Goal Planning for an Epic Research Year | The Armchair Genealogist
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Goal Planning for an Epic Research Year

(Part 2, in our 3-Part Series Making 2017 an Epic Research Year)  Read Part 1 Here

We’ve come up with 7 steps to help you achieve your goals in 2017. But not just your research goals. While you can certainly use the following steps to assist you in outlining only your research goals for 2017, I would encourage you to review all of your life goals at the same time. Life is about balance. And if you are not allowing time in your schedule for yourself, work and your hobbies then chances are you won’t be successful with your genealogy research. In fact, I’ve spent the last week working on a little exercise to determine my ‘word’ for 2017. It’s shaping up to be 'Balance'.  After doing a little review of last year, I’ve come to realize that my life was out of balance. I was dedicating a lot of time to helping others write,  don’t get me wrong I love it, and find great reward in it.  But, I wasn’t dedicating any time to my own personal writing or researching for that matter, or proper exercise or eating healthy. That was really hit and miss. So this year, with ‘balance’ as my keyword, I’m going to work on making sure I exercise every day in some format, scheduling research time and personal writing on my calendar.  Here are the steps I’m taking to make it happen.

Grab yourself a simple notebook, and let’s begin.

 1. Take Inventory
First up, we need to take an inventory of what we’ve accomplished in 2016.  What were you most proud of? What were some of your high points? But also consider some of those low points that you don’t wish to repeat in 2017.  Accomplishments? What things do you not want to be repeated?  What do you want to do more of? Did fear hold you back from completing a goal in 2016? Do you have any unfinished goals from 2016 that you need to carry over? Do you have any unfinished goals you are prepared to let go of, they no longer align with your direction?

 2. List Areas for Goals
Next, list the areas in your life where you want results. Clearly, genealogy research is a big area for us. And if that is all you want to address in this exercise that is fine. But like I said above, balance is essential, if one area of your life is off, it will most likely throw all areas of your life off.  So don’t be afraid to list as many areas in your life that you want to set some new goals for.
Here a few areas you can include, genealogy research, blogging, writing, health, relationships, me time, career, business. These are just a few, do have any others we could add to this list?

3. List Your Goals for Each Area
Now it’s time to think out some big epic goals for each of these areas. Of course, your goals don’t have to be massive, but hey, let’s push ourselves, reach out of our comfort zone. (In case you missed that lesson on Monday.)

4. Choose SMART Goals
Make sure your goals are smart; specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and with targets.  For example, let’s suppose you want to set a goal to find your 3rd Great – Irish grandfather’s birth certificate. Not a realistic goal.  Because you can’t control the outcome.  But, what you can control is that you will exhaust all resources in searching for this birth certificate.  You can create a list of archives to write letters to,  sign up for a database like FindMyPast, take a class in Irish Genealogy or perhaps plan a trip to Ireland. It’s similar to making a goal to lose 10 pounds. You can’t really control how much weight you lose, but you can change what and how much you eat, how much exercise you’ll engage in and then just maybe that last 10 lbs will fall off. But you know even if it doesn’t, and it only ends up being 8 lbs, you know you’ve done your best, and you are healthier. The same can be said for your research goals. You may not find that birth certificate, but you know you've left no stone unturned and you'll be wiser for the experience. Be very specific about your goals. 

5. Create small manageable steps
Now that you have identified your goals it’s time to take each goal and divide into small manageable steps. Create 3 to 5 smaller steps for each goal. The size of the goal will indicate how many steps are required. Some will need more, others less.

6. Find your support team
Next, you need to identify the people in your life who are going to help you achieve your goals. For each goal, choose one person you could lean on for a little help. That one person should have some experience or expertise on that topic. Try to attach one name to each goal. Don’t forget to ask them to be your go-to person and identify exactly what kind of support you are looking for. Is it a weekly Skype chat, an email check-in once a week, an archive partner or someone to read your family history stories and give you feedback. Make it clear to them what that support looks like for you.

7. Schedule in Your Calendar
Every goal we attempt will take time in our lives. If you don’t put those goals on the calendar and make them a priority in your life, they just won’t happen. I preach this all the time to my family history writers.  When we physically place our goals on the calendar, we give them importance. Also,  we can see if were taking on way too much.  This then results in not having enough time to reach your goals and disappointment ensues. But, when we put them on the calendar, we can be realistic about what we have time for, eliminating the possibility of overshooting our goals and ending up frustrated.

I’ve been sharing this Ted Talk in my social media outlets, so, I will share it here. I think it will resonate.

Now, you have all seven steps, from taking your inventory to scheduling your small manageable steps into your calendar.  This week, each day, tackle one of the steps above. This gives you time between each step to ponder those goals and make good choices. Dedicate 15-30 minutes each day to complete each step.  It won’t overwhelm your calendar. Don’t you hate it when you don’t even have time in your day to set some new goals? If this is you, then you really need to step back and reassess your 2017. By the end of 7 days, you’ll have sound, realistic, and measurable goals on your calendar.  And you’ll be ready for an Epic 2017.

 I’m giving you the weekend to work on those goals. And on Tuesday, we’ll look at habits. Because let’s be real, writing down a goal doesn’t make it happen.  The magic happens when you put new habits in place to achieve those goals. 

Feel free to share your goals in the comment section below.