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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Tuesday
    Jan122010

    Goals? Schmoals. A Few Thoughts on Making Resolutions, Setting Goals, and Writing ToDo Lists

    Some folks would no sooner make a list of so called "new year's resolutions" than they would walk down a dark alley In the middle of the night carrying a bank deposit bag jingling with coins. "Why invite disaster," they may reason. The 87th Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Jasia at Creative Genes proves that genealogy bloggers are not of that mindset. Jasia lists 66 entries to the New Year's Resolution edition, the highest number of participants of all time! We are goal-setting bunch, for sure.

    While I didn’t participate in this edition of the COG, I too am a goal-setting, resolution-making kind of person. I make lists for everything. Groceries, books to read, closets to clean out, errands. Every list carries a heading shared by an Irish college friend; he called the lists TTBD, Things To Be Done. I like the emphatic ring of the statement, but usually add a subhead as well, TTBD Yard Chores, or whatever.

    I don't generally share these lists with a lot of people; after all, do my friends really need to know that I am so slovenly I need to make it a goal to "Make my bed everyday"? That was a TTBD back in 1985 when I had two little boys, a dog, a fish tank, and four cats, plus a business to manage. I do keep the annual TTBD in my planner, however, and look at it often. It nags me to keep moving ahead, and helps me focus on the big picture when I tend to be distracted by the minutiae of everyday life. You want dinner again?

    The lists seem to accumulate in my Circa project notebook, and I enjoy looking back to see what I have (and have not -- sigh) managed to accomplish. I am delighted that, yes, my bed is now made every day, I have read ALL mystery books and short stories by Agatha Christie (I think), and my china closet is neat and tidy.

    I am not so pleased with my progress in the genealogical department. My paper files are in chaos, my database has been in transition between programs for months, and my research is lagging behind Mom's online queries. This is not a good way to begin a new decade.

    Clearly, I need a big sheet of paper for my TTBD Genealogy. I am listing a few broad goals, and then working to break down the top three into Tasks and TTBDs. I know that if I can focus on just a few things, my chances of success are drastically improved. So, top three Genea-Goals for 2010:

    1. Obtain documentation to establish Arline’s family line at least to her grandparents.
    2. Enter said documentation and conclusions into my genealogy database program.
    3. Assemble said information into a format to share with Mom and Aunt Frances.

    One thing that seems to get me bogged down is a tendency to over-research. I have read about every possible genealogical organizing system possible, and so much information seems to just make moving forward difficult. What if I pick the wrong system? How hard will it be to change?

    Instead of worrying about finding the most perfect, best [insert problem area here, i.e. filing system, database, scanning scenario], I’m going to find something good enough and get to work.

    My son said something over the holidays that really struck a chord:

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough.

    I like that. Sometimes, good enough is really just perfect.

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    Reader Comments (4)

    "You want dinner again?" You crack me up Denise! Thanks for the giggle. You really struck my funny bone.

    I rarely make genealogy goal/task/to-do/objectives lists. I don't know why because I'm a good list maker in other areas of my life. Oh wait, I do know why. It's because what I need to do (organization and writing) is not what I want to do (research). Who wants to look at a list of all the stuff they don't want to do? LOL!

    Good luck with your Genea-Goals!

    January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJasia

    I am often paralyzed with the perfect, failing to get a good enough produced.

    Your list idea is the subject of a new book by Atul Gawande called The Checklist Manifesto': a simple, brilliant prescription for getting things right. Pilots have a checklist before they take off, why not us? My Mother was the Queen of lists. As an OR scrub nurse those lists had her surgery running smoothly.

    Please God, grant me good enough!

    -fM

    January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterfootnoteMaven

    Like many I have the list making down to a science, it's the implementation that trips me up! You are absolutely right, we get terrified of making the wrong move so we don't move at all! Thanks for sharing your son's comment, that is very insightful!
    Jenna

    January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

    It's good to know I am not alone here. Glad to give you a chuckle, Jasia, but I wince more than laugh sometimes about this.

    Lest I be paralyzed by perfection, I am off in pursuit of The Checklist Manifesto. Tx, fm

    January 19, 2010 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

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