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New Years Resolutions for Genealogy Researchers

What archive, library, or cemetery have you always wanted to visit to gather information on your ancestors? What research technique have you been meaning to put into practice but haven't yet? For 2013, make a list of these "New Year's resolutions for genealogy" and start checking them off your list. Here are some ideas:

  • Join a genealogical society. There are small local groups, hosted by hometown public libraries, in which you can meet other genealogists who are doing research in the same area that you are. Or you can join larger societies such as the Daughters of the American Revolution. Many of these large national groups have pedigree requirements for membership, so applying to join will challenge you to do more extensive research on your family lines. It might just be the extra push your research needs.

  • Keep a good research log. If you haven't been keeping a research log, start today! Start now! There is no other research practice and no other aspect of genealogy that will save you more time.

  • Involve your family. If you think that your family members won't be interested in your research, you're probably wrong. Sure, some aspects of genealogy can be really boring: sitting at a microfilm readers turning reels of records, searching a library catalog for records that might contain your ancestors, but once you start learning about the life stories of your ancestors, genealogy is the most exciting thing in the world. Start by just telling your family members stories about their ancestors. Soon they'll be accompanying you on research excursions.

  • Make time for what matters to you. The most commonly-cited reason for not doing family history research is, "I just don't have the time." But we all have the same number of hours in our day; you and I have the same number of hours that Thomas Edison and Mother Theresa had. So quit making excuses. If something-be it genealogy, or your family, or fly fishing-make time for it. How do you make time in your life where there was none before? By eliminating the non-essentials from your life and then planning in time for what you want to accomplish. Schedule thirty minutes of your day for genealogy, and then let people know not to disturb you during that time. If you can plan this time earlier in your day, all the better. That way when unexpected things come up that are beyond your control-out-of-town relatives or a crisis at work-you've already gotten your genealogy time.

Whatever goals you decide to set for the New Year, don't get discouraged if things don't go smoothly or if life gets so busy that you only keep your goal for the first few months of the year. Just remember: for as long as you keep a goal, it benefits you. Even if you don't keep it perfectly.

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