Before you create a list of goals or resolutions that you will either break or forget about by February 28th, check out the tips below to make the most of your new year:
1. The “Rule of 3.”
A few years ago a business professor and United States Marine shared with me a valuable lesson he learned from his military service that he uses to teach students about strategic planning — but that I will apply to goal setting.
Marines are known for toughness. They boast that they are the few, the proud, and likely the first in and the last out of a battle. Their organization has adopted the “rule of 3” to improve organizational efficiency and decision making.
The “rule of 3” basically is that a marine (whatever their rank may be) is essentially in charge of three things or people. No matter what chaos, stress, or environment is going on around them, a marine can take care of those three things. From what I’ve read, this teaching has been very successful for the Marine Corps.
Our lives are chaotic. Many times, genealogy is just a hobby that competes for the free time we have left over from our important adult responsibilities (work, family, etc.). Applying the “rule of 3” to your genealogical New Years resolutions or goals means that you only pick three projects or goals that you want to accomplish for the year (for starters). When you complete them, you can add more. But, you shouldn’t have more than three active goals going at a given time.
Applying the “rule of 3” will keep you focused and increase your capacity to achieve your goals. I believe it will help keep you from not feeling overwhelmed about all the various projects you could choose from). I invite you to try it out this year.
2. Create “SMART” goals.
“SMART” is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-based. A lot of people set goals that lack one of these pieces. Doing so, sets a person up for failure from the start.
A bad example of a non-“SMART” genealogy goal would be “to find all that I can about my direct ancestors seven generations back.” Although a noble pursuit, this goal is trouble. I see burnout or abandonment written all over this goal’s future.
A good example of a “SMART” genealogy goal would be to digitize grandma’s shoebox of pictures (157 photos) by December 31, 2017. Notice that it meets the “SMART” criteria. It’s specific (one project or task). It’s measurable (either you get the 157 photos scanned or you don’t). It’s actionable (you can definitely take action and get it done). It’s very realistic (you would have to scan about 3 photos per week to accomplish it). The goal is also time based (you either complete it by December 31st or you don’t).
I invite you to make your goals “SMART” this year.
3. Make written step-by-step plan to accomplish your goal.
A goal without a plan is just a wish — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
To do this, make a list of all steps needing to be taken to finish the goal or project and what order they need to be accomplished in. This helps you break things down into smaller pieces to help avoid getting overwhelmed. Create tasks or dates to serve as milestones or “check in” points to follow up on how you are doing with your goal (and help you know if you need to allocate more resources to be successful).
I invite you to make specific step by step plans to achieve your goals this year.
4. Get an “Accountability Partner” or Coach to keep you on track with your goals.
This person could be a close friend, spouse, parent, or anyone who cares about you really. Share what goals or projects you want to accomplish, your plans to accomplish them, and your milestones or dates you would like them to check in with you. I really think this step is the “secret ingredient” to creating a successful goal because after you commit to this person, you can’t just forget about your goal. Your goal is now a real thing (it’s out of your mind and verbalized to another person) and you now have somebody watching to make sure you succeed at what you said you wanted to do.
I invite you to find an accountability partner or coach this year to help keep you on track.
I wish you all a happy New Year and great success with whatever it is you would like to accomplish in the coming year!