Tag Archives: Goals

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.


  • 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


  • 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.

A Quick Update

It has been several months since I’ve managed to post on this blog. I have plans for several new series topics so stay tuned. In the meantime, here is a quick update on what I’ve been up to.

I have been asked to give a lot of NEW lectures this year, which means I have a lot of work to do to get prepared. So I’ve been working on all of the leg work required to create an entirely new lecture for many lectures! This is a blessing but it has taken time away from blogging, but will no doubt give me ideas on blog topics to share with you later.

My 90 year old grandmother came to visit for 2 weeks last month. This too was a blessing, but one that kept me from my typical work schedule. (This is not a complaint at all, just letting you know that what’s happening in the “real world” is often much more important than what is happening in my computer world.) We had a great time visiting, touring Austin and surrounding areas, and trying to come up with things that a 90 year old may not have done yet. (We took my grandma to a Roller Derby. There was a fist fight, just like in hockey. That did the job!)

Me on the left, grandma on the right, Roller Derby in the middle!

I have recently been appointed the Education Chair for the Austin Genealogical Society and have had a great time developing and teaching Saturday classes for the group. I have also been asked to speak at local societies and so my speaking schedule is picking up since moving to Texas about 1.5 years ago.

Not to mention all of the other projects I do such as writing articles, curriculum and Quick Guides.

I haven’t even mentioned that my 15 year old son has gotten his learner’s license and we take drives on the weekends. He has gotten better each time and so I no longer feel like I might die each time we go out, only sometimes, typically when he drifts across the shoulder line because he is not sure how big the car is or when he takes a 90-degree corner without slowing down enough. And my daughter was in basketball and the school musical and in band…

The list could go on and on. But I wanted to let you know, I’m still here, still working, and am hoping to be back on a regular blogging schedule soon.

Looking ahead to 2015

Austin_NewYearAnother year gone… How did that happen? They say time flies when you are having fun. I find it flies when you are busy. And 2014 sure was busy for me, many life changes and major projects happened for me. Now, looking forward to 2015 here is what I have planned:

  • Since I just recently moved to Texas, a state I know very little about and have almost no genealogical connections with, I plan on adopting a Texas ancestor or two and working on their family histories just so I can see first hand how Texas genealogy works. For fun, my husband and I walk cemeteries along with the Find A Grave app on our phones and photograph tombstones. We did this recently and I found some precious, hand-carved stones in a not very well-kept cemetery and I plan on looking those folks up, just to see who they were. Perhaps they will have their stories written. (Watch for blog posts on this one, I expect it to be fun!)
  • In line with the previous goal, I plan on finding and exploring the repositories here in the Austin area that are unfamiliar to me. I know of several but have only visited them virtually. For example, the actual Perry Castaneda Map Collection is only 29 minutes from my new home. I have visited the map collection many times online, but imagine visiting in person!
  • Make new genealogical friends. I plan on doing this by joining some new local societies. Some of my best friends are genealogists. And I’m sad I had to leave some of them when we moved, and I miss the opportunity to meet them for coffee and chat about our research.
  • Begin speaking locally be the end of 2015. I imagine I will make connections by joining societies and will likely be able to garner a few speaking “gigs” in the area.
  • Continue my genealogical education. I already have several opportunities in line for this. More and more online opportunities are happening every year making it much easier for those of use who can only travel so much per year, to still have contact with the wider genealogical community.
  • Write articles. I let this one “slide” last year. Well, maybe it got put on the back burner because of my portfolio. But I love to write and I want to get back to writing articles.

While working on my list of goals, an excellent post was published on the Evernote Blog by Michael Hyatt detailing an amazingly simple way to use Evernote to create your list of goals, detail why you want to achieve them, and track them. You can read the blog post here.

I think I’ll keep my goals “light” for this year and see what happens in my new surroundings. I am finding it difficult to make too many plans in this new location. I’m not entirely sure what is available, what needs there are in the community, who is “out there” already doing genealogical “things” and whether they want help or a different perspective. I am going to take this year to get used to my new location and make new connections. Then I can probably make better plans.

Perhaps I will do a six-month renewal of goals. Who knows?

2014 In Review

2014 was a whirlwind, drawn by author

At the start of 2014 I posted my goals for the year. They were pretty simple:

1. Get my BCG portfolio turned in (My deadline is December 15, 2014!)
2. Write at least 3 major articles (These are aside from those that may appear in my home society’s quarterly.)
3. Gain 1 new client per month
4. Speak/teach at least 12 times this year

I only fully accomplished one of those goals: the first one, turn in my portfolio. And in hindsight, I think that’s ok. The portfolio process is huge. I am not sure that anyone can quite describe how big it truly is. It is like when we got pregnant with our first child. People said “Oh your life will never be the same.” Or “you will never really have time to yourself for the next 18 years.” (Really helpful, by the way.) We quickly found out that they were right, but I truly think there’s no way to know just how right they were BEFORE we had babies. There are just no words to describe the enormity of it. I feel that same way about the portfolio, well almost. People told me it would be a challenge, but I didn’t understand really, just how much of a challenge, until I did it. Just like babies.

As for the other goals. Here is what I actually did:

  • I did not write any articles for major publications, but I did write a new guide: Legacy QuickGuide™ “Obituaries in Genealogy: A Research Tool,” June 2014. I also wrote a new course for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies which is slated for release in 2015.
  • I gained 2 new clients, for small projects, which is ok because of goal number one.
  • I gave 7 lectures in 2014. I had at least 5 more scheduled but since we ended up moving to Texas in September, I had to cancel those.

I also moved my entire household (well the movers did most of it), husband, children, pets, belongings, and so on, from Colorado to Texas. And just to give you a little context, I had only been to Texas a total of 2 times before we decided to move! That alone has “challenge” written all over it. Just getting to the grocery store was a “challenge” for the first few weeks. Not to mention finding new doctors, dentists, boy and girl scout troops, school, favorite coffee shops (still haven’t found it), favorite breakfast spot (still working on that one too), and of course a new genealogical society to call home.

Even though on “paper” it looks like I didn’t do much this year, believe me, it has been a whirlwind!

New Goals for 2014

HappyNewYearAs we look ahead to the new year, we tend to plan for new adventures, things we’d like to improve, goals we’d like to reach and a year better than the last. While we can’t plan for what we can’t control, we can make goals for what we can.

This is my 2014 “wish list” for myself, genealogically speaking:

  1. Get my BCG portfolio turned in (My deadline is December 15, 2014!)
  2. Write at least 3 major articles (These are aside from those that may appear in my home society’s quarterly.)
  3. Gain 1 new client per month
  4. Speak/teach at least 12 times this year

Ok, that list feels short to me. But look at number 1! I’m going to keep the list short because that first one is a doozy! I really should just make that one item the only goal I expect from myself this year, but I am an overachiever so of course I put more items on my list.

Good luck to you and I hope you take some time to make a few goals for yourself this year.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!


Year End Recap – Unplanned Goals

My Gold-Star Certificate
My Gold-Star Certificate

We can plan and plan, but life always has a plan of its own. Sometimes things come up that take you off course of your own goals, and sometimes that is for the better. When you look back at the things you accomplish, you may notice that sometimes things happen that you hadn’t planned on, opportunities “knocked” and you opened the door.

Here are some things that I accomplished this year that I hadn’t planned on:

Continuing Education Program – I had the opportunity to develop and teach a 4-week beginning genealogy class through my local community college.

FGS committee – I was asked to participate on a committee with FGS. It was a lot of fun and great to meet and work with some genealogists that I really admire and respect.

Gold Star – I had the surprise and pleasure of earning a gold star from Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Advanced Methods course at IGHR.

Legacy Quick Guides – I had the opportunity to write five legacy quick guides, which was an amazing experience. They are:

Sometimes the goals you don’t plan turn out to be some of the best accomplishments you didn’t plan for. Take a look back over your year and see what you’ve done you didn’t plan on. You might be pleasantly surprised.