Friday, January 6, 2012

Genealogy Goals: Steps for Success

Genealogy goals are a great way to build motivation and get tasks accomplished in a given period of time. I set goals in 2011 and was pretty successful. I have 3 more goals for 2012 and can't wait to see how I do.

Should you set goals? The answer is up to you (but I say yes). Here are some considerations to increase your chances of success.

1. Goals aren't just for January 1
You can set a genealogy goal at any time, for as long as you want. Several bloggers set monthly goals. It's perfectly fine to set a goal on February 7. Give yourself the flexibility to succeed.

2. Goals should be a little bit scary.
Let me clarify "scary." You should set some goals that take you outside your comfort zone and lead to new experiences. For example, one of my 2012 goals requires me to research in a state archive that is new to me. I will have to learn the ins and outs of the place, as well as how to locate and get the item that I want. When I complete this goal, I will have new knowledge and new research experiences.

3. Set yourself up for success.
What motivation do you need to succeed? Some people write their genealogy goals in their blogs. The public declaration is enough to get them going. Others recruit a goal "buddy" to help them be accountable. You can even reward yourself with the purchase of a new genealogy toy when you complete your goal. You know what it takes for you to stay motivated. Make than happen.

4. Divide your goals into manageable pieces.
"Write my family history book" is a great goal, but it needs definition and direction. If this is the year you finally write your family's history, break it into manageable pieces. Start with an outline, then take on the task one step at a time. If you want to clean your genealogy office, make a commitment to clean the file cabinet, then another to clean the top of the desk, etc. Set smaller goals. Doing so will get you closer to completing your goal.

5. Goals aren't written in stone.
It is ok if you don't complete the tasks set forth in your goals. Really. Don't beat yourself up over what you haven't done. Just pick yourself up and start again. One of my 2012 genealogy goals is recycled from 2011 because I didn't finish it then.

6. Move the ball forward.
Some days are more productive than others. As long as you move the ball forward, you will continually move toward completing your goal.

Hopefully I've stated my case for genealogy goals. I wish you the best in completing yours.


  1. You are so right! Breaking down your goals into manageable pieces is almost essential in starting them, let alone finishing them! I believe that's my greatest downfall. In the past I have had aspirations so huge it'd take a staff to complete them! Instant failure!
    This year is different, just as you posted I'm taking things one step at a time!
    Good luck!

  2. Good point, Cindy. If the goal looks like a big mountain, you feel too intimidated to climb it. But if you set a small goal to do 500 steps today, you're that much closer to reaching the summit.

  3. Hi Amy. I am so excited to find that we have a great genealogy blogger right here in our own backyard. Great job.
    I too believe in Genealogy Goals. My sister and I are working on a book together on our great great grandmother, Jane Caldwell. Hopefully this year it will be completed. More research than we anticipated, but learning lots.

  4. Thanks, Karen! It's nice to know another genealogist and blogger in the neighborhood! I wish your sister and you the best on your book.