Get S.M.A.R.T.

A couple of weeks ago I participated in my very first twitter party when I attended #genchat on January 10th.  The questions and answers were flying fast and furious and it was a bit overwhelming for me at first, but I eventually got a handle on things (more or less).

The theme of this first #genchat was, appropriately, everyone’s genealogical goals for the new year.  Jen threw people for a loop by issuing a challenge for #genchat participants: “write one S.M.A.R.T. goal that relates to your genealogical research in the coming year1  Most of us had never even heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals before so this was met at first with great confusion, but once we did some basic googling things became clearer.

Get Smart

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Focused, and Time-Bound.  They help hold you accountable but also make it easier to actually achieve your goals because you have a timeline to follow and very specific things you want to achieve.

I hadn’t really prepared anything before I jumped into the chat so I didn’t have any firm goals off the top of my head.  Now that I’ve had some time to percolate, this is the S.M.A.R.T. goal I’ve come up with:

By April 30, 2014, consolidate all of my genealogy research from disparate sources (Ancestry, family trees, partial gedcoms, etc.) into single gedcom files for each side of the family, including digital images of all documentation, which will form the foundation for the rest of my research and will allow me to share my research with others.

I haven’t been researching very long so I don’t have as much to contend with as those who have been doing this for years, but it has been very frustrating for me not to have all of my research in a single location.  The majority of my trees (and associated documentation) are in my Ancestry.com account, but I have a whole binder of information from my grandfather who gifted everyone his family tree for Christmas several years ago.  I use a Mac at home and so I’ve started a tree using Heredis, but have not been very consistent with keeping it updated as I make new discoveries on Ancestry.  So this goal will force me to compile my research so I will be able to have all of the information I need in one place.  That will then allow me to upload my gedcom to WikiTree (which I joined ages ago but haven’t uploaded anything to because of my aforementioned scattered research) and so forth.  Half the fun of genealogy is making new connections and I’m shooting myself in the foot by not being well prepared to do that.  The April 30th deadline is a nod to the fact that I have several very big projects coming up at work that are due by mid-March, so I do want to accomplish this goal but I also have to acknowledge that I won’t have much time to do so until after these projects are out of my hair.

Since it starts at 10pm Eastern time, I have to say I was wary of staying up so late when I had to work the next day AND teach a class first thing in the morning, but I got such a rush from chatting with other enthusiastic genealogists that I am really glad I participated.  I’d suggest checking out the Storify of the chat, put together by #genchat host and creator Jen Baldwin.  You can also read more about #genchat and check out the schedule for the rest of 2014.  I’m looking forward to what other #genchat challenges lie in store!


  1. Jen Baldwin, “#genchat challenge: SMART goals,” Ancestral Breezes (blog), January 10, 2014 (9:56 pm), http://ancestralbreezes.blogspot.com/2014/01/genchat-challenge-smart-goals.html 

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