It’s almost New Year's Eve 2012. Do you know where your resolutions are?
Will it help us - as family historians and genealogists - if we make these lists?
The answer is yes, according to a Wake Forest University study, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,by Assistant Professor E.J. Masicampo, who found that committing to a plan to accomplish a goal makes it more likely to be achieved, and allows you to think about other things.
“Once a plan is made, we can stop thinking about that one goal,” says Masicampo, who studies goal setting and will power. “This frees our minds to focus on other tasks or simply enjoy the current moment.
The resolutions that work best are specific, he says, and include the details of what you are going to do, when and where.
Picture yourself carrying out the plan, he says, adding that the plan’s power is in imagining yourself completing each element. Masicampo says that imagining doing something has a similar effect on the brain as actually doing it, and that keeping resolutions is about creating new habits.
A typical person, says Masicampo, juggles as many as 15 different goals at one time. Planning makes it possible to stop thinking about one of them until the right time and place. Once you make a plan, it stops distracting you from other goals.
Now that we know making resolutions can really work, what might be good ideas for those in the genealogy game?
What about technology?Will we resolve to scan all those old photos or documents and then safely put the originals away in archival-quality storage? Go through one pile of papers on our desk each week, organize and file them? The most important of all tech resolutions is, of course, to back up our hard-won work and schedule automatic periodic updates. You’ll be happier - with more peace of mind - throughout 2012 once that is done!
What about learning?We are never finished learning, so why not attend a genealogy conference, listen to a podcast or participate in a webinar? Take this opportunity to sign up for a genealogy course, read the newest books on the subject, or search for and use the newest websites and databases for our research.
And, for general family history goals:
- Run, do not walk, to interview a senior relative.
- Go through that box of old ancestral letters (if you’re lucky enough to have inherited one!)
- Do the same with those old photographs (and run them through MyHeritage – maybe another MyHeritage user has the same photos and you can connect and share your research).
- Search for and connect with possible relatives, using various website discussion lists – as well as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites -for your places and names of interest.
- Don’t forget to pass on your knowledge to help others. Volunteer at your genealogical society. Help out at an event. Offer to mentor those searching the same places with the knowledge you have accumulated. You'll meet interesting new people. Remember: What goes around, comes around.