboration and the flow of tasks from one table to the next. If you need something robust like this, you’ll have to check this out as well.
Spreadsheets With Formulas
Family History Fanatics projects are planned, organized, and managed using spreadsheets. We have one for our YouTube Channel. As we complete different tasks to launch our videos, the row changes color. White isn’t started, red means the project has begun, and green indicates that we’ve launched the video.
I’m also using a spreadsheet that has deadlines with formulas that automatically change the colors of my tasks based on how soon a deadline approaches. The tasks also change color when complete.
If you want a new way to resolve this year, plan ahead the destination you want to go, map out the course, and then visualize how you’re going to get there using task management tools.