Tag Archives: research goals

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.

Preparing for a Research Trip – Setting Research Goals

notepadEstablishing why you want to do anything is always a good first step whether it is genealogy-related or in some other aspect of life. You can’t know if you made it if you don’t know where you are going. There are many books, blogs, magazines, TV shows and so forth about defining and researching your goals and all of those can apply to genealogy too.

What do you want to accomplish? What is the question(s) you wish to answer? If you are like me you have many, many, many research goals. Some common goals might be similar to the following:

  • Who were my immigrant ancestors?
  • Where are all of my 2xgreat grandparents’ graves?
  • Where was the family farm of my 3xgreat grandfather in Wood County, Ohio?
  • etc…

A research trip might be just the thing to find the answers to these questions. Before you go, be sure you have clearly defined your goals for the trip. These goals can take on many forms. I will go over research plans in a future post, but generally I start with a word document and I create a table for each of my research questions. In this table I will list each repository I wish to visit and what documents or record sets I plan on exploring. An electronic document is great because you can add to it and change it to meet your needs. I can add notes right into the table regarding my findings. This later helps with analysis and correlation of my data as well.

Defining your goals and research plans will save you a lot of time when you arrive at your research destination. I have been known to spend at least the first day during a research trip using the repository catalogs. What a waste of time! Working in the catalog of a repository is something that can usually be done at home now, there’s no reason not to be prepared.