Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

Grad school began in September and my life has been a blur since then. The school year also began in September for my kids and since I homeschool meant more work for me as well. I also worked on developing two courses for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (www.genealogicalstudies.com). Both should be complete in the next couple of months, I hope. So, with all of this and the normal day to day responsibilities (housework, playing with the kids, scheduling appointments, playdates, etc.), I lost track and sight of my genealogy goals. When my life gets busy and I have no time for genealogy, I have a part of my soul that is literally not being fed. The research, the discoveries, spending time with my deceased relatives, all satisifies a piece of my soul that nothing else can satisfy. Thanksgiving break came and I became excited at the thought of being able to dive into genealogy again, even if for only the three days after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, my health had other ideas. On Thanksgiving, I sat on something that punctured and caused an infection. I won't go into too much detail here, as this experience has been a little humiliating; however, I will tell you that it was painful and I have been fighting the infection all month. The end is near though and the pain is gone for now, so I have some relief. But with the one thing after another keeping me away from genealogy I now feel lost. Where in the world was I? I remember some goal of becoming a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) by the end of the year. What's that you say? The end of the year is in 4 days? Well, I guess that goal is out. So, now what?

Have you experienced the same kind of life alterations, life changes, just life happening around you that has pulled you away from your obession for genealogy? Here are some tips on how to get back to your passion and even how to create some new goals for 2010...

1. Reflect on what you did accomplish this year regarding genealogy. For example, this year I made new friends on GenealogyWise. I created groups that I am hoping are helping people find their ancestors and accomplish their goals. I started developing curriculum that will help others learn about specific genealogical methods and time periods. I hosted chats that helped others find genealogical opportunities. I had three distant cousins find me by just keeping my Ancestry.com account active, even though I rarely sign on to the site to do research. I made some progress in my own family tree and I helped others make progress in their family trees. Give yourself a pat on the back for these accomplishments.

2. Take a look at the goals you did not accomplish in 2009. Are these goals attainable? Realistic? Did you make a goal that was just too big? Do you need a set of subgoals to help you accomplish one of your bigger goals? If the goals you did not accomplish are attainable and your life just got too busy this year to accomplish, write them down for 2010. There is no shame in not acheiving a goal. Goals are not there to pressure us and stress us out. Goals are there to give us guidance in what we want to accomplish. So, make some new goals for 2010. If you read this after the New Year, say in 6 months, just make some new goals if you feel you are not progressing in your goals the way you would have liked or if you have been away from genealogy for some time and need to refresh yourself on what exactly you are trying to accomplish.

3. Write your goals down. Do not make mental notes of what you want to accomplish, actually write your goals down. I had goals and I did not write them down. That is one reason why trying to get an idea of where I was at and what I wanted to accomplish so I could pick up where I left off has been difficult for me. I knew to write my goals down and I did at the beginning of the year, but when I accomplished those goals I did not write new goals out. I made mental notes. Mental notes are no good to you when your brain fails to remember them.

4. Contact other genealogists and discuss their goals and projects. Maybe something they are working on or one of their goals will jog your memory or give you an idea of a goal you would like to accomplish. By contacting fellow genealogists, you can also become inspired and encouraged to get back to your genealogy. When you feel like you're a part of something, you're more likely to find the time to be a part of it.

My point is do not try to just jump back in. Staying organized is key, even when you have become completely disorganized. When your genealogy becomes a mess, not only on your desk and in your filing cabinets, but in your head as well, you know it's time to sit down, reflect, and plan your next move. Also keep detailed notes regarding where you have been or what you have done in your research. This will leave you another clue when you come back after a long "vacation" from genealogy of where you wanted to go or what you needed to do to accomplish one of those elusive goals. So, this is the week. The week I will write my goals for the New Year as far as genealogy is concerned. Goal number 1: Become a member of the DAR by the end of 2010...stay tuned!

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Comment by patsy adkins on December 30, 2009 at 8:25pm
i wonder what had happen to you sweetie. I knew yu were going to graduate school etc. hope you feel better soon. i will help yoiu get your dar stuff done..lol..
Comment by Jeanie DiLeonardo on December 30, 2009 at 2:49pm
Great advice, Jennifer. I've heard that I should write down goals before, but I always took it as something negative, like a reminder of what I had failed to do yet. What you said, "Goals are not there to pressure us and stress us out. Goals are there to give us guidance in what we want to accomplish," well, that just clicked for me for the first time. I realized that if I do write them out, it should make it easier to determine which of them might be the best candidates for professional help, for starters. And it helps me be able to do #1. :)
Comment by Christine Gibbins on December 30, 2009 at 3:01am
Oh Thank you Jennifer, this I can relate to, and it has given me the much needed kick I need to get back to the research.
Comment by Jennifer G. Bayless on December 29, 2009 at 3:15pm
Jennifer,

I really enjoyed reading your post and can relate in many ways. I am also a homeschooling mother (of 7) and know just exactly what it is like to have to put research aside to maintain home/family. I just got into genealogy last year after my father died and now I can't imagine not doing it. It has become a part of me, and as you said, when I am 'snowed' under with other things and unable to research, a piece of my soul is 'starving'. I am hoping this year finds me with a little more 'spare' time to research and uncover the wonders of life in the past. I will definitely take note of all of your suggestions. Goal setting is at the top of my list for 2010. HAPPY SEARCHING!

Jennifer
Comment by Gena Philibert Ortega on December 28, 2009 at 4:19pm
Jennifer-

Life sure does get in the way sometimes! But I know you are highly motivated and will be up and pursuing your genealogical goals in no time! Take care of yourself.

Gena

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