Identify Your Main Goal and Set Plans

First, Identify what your main goal is. I’ll use “I want/need to do family history”; a broad, basic statement. Eventually we’ll break this down and create mini-goals to help you accomplish the big goal. But first it helps to anticipate what the big goal may entail and then make plans accordingly.

So, after identifying your main goal ask yourself questions like the following:

What obstacles might I face or questions do I have as I try to “do family history”?


1.     Not knowing what “doing family history” means

2.     Loss of motivation

3.     Time – What time?

4.     Cooperation from family members

5.     Don’t have enough space, skill or equipment

Then ask yourself:

How can I negate/avoid/fix these foreseeable obstacles?

Example 1What is “doing family history”? – Think back on where you’ve heard about family history. Reunions, family, friends, church, online… What kinds of things did they talk about regarding family history? Just names and dates? What about stories, pictures or music?

Ask people about what they have done to get specific ideas. Google “family history ideas” and see what comes up.

Example 2Motivation – Look at things that you are good at or what you have been successful with in the past, no matter how small it might be or how long it lasted. Why were you good at them? What motivated you to do them? When you lost motivation what did you do to keep going?

Maybe you’re motivated by the feeling of accomplishment. Maybe you need a personal reward when you complete your goal. Maybe you need to have other people encouraging you.

Example 3Time – Look at your daily and weekly schedule. When do you tend to have down time? Some of those 10 minute breaks might be enough to accomplish one of the mini-goals you will be setting.

Reprioritize. Look for things that can be put on the back burner or eliminated while you work on your goal.

Note: In order to analyze your schedule you need to be able to remember it. If you don’t use a planner, get one or find a way to track your day. Even if it’s on a post-it with the date on it.

Example 4Cooperation from Others – Whose cooperation will you need to accomplish your goal? A spouse, children, friends, extended family? What kind of cooperation will you need? Time set aside with out interruption? Dinner made so you can work for a bit?

Plan to talk to those who will influence your ability to accomplish your goal. Discuss your desires, goals and what you need from them. Compromise or make arrangements as necessary. Maybe involve them to some degree so they can see the importance of the goal and help you accomplish it or stay motivated.

Example 5 – Space, Skill & Equipment – Look at what space and resources you have available to you already. Do you have a desk or office? If not, is there a corner of a room you could put a tray, small bookcase, file cabinet etc to keep your work?

What supplies do you have access to (even if it’s not at home)? Computer? Phone? Fax machine? Scanner? Scrapbooking materials or photo albums? Digital voice recorder? Camera?

Is there a friend or business that can scan or transcribe things for you? Or place that can transfer Grandpa’s old records onto a CD? Do you have a budget for your project?

What skills do you have? Typing (even if slow)? Good listening? Artistic? Musical?  Organization? Patient? What and where can you learn skills to help accomplish your main goal?

Be creative with doing family history. For instance, my mom wrote a song about her mother, who died before I was born.  That is the only piano piece I have learned/memorized and I cling to it.

What obstacles have you found when dealing with family history?

Please share so everyone can enjoy!
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