A Genealogist’s 6 Steps to Killer New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year from the long-ago me!
Happy New Year from the long-ago me!

From my earliest days, I’ve been known to literally drool over a good, juicy New Year’s resolution. Yes, this is me drooling.

Many years ago on January 1, 1976, I made a New Year’s resolution that got me started doing genealogy. I was a new  mom and it was the Bicentennial year. Tracing my family history seemed a good way to celebrate both events. And at the time, I thought my goal was pretty simple – learn more about my 8 great and my 16 great-great grandparents. 

You couldn’t have told me then that my family history journey would end up spanning almost 40 years of my life, take me back through many generations and uncover hundreds of ancestors, not just the 24 people I was originally searching for. 

Pinch me because I still can’t believe all the information I discovered about my family! 

Have you ever had a New Year’s resolution turn into a lifelong passion? If not, guess what – you could. Anything’s possible when you have a starting point. And that’s exactly what a resolution is – a big sign on the road of life that says,

Start here, baby.

If you’re on the fence about making a New Year’s resolutions, here are some stats to help you decide.

new years resolution infographic
P.S. Learning about your family history is a great resolution!

If you’re now thinking about something you could turn into a New Year’s resolution, then these are your next steps:

  1. Pick something you really want to achieve – something you really want to see happen in 2014.
  2. Treat it as a goal. New Year’s resolutions are not wishes or dreams. They are a commitment you make to yourself. A promise to keep.
  3. As with any goal – write your goal on paper. And make it specific. If you want to lose 20 lbs or find out who your great-grandparents were – write it down. Honestly, there’s something about getting what you want out of your head and on to the page that starts to make it real.
  4. Break your goal into chunks. Monthly, weekly, even daily is good. It makes the next steps easier when you can tackle just one part of a goal at a time. If you want to start your family history, for instance, the first step is to write down information about yourself. Yes – that’s step one. Think how easy it would be to trace your family if everyone had written one short paragraph about themselves.
  5. Set timelines for each step needed to reach your goal. No deadline, no pressure. And you know the saying – no pressure, no diamond.
  6. Finally, tell someone what you’re up to. It helps to have at least one person holding you accountable for success. Secret New Year’s resolutions simply don’t go very far. Trust me. I’m speaking from experience here.

You’re probably wondering by now if I have a resolution ready to go for 2014. Indeed I do.

Over the years, I’ve collected a gazillion facts about my family – names, dates and places. But I’ve also come to realize it’s the stories about the people they were and what motivated them that are the true gems in genealogy.

Unfortunately, not every person in your family tree comes with a story ready to tell. No – that’s our job to sift through the facts and dig out a good family story that would remain untold but for our efforts. That’s why this year, I resolve to share 52 Weeks of Family Stories because if I don’t, many of them will be lost forever.

That’s my hunking big resolution for 2014. One story each week that I’ll post here on Extreme Ancestry so my family can read them and you too, when you stop by to visit.

Do I have 52 family stories pre-packaged and ready to post? Heck no. But with the starting point of a solid New Year’s resolution and a step-by-step action plan, there’s no limit to what I can accomplish. And the same goes for you.

So let’s do this thing.

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