Delayed Motivation Monday – July Goals

I know it isn’t Monday, but I forgot to post this yesterday, and I really didn’t want to wait until next Monday to put up my goals for July.  As I said in my last “goals” post, I truly feel like sharing these provides the accountability that I need to keep me focused on my genealogy goals each month.
First a wrap-up of June’s goals:

1)  Write two blog posts per week.  I managed to stay on track with this one.  I think that the quality of my posts have improved as a result of scaling back, and I know that the “anxiety” over trying to get out a higher volume of posts has disappeared.

2)  Finish reading Thomas W. Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof.  I finished this up while I was up in Indiana two weeks ago!

3)  Complete the organization of my paper files.  I hate to have a failure on any goal, but this one is going to have to be an ongoing goal since I didn’t get anywhere near completion on this one.

4)  Catch up on other genealogy reading.  Again…I’m shifting this one to an on-going goal.

5)  Evaluate the Evidentia software program. I had a chance to work with Evidentia and do some evaluation on it.  I definitely love the program and it is on my “to purchase” list!

Now, on to July’s Goals:

1) Continue working on the organization of my paper files. (Deadline: ongoing)

2) Read one white paper or article (non-blog post) per week. (Deadline: ongoing)

3) Finish sorting everything that came home with me from the Indiana trip.  This one is almost complete, so
I’m setting a deadline of July 15th for this one. (Deadline: July 15)

4) Scan at least half of the pictures and documents that came home with me from Indiana.  I don’t think that I can actually get all of it scanned by month’s end (yes, there was that much!) so I am setting a more realistic goal of half. (Deadline: July 31)

5) Participate in the MGP study group.  I’m  very excited about this one, since my group started yesterday!

6) Lay out personal genealogy education program.  Much of what I have been doing in the way of genealogy education for myself up to this point has been a little haphazard, so I want to lay out a plan so I can systematically work through it.  I think that the 10 point blueprint by Elizabeth Shown Mills will probably be my foundation. (Deadline: July 20)


Motivation Monday – Goals, Goals and more Goals

I’ve been a very goal driven person for as long as I can remember.  Growing up, I had personal goals, goals for sports I was involved in, goals for school, etc.  In my adult life, the habit has remained with me…I have had and continue to have financial, personal, professional, and even educational goals.  Interestingly, in my genealogy, that habit never really formed very well.  I don’t know if it was because genealogy was a passion/obsession and a “hobby” or if it was just that I didn’t quite understand how to set goals for my genealogy research, but I’ve never been much of a goal-setter in that realm.

That has all changed over the past few months.  It started with some basic “To Do” lists and the habit has finally set in so that each month I review last month, and set a few new goals for the coming month.  Since I find that being held accountable by another person helps with achieving goals, I thought I would start sharing my monthly and annual goals here on the blog.

June is going to be a busy month with a trip back home for a week, so I trimmed back on what I’m planning to accomplish, but here are June’s goals:

1)  Write two blog posts per week.  This is actually a scaling back goal for me.  I want to pull back on the volume of my blog posts and concentrate more on the quality of the posts.  Hopefully over the next month or so, my readers will see a positive change in the posts here!

2)  Finish reading Thomas W. Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof.  This is in preparation for a study group that I am in which begins on July 1.  I want to finish reading the book one time through completely before going back and fully studying it.

3)  Complete the organization of my paper files.  I have been trying to get all of my paper research filed in the appropriate surname and family folders so that I can go back and start on more in-depth analysis of each piece that I have.

4)  Catch up on other genealogy reading.  I have several white papers that I’ve downloaded that I just need to sit down and read through.

5)  Evaluate the Evidentia software program.  I just need to install the program and work with it for a while to see if it is something I want to continue using.

So there you have it…my June goals.  I can’t say that they are overly exciting or anything, but no one ever said that genealogy was exciting all of the time!

Motivation Monday – Passion or obsession?

Have you ever been told you are obsessed with dead people?  I have — multiple times!

I have found almost since I started doing my genealogy research two decades ago, that many friends and family see my enthusiasm for this research as some sort of “obsessive” behavior that just isn’t “normal”.  They may be right about the not normal part of it, but I think that “obsession” would be the wrong word to describe it.  I much prefer to call it a passion, and actually, if you understand my education, it really would be a rather normal passion.

I suppose explaining that I majored in Political Science and minored in history in college would help people begin to understand a little bit.  I have a natural predilection to historical research.  If you look at my bookshelves at home, the vast majority of what I have on the shelves are either political, current events, or historical books.  From as early as I can remember, history has been an absolute fascination for me.

When I was introduced to the idea of genealogical research twenty years ago, it was a natural fit with what I was studying in college at the time, and the idea of studying my family history just added to the fire.  I realized that I had the opportunity to see how my family fit into the bigger picture of history.  I didn’t have any grandiose ideas that I would find that I was related to some major historical figure (though I have since discovered a distant connection to a U.S. President and a rumor of connections to royalty), but I wanted to see how an average family fit into the grander picture.

I can’t say that I have maintained my passion consistently for the past twenty years.  I put aside my research for probably close to a decade.  I had very young children, had moved to a new area, started my own business and was trying to juggle all of that.  Needless to say, my hobbies and passions were laid aside in favor of the more mundane tasks of life.  In the past couple of years, I have rekindled that passion.  At first it was to finish one of my original goals — membership in the Sons of the American Revolution — and then the passion for genealogy in general took over again.  I enjoy the learning process, the frustration of the hunt, the thrill of the find, and even the tedium of the documentation.  Most of all, I truly enjoy and have a passion for finding out where my family came from and how we fit into the grand picture of world history.

Am I obsessed with dead people?  Well, I prefer to think of it as being passionate about my family, but I suppose that if I look at it from the perspective of the casual observer, yeah, I am obsessed with dead people.

My question is, why isn’t everyone??

Motivation Monday – Finding the key

“Motivation Monday” is a blogging prompt from Geneabloggers that is supposed to prompt us to write about our goals or our own motivation for doing our family history research.  After my post yesterday about the age gap in genealogy, I decided to use this Motivation Monday as a continuation of that discussion and talk about how we get younger generations motivated to want to do family history research.

The question of how to motivate someone to do something that is, quite honestly, hard work, is a difficult one at best.  Let’s face it, every experienced genealogist has probably at one point or another found themselves staring at the mountain of research and wondered just why they keep doing this.  In the article I mentioned yesterday, the author says that to be successful at family history research, the researcher must have a high level of internal motivation because there just aren’t that many tangible rewards in this “hobby.”  I both agree and disagree with that assessment.

Internal motivation is a huge key in family history research without a doubt.  There has to be something inside of us that drives us to keep going forward when there doesn’t seem to be any other “goal” in sight.  However, that is true of any past time that is hard work whether it be genealogy, sports, or anything else.  The real challenge is not to find the internal motivation, it is to find that external “jump start” motivation that gets us going and keeps us going.

The possibilities for external motivations for the younger generations are as limitless as the stories we run across doing our research.  As a matter of fact, it is those stories that can be the motivation.  Find an intriguing story about one of your ancestors (such as the story I have posted before about my ancestor who fought in the American Revolution) and pass it down to someone younger.  What teen or young adult wouldn’t be fascinated and intrigued by finding out that they are related to someone who fought in the American Revolution?  Or in my case, you should have seen the looks in my daughter’s eyes when I told them that they were related to President Dwight Eisenhower.  Or pass on a family “legend” that you are seeking to prove or disprove.  Again, telling someone from the younger generation that they may possibly be related to Mary, Queen of Scots is a pretty fantastic motivator!

If there aren’t intriguing stories in your family history (which I seriously doubt that many of us have no stories), then find out about the past times of your ancestors and relate those to younger generations.  Or talk to them about how their ancestors would have viewed the current events of their time.  Imagine talking to someone younger about what their great great grandfather thought about the Lincoln assassination or what their ancestors thought about slavery or the War of 1812.

The possibilities for motivating younger generations to get involved in family history research are limitless.  It will, however, take some hard work on our part to relate to younger people, find out what might provide that spark and then dig into our vast resource of family history stories and share the one that will spark them.  After all, isn’t genealogy really about passing on those stories and keeping our family history alive?