Sunday, January 1, 2017

It's a Fresh, New Year!

After the celebration is over, when it comes to thinking about the New Year, the big push is on to make plans. Resolutions may be what most people call them, but sometimes they turn out to be benign wishes.

I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions—you may recall my melancholy take on that subject from a few years ago—mainly because they seem to be doomed to failure. After all, what can one extrapolate from an earnest intention to "do more exercise" or "make more money"—other than to sympathize with a friend's sense of needing to do something positive.

Mainly, unless a goal is measurable and has a firm starting point (and end, of course), there really isn't any way to congratulate yourself on having achieved what you resolved to do. After all, just taking one more tiny step on a hike, or pulling in one more dollar in income for that year could qualify doing "more exercise" or making "more money" as a goal successfully achieved.

The key, rather, would likely be to envision a distant goal, then break it up into bite-sized chunks that can be conquered over a much shorter time span. If I wanted to write a twelve chapter book by the end of 2017, for instance, I could divide the task into the smaller goal of completing one chapter every month. And if each chapter were, say, one thousand words in length, I could divvy the task out over four work weeks of five days each for that month and write fifty words on each of those days. See? Easy. 😉

Completing goals for genealogy may not be so cut and dried, however. There is no such goal as "finish my family tree." You can't magically make your seventeenth great grandmother's marriage record materialize out of thin air. Some of those documents can be quite recalcitrant about making their appearance in the digitized limelight of modern search engines. And trips to the far side of the world seldom fit into a daily to-do list—at least without enormous amounts of strategic planning.

Still, after having done a year's worth of keeping track of my research progress—albeit, admittedly in the poor form of counting heads, regardless of their placement on said family tree—I've decided it is an exercise worth repeating. So today I'll leave my benchmarks for comparison in this upcoming year, and we'll see how far a little work, consistently applied, will bring us by December 31, 2017.

Surprisingly—or perhaps, maybe not, seeing how beneficial developing that diligence of fitting in a few moments for research during down times has turned out to be—I did manage to advance my count, even during those last two festive weeks of December. So, for the first of January, I now have my mother's tree at 9,305 individuals, my mother in law's tree at 9,523 people, my father's tree at 346, and my father in law's tree at 1,080.

Even the DNA results managed an uptick in the last two weeks—although those numbers should pop, early in January, as sale results start to hit customers' tallies. I have 1,521 matches at Family Tree DNA and 419 at Ancestry DNA. My husband has 970 at FTDNA and 186 at Ancestry.

It was quite gratifying to see the end result after a year of work in 2016. I managed to add 2,165 names (with documentation) to my mother's tree and a whopping 6,673 to my mother in law's tree, plus work on a number of other related trees. I doubt I'd see that kind of progress if I hadn't sensitized myself to the rate of my work through this counting exercise. I'm looking forward to seeing what another year of focus will do for this project in 2017.

Above: Illustration from the 1903 Joseph Greene Francis book, A Book of Cheerful Cats and Other Animated Animals; courtesy Internet Archives' Flickr account via Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Iggy! Best wishes for an encouraging year ahead for you, too!

  2. Happy New Year! You are so sensible breaking big projects like a book into workable portions:)


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