Category Archives: Genealogical Goals

Goals and plans for my genealogical career.

2020 Mid-Year Update

Every year I write a post about my upcoming adventures in genealogy at least as I have planned at that point. Last December, I posted about the plans I had for the year and, with no idea about what was about to hit us this year, wrote about goal-setting. (Ha! I’d like to report most of my goals have been sidetracked and my latest goal is to get dressed everyday.)

So, most of my speaking engagements either got canceled by the sponsoring society or by me because I don’t feel that it is safe to travel this year (and possibly next, we shall see). I was able to convert one to a virtual event (the Caprock Genealogy Conference). The most recent to convert to virtual is the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference. I will be giving a class on finding and keeping volunteers, and workshop on using Google Maps to Plan and Analyze your Research.

This week, I am the coordinator for a new course for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) “Following Your Ancestors in Time and Place.” We started on Monday and it has been a great week so far!

The course is meant to be an enjoyable “journey” through some of the processes for following ancestors as they arrived in the United States, why they may have decided to come, how they might have moved through the country, records they may have left along the way, some methodologies on how to find those records, and some in-depth tips on how to keep all of that information organized.

This course is a little different than most courses in that we have one instructor for each day:

  • Monday – Rich Venezia – “FindingYourAncestors as theyCome to America”
  • Tuesday – David McDonald – “Religion and Records: Colonials & Immigrants”
  • Wednesday – Paula Stuart-Warren – “Finding Your Ancestors as they Moved and Migrated in the United States”
  • Thursday – Me (Cari Taplin) – “Methodology for Finding Ancestors in Published Sources and Beyond”
  • Friday – Cyndi Ingle – “Organizing and Maintaining Your Research Once You’ve Collected It”

I feel like we created a great line-up of super-stars who are the best in the field in their respective themes.

Having class in a virtual setting has its pros and cons (I like sleeping in my own bed every night and not missing my family while I’m away. BUT I miss seeing my friends in person and visiting my dear friend Rose Mary in Pittsburgh when I come to town.)

I hope you are doing ok making the switch to a virtual world. I know change is hard but I think this could have benefits for people who are homebound, can’t afford the travel, have other responsibilities that keeps them at home. This virtual option is opening the door for so many who haven’t been able to participate before and I want to welcome them aboard!

My scheduled speaking events for the rest of this year:

Maybe I’ll “see” you there!

My CG has been renewed!!!

I received word today––after what felt like an eternity––that my CG has been renewed for another five years! YAY!

What does that mean? All CGs (Certified Genealogist®) have to submit a renewal portfolio to the Board for Certification of Genealogists to prove that they are keeping up if not improving their skills after having passed the first time. The renewal requirements FiveMoreYearsare less intense than the initial portfolio, but I am here to tell you that the worry and stress and fear while waiting the second time is much more intense! Why? I was chatting with colleague and pal Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, [thank you, Judy, for your constant encouragement!] and discussing the stress I was feeling while waiting to hear if I’d passed. She put it into words: The first time you have nothing to lose. The second (and subsequent times) they can take away your credentials! And then what would I do? I suspect I’d hide under a rock for a while.

To be fair, if one is participating in continuing education and focusing on strengthening weak areas in their skills, there really should be no worry. And I did that. I read the first set of judges’ comments many times, determining where my weak spots were, and worked to improve those areas. Apparently, it worked! (Though it did not stop the little voice in my head that likes to present me with worst-case scenarios all of the time!)

Now that the stress of waiting is over, I can breathe again. Next up: to plan my next renewal project!

Five Goals You Should Set for 2020: Part 5, Writing Goals

In the last post, I talked about setting personal research goals, primarily in the form of giving yourself permission to work on your own research. Set aside whatever amount of time your schedule can afford and work on some of your own projects! Along with that research, you should also tack on some writing goals. That research doesn’t do a whole lot of good if it isn’t in a form that can be shared whether with your family or through publication. I challenge you to submit your work to be published. This can be at a national level, but if that intimidates you, try a local or state publication instead.

books-690219_1920I can hear many of you saying “I’m not a good writer.” And to that, I say “pish posh!” That is what editors are for. Editors (whether they are a trusted friend, someone you hire, or that from a journal) make your writing better! Don’t let that “I’m not a good writer” thought stop you from doing it. I sit in my office every day and look at my binders and worry that someday I’m going to come to a point in my life when I don’t get that work published somewhere, anywhere, where it can be used by future researchers. (I used to say “what if I’m hit by a bus” until a friend was literally hit by a bus, don’t worry, she’s ok. Another friend told me to think “what if I win the lottery and move to a private island” instead. She’s right. That’s a lot more fun to imagine. But even then, I’d probably figure out how to get the internet and do genealogical research even on my island.)

Just get it down on paper (or computer screen)!

There are ways to do this. I have plans for a future blog series as well as a possible online group for writers (stay tuned!). There are local writer’s groups at many genealogical societies. Consider starting one if there isn’t one near you. At the very least find a genealogical friend or two who you get along with and who is also interested in getting editing/writing help. You can do this with friends you meet at institutes or conferences and use online means such as through email, Facebook, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or some other online communication system.

My writing goals for this year fall into two categories:

  • Write one article per month, of any style: how-to, biographical sketch, case study, etc. (12 articles by the end of the year) for publication somewhere.
  • Write one article for consideration for NGSQ.

I find I am working or writing a lot. I need to try to translate that into smaller articles that can be published in my local or state society quarterlies, or in larger national magazines. I also want to put the work I do into one of those personal research projects into an NGSQ-level article. They may not accept it but the goal is not in the accepting at this point. It’s in the submitting.

If you are interested in getting better at the act of writing (not necessarily the nuts and bolts of it), the biggest obstacle is the blank page. Just get started! Easier said than done sometimes, I know and understand. But sometimes it just takes some brute force to get going. Once you’ve got words on the screen, the magic of cut and paste, deleting and rewriting will help you make it “pretty.” Don’t worry about “pretty” when you’re getting started. Just get it out of your head. Worry about pretty later.

Let me know about your writing goals. Stay tuned for writing classes and groups in the future!

Five Goals You Should Set for 2020: Part 4, Research Goals

If you are like me, a busy schedule usually pushes personal research aside. And if you’re like me, you get tired of not getting a chance to work on your own genealogy! It is the reason I got into all of this in the first place! Well, this year, let’s set a goal to give ourselves permission to take a little time for ourselves and do some of our own research again!

A few times last year, I gave myself permission to work on my own research on a IMG_3939particular day of the week. Now, I was not able to be super consistent with it, but it was so nice when I was able to just put work aside and do some research for myself. It was refreshing, revitalizing, and fun. Those times have convinced me to make this a more consistent part of my routine. My schedule is just hectic enough that I’ll have to make this plan on a week by week basis, but I use the Full Focus Planner (mentioned in previous posts, but any planner will work) and plan my week on Sunday night or Monday morning. So, I will figure out where I can do 2 or 3 hours of my own research each week.

I recently found a post by Janine Adams who is doing a 30×30 challenge this month. I will be in Salt Lake City at SLIG for two weeks, so I’m considering doing this in February. The idea is to do 30 minutes of genealogy research for 30 days. I think the timing doesn’t matter. If you want to do it in October, go for it. But I really like the idea of giving yourself permission to do your own research for a particular amount of time.

A few months ago I turned in my Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) renewal portfolio (yes it has been five years! and I’m still waiting to hear the results, keep your fingers and toes crossed!) and since that project is complete, I want to move on to some family lines that I have neglected. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I want to work on identifying some of my German ancestors. So, my plan is to pick up a couple of those lines and get to work!

You might take an inventory of the research you’ve completed, where you’ve gotten stuck, where your interests lie (some of those ancestors really call to us to work on them), or where you just haven’t worked on your tree much. Decide on a line or two to work on. Pick something meaningful.

Are you one of those people who have gotten so busy with genealogy work (volunteer or paid) that you don’t often have time to work on your own research? Have you figured out any tips for getting through this? Let’s work on this together this year! Let’s feel the joy again!

Five Goals You Should Set for 2020: Part 3, Business or Professional Goals

If you are a professional genealogist or want to be, then you may want to set some professional or business goals. This starts with an assessment of where you’ve been and where you’d like to be. I shared some of my business accomplishments for 2019 in a previous post. From those numbers, I can make some goals for 2020.

Typically, I assess areas where I am weak in business (marketing usually) and try to find some educational material to help me improve on that. I also assess my numbers from previous years and make some goals for the new year. For example, last year I presented two all-day seminars. For 2020, I’d like to double that. Or I might extend that goal to say in 2021 I’d like to have six all-day seminars scheduled.

I also look at the number of clients and/or client hours worked for each year. Some client projects are longer/larger than others, so the number of clients may be misleading. But I try to pay attention to both. Last year I had sixteen total NEW clients. Every year projects will overlap a bit so I try to focus on new clients, those that signed new contracts in the calendar year. However, several of those new clients renewed their contracts two, three, or four times. So I also pay attention to the number of client hours.

Now, you can’t just say “I’d like to double the number of clients I sign up this year” and expect that to work in your schedule. I still have a kid at home, one who just moved out, and a husband, so I need to plan for family time. I also, speak, write articles, and take consultation clients. I have to leave time for those activities, not to mention my own personal research and continuing education time. Having said that, there is a threshold bullet-2428875_1920that once met, you could hire a virtual assistant and/or subcontractors and take on even more clients. I haven’t met that threshold yet and so will cross that bridge when I get there!

So, take a look at your business or professional setting. Are there areas you’d like to expand? Are there areas you’d like to eliminate or phase out? (Sometimes letting go of one aspect of your business allows you to grow in another.) Would you like to take on more research clients? Speaking gigs? DNA consultations? Does public-speaking stress you out? If so, consider writing articles instead.

Find a way to track this information, whether it is in a spreadsheet, database, word processor, a notebook, something. Then you can have real data to work with. I personally use a combination of tools: Toggl (time tracking), 17Hats (client management), Quickbooks Online, and my Full Focus Planner (paper planner). It works for me. These systems are as individual as the people using them. Find something that will work for you.

Take an inventory of your business/professional life. Make some assessments. Set some goals. Be organized and methodical about those goals. But most of all, have fun doing it. Stretch yourself a little bit more every year.

Five Goals You Should Set for 2020: Part 2, Set an Education Plan

Continuing education is an important part of any vocation or hobby. Keeping up with the latest developments, learning about new topics, and strengthening areas you are weak in are vital for growth and development. So, let’s look at developing a genealogy education plan.

First, you’ll need to do some self-assessment. There are ways to go about this, usually, they are quite individual so take my process for what you can and adapt to what will work for you. Typically, I ask myself these three questions:

  • Where am I weakest in terms of record type, geographic area (that applies to my research or client work), ethnic group, or methodology?
  • What research (usually personal, not client-related) do I want to expand? And what kinds of education do I need to do that (usually geography related)?
  • Are there areas in my business where I need help, more information, a better system, or another area where I can find a class or webinar to help me improve?

Then, I examine the lecture, webinar, institutes, conferences, and other opportunities to IMG_3920_1024fill in those blanks. I will also seek out books, articles, blog posts, past webinars, and YouTube videos that might help start my education in that area.

Over the last several years, my education, in general, has focused on DNA and genetic genealogy methodology. When I moved from Colorado to Texas, I spent the first year learning about Texas history (fascinating!), ethnic groups, repositories, and research techniques specific to this area.

Looking ahead to 2020 and 2021, I know I want to dig deeper into my personal research overseas, specifically in Germany. I am planning on attending the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) in July and taking “Foundations of German Research” with Warren Bittner, for example. There are also a number of webinars on the topic at Legacy Family Tree Webinars1, and over the years I have purchased several books that I need to read (you don’t have a pile of books to read, do you?).

You can get very specific with your research plan. I know colleagues who employ entire spreadsheets to the topic. I try to set aside time each week (usually a couple of hours) devoted to something on that education plan (a webinar, article, book, etc.). Then I try to apply what I’ve learned to what I’m working on. It is a real shame when you attend an institute and then don’t have time to work with anything you just learned! So, that couple of hours per week is spent learning and applying to a research project.

There are a lot of new opportunities coming up all of the time, many of them online which cuts down the cost of travel. There are many webinars as well as several new online courses available through Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), National Genealogical Society (NGS), Virtual Genealogical Association (VGA), and others. I am working on some new online courses in addition to the NGSQ study groups I started so stay tuned for those.

Let me know what your 2020 education plans might hold. I’m always interested in what educational opportunities are available in the world!


1. This is an affiliate link.  

Five Goals You Should Set for 2020: Part 1, Get Organized

It’s 2020! Every new year I get a bit excited about the possibilities. It is like a blank page or a new canvas. The possibilities are endless and amazing. But if you are a disorganized mess, you might miss out on those opportunities simply because you are buried in your disorganization (whatever that looks like in your life). I’d hate for that to happen to you! It took me a while to get a hold of it and it is still an ongoing process. I get busy, things pile up, and before you know it, I need a day just to get back in control.

This blog series will touch on the five categories I generally set or review for myself each year: organization, education, business/professional, research, and writing. First, let’s talk about organization.

I’ve written extensively on getting organized recently, so I won’t go into detail here. But books-948411_1280getting your genealogy organized can be a big time-saver in the long run. I encourage you to look at any system for organization and just take the leap and get it done. This is not something you sit down and do one day, usually. There’s a process: pick a system (this involves a little trial and error) then DO the system (get everything “synced” to the new system).

Beyond what I’ve written about, there are a lot of resources for getting organized when it comes to your genealogy. Thomas MacEntee hosted a Genealogy Do-Over a few years back (there’s still an active Facebook Group). Dear Myrtle did a “Finally Get Organized” series on her blog. Most recently, the Genealogy Guys have been posting on their blog 31 days to getting organized, starting with Day 1.

Here are some more resources:

There are plenty more out there. This is just a short list of resources. The main point is, do some research, think about your personal genealogy, and decide on a system that will work for you. Then get started. I’m a big fan of just working on a large task in small bites. Set a timer and do 15, 30, or 60 minutes per day, whatever your schedule or patience will allow. But get started!

Goal Setting: Looking Ahead to 2020

I don’t know about you but I have some big plans for 2020! I always feel a bit of excitement as the new year gets closer. I am not sure if I feel exhausted at the end of a year from all of the hub-bub of the holidays, or if it’s the Winter doldrums (short days and the yearning to hibernate), but I start to feel a bit “draggy” and thinking about the new year gives me excitement.

For 2020, I already have a considerable number of conference speaking contracts as well as three all-day seminars scheduled so far! I list my upcoming lectures and seminars on my Speaking Calendar on my website (can be found in the menu bar at the top). I have also just received a contract for a large project to be done at the beginning of 2020.

One of the biggest plans I have for 2020 is the development of my new National Genealogical Society Quarterly with Mastering Genealogical Proof (NGSQ/MGP) discussion groups. There are still a couple of seats available in the Monday afternoon session. I am excited to work with old and new friends in these groups, studying these scholarly journals through the lens of MGP and the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).

Some of my 2020 travel plans include:

I will be presenting three lectures for the Houston Genealogical Forum in February. The Tulsa, Oklahoma Library has hired me to present an all-day seminar in March. And I have a few other things that will be announced as the details are settled. I have a busy speaking year ahead of me!

Other goals I have are to write several articles (ideas still forming) and continue building my client base through speaking, writing, and blogging.HappyNewYear

I hope you can find some time to assess what you’ve accomplished in the previous year and make some plans on how to grow or change in the new year.

Happy New Year!

Goal Setting: 2019 Accomplishments

Every year at the end of the year I assess what happened during the year, what I accomplished, what goals I achieved, what continuing education I participated for myself, how many new clients hired me this year, articles I wrote, and so on.

I have examined my records and can report the following accomplishments.

Speaking

  • Workshops: 3
  • Online Discussion Groups: 3check-1769866_1920
  • National Conference Presentations: 6
  • Webinars: 6
  • All-Day Seminars: 2
  • One-hour lectures (for hire): 4
  • Local Classes (volunteer): 10

Client Work

  • New clients: 16 total
    • 8 projects finished
    • 8 in progress

Writing

  • Articles Written: 9
  • Blog posts: consistently, once per week, usually on Wednesday, since June 2019
  • New Lectures: 6
  • NGSQ article submitted for consideration: 1

Continuing Education

  • Institutes attended: 3
  • Seminars attended: 3
  • Discussion Groups: 2

Other Accomplishments:

  • BCG Renewal Portfolio turned in! (Yes, it’s been five years and I’m still waiting for the results.)

I tend to delve a little deeper into each of these categories and really assess what worked and what didn’t (in my eyes), paying particular attention to what I enjoyed, what stressed me out more than I like, and what I really feel is worth continuing. Then I focus on those items and make goals for next year.

My next post will examine my goals for 2020 and discuss some of the plans I already have implemented!

Making Goals: Assess Your Wants & Needs

We are nearing the new year and it’s always a good time to make assessments. Where have you been? What have you accomplished? What did you enjoy? What did you hate? And then how can you improve on what you’ve done before?

Begin by assessing this year’s activities. This can be done for all aspects of life, but we will focus on our genealogy life in this series. I tend to assess things like how many lectures did I deliver this year, how many new lectures did I write, how many institutes did I attend (as a student) and what were the topics I focused on, what research did I do this year (general topic/surname), list any big projects I completed, etc.

Some of my goal categories are:

    • Blog Posts
    • Lectures
    • Continuing Education (institutes & conferences)
    • Clients
    • Articles
    • Research Projects

I keep track of what I do in several ways. I have my digital calendar. I use the built-in Mac calendar synced to a Google calendar. On there, I have several calendars such as my family calendar, my personal work calendar, and my speaking calendar (that I’ve posted to my website, see the menu bar above). I also keep a folder (both digital and paper, imagine that) of my speaking contracts for the year, as well as a paper calendar where I calendarsketch out the speaking agreements I’ve made. This helps me visualize when I have free time, when I need to plan time for travel, and so on.

I also use a paper journal/planner system. I personally like Michael Hyatt’s Full-Focus Planner (this is NOT an affiliate link). It incorporates goal-setting with a daily planner. I find that I am more productive when I can have my paper planner sitting open on my desk in front of me. I can see my daily goals and tasks. Digital calendars, to-do lists, and notifications are too easy to ignore. They start to blend in with all of the other “noise” that my devices make.

Toward the end of the year, I sit down and tally up the above from my system(s). Then I compare that from the year before (if you haven’t been keeping track, it will take a year to catch up). I assess if I’ve done better (hopefully) or worse (hopefully not). I also assess what I enjoyed and what I did not enjoy. There’s no sense in making goals and completing them if you aren’t enjoying doing it.

Once you’ve assessed your past performance and activities, you can then look ahead and determine your needs and goals for the next year. I will dig into this more in the next post.