Tough Choices, Goals, and Dreams

For the first time since starting this blog, I didn’t post at the beginning of the new year- reviewing my successes (or lack thereof) in meeting the previous years goals, and then laying out new ones for the twelve months ahead. It’s party because I was a little too busy to sit down and think it through, and partly because I was really conflicted in my planning. Whatever the exact goals, educational choices are going to impact the success of those goals.

In today’s genealogical world, there are so many opportunities to continue your education, meet other rabid genealogists, and really build some wonderful relationships. Questions have arisen such as: “Should I go to a conference or an institute,”  ”which certificate program is right for me,” or “which certification/accreditation program might be the best fit?” It’s awesome that we have all these choices these days, although choosing one likely means you can’t choose the other. And that’s not to say you have to shell out a lot of cash to continue your education. The number of opportunities to learn for free or next-to-free has skyrocketed. ProGen, webinars, discussion groups, and other educational opportunities are all vying for our available “GenEd” time. Of course, there’s non-genealogy programs that also serve to enhance our skills and opportunities,

So it really comes down to choices – careful consideration of what you hope to accomplish, and what steps will ultimately give you the best shot at realizing those goals you’ve set.  I don’t believe there’s a science for this. If there was, being successful would be as easy and effort-free as following a flow chart. With all that in mind, here are some of my choices for the upcoming year. These aren’t my goals or dreams laid out in print, but rather some of the educational steps that I am taking towards those goals:

What I will be doing:

I’ve returned to school full-time to get my paralegal certificate. I’ve picked up quite a bit of forensic genealogy work over the past year, and having a certificate (and hopefully a credential at some point) that the legal profession recognizes can only help form relationships in that world. It can only help my research skills , knowledge of how the law influences records, and how to more effectively work the courthouse.

I filed for an extension for my BCG portfolio, and plan to finish this summer. It’s this decision that has driven many of the “things I’d love to do” into the “things I’m not going to do” category. Over spring break and the summer, I will be travelling to the places where the subjects of my case study and kinship determination lived to wrap up some holes in my research. This is probably the single most important genealogical think I will do this year.

I’m attending the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference in Cincinnati. This year’s conference features a great lineup of speakers. Oh, and I’m also a trustee now, so I kinda think I’m supposed to be there. I didn’t really attend last year’s conference for more that a few hours, as I couldn’t get out of work. However, those few hours seem to have been pretty productive, as they ultimately led to three articles for Family Tree Magazine, and a fourth that I’m supposed to be finishing as we speak.

I want to keep up with my volunteer commitments. With any luck, I can do all the above without either failing at one of them or having a nervous breakdown. Currently, I am the Great Lakes APG Chapter representative, seminar chair for the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Genealogy Committee, an OGS trustee-at-large, and newsletter editor for the East Cuyahoga County Genealogical Society newsletter. I also have a couple of smaller roles within those organizations.

What I won’t be doing

Having chosen the course above means I can’t choose some other things I’d dearly love to do. I won’t be:

Attending Samford. My top educational choice would have been Tom Jones’ writing class. Second would have been ESM’s advanced methodology class. I just felt that it was more important to take advantage of the time I have off over the summer, and money I have available, to finish my BCG portfolio work. I would also have to miss paralegal classes to travel and be gone that long. For that reason, I also will not be

Attending GRIP this summer. I would have loved to have taken Craig Scott’s military records class, or Rick Sayre’s land class, I do plan to stop over for dinner and an evening lecture – probably Michael Hait’s Monday evening lecture. Some of the research I have to do is in western PA, so I can do all that and get an early start researching on Tuesday morning.

So there you have it. It’s not a list of educational goals, but a list of educational actions – those actions that I thought the most likely to get me somewhere near where I hope and dream to eventually be. Let’s hope, that in the words of the Knight of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, that I’ve “chosen wisely.”

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One Response to Tough Choices, Goals, and Dreams

  1. Chris, I applaud the steps you are taking to achieve your goals! Having recently (September 2011) completed my 2-year paralegal degree, I know how brutal the studies can be. (If you need any insight on your assignments, let me know – I’ve also been working as a paralegal for the past 6 years). I’m gearing up to go “on the clock” in 2014, so I’ll be very interested in hearing about your journey with that as well. Good luck!

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