Find A Better Way to Resolve

Better Goal Setting?

New Year's Resolutions are worthless. You're not going to remember any of them a week now, a month from, or even next year. Why do we both setting worthless 'goals'?

I'm convinced it's because we're not spending the time:

  • Reminiscing
  • Reviewing, or 
  • Revisititing

We rush through December at breakneck speed and then January slams into us like a semi-truck on the interstate highway. And somehow we're supposed to make resolutions that we think will stick? Um, no.

2017 Goal Setting Failure

Last year, I attempted to follow 30 Days to Build a Better Business by Tonia Kendrick.  She had several daily exercises to get the year going, and I thought this would help me grow my startup business.

I was off to a good start, completing the exercising and articulating the vision for Family History Fanatics.

 We promote the fun in family history and provides quality education at affordable prices

After that early step, I was stuck. I had no idea how to break down this vision into objectives that could be measurable, timely, and achieve my dream.  I couldn't predict the projects at the beginning of 2017 that we were involved in by year's end. I had nothing to go off of to set goals, so how could I make resolutions?

I quit participating in the additional daily challenges. Setting goals was a failure and I hadn't even finished January! What was I missing?

I couldn't reminisce, revisit, or review.

I was starting at ground zero. I had written a few books and attended a state conference, but then what? What should I be involved in? How much time should I devote to growing Family History Fanatics? How would I balance that and my homeschooling responsibilities?

The list of questions to answer continued to grow and I couldn't find my way to set goals.

Ever feel like that?

Instead of setting goals, I spent 2017 attempting to take advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves to me so that I could better prepare for 2018 goal setting attempts.

There Has To Be A Better Way

I like what little I've learned about the Jewish New Year held back in September. Rosh Hashanah is a period to stand in awe and to repent. From what I understand Jews will recognize their sins (mistakes, failings, shortcomings, etc.) and commit to not to do them the following year. While recommitting to follow God better, Jews will give charity, provide service, and fulfill more commandments. In so doing, the hope is God will bless them further. And all of this was done in September while most of the world is caught up in ordinary life.

September sounds like a better time to set goals, rather than recovering from a massive two-week vacation and the busyness that entails. The kids are back in school, the summer break is over, and the US holiday season hasn't begun.

I also love the idea of reflecting upon the past year in terms of mistakes, ways to improve, and then coupling the attempts to change with service. I like the idea that if I would make commitments that support my belief system, then maybe my resolutions, no matter when they're set, will have more power and strength.

This tangent to the Jewish view of a New Year, circles back to the point that those making resolutions in January aren't spending enough time evaluating how the year was spent, analyzing where they went wrong, and then making plans to realign.

Would this knowledge have helped me in 2017?

Yes. I could evaluate what skills I had for a business: researching, communicating, and presentations. I could evaluate where my weaknesses were and how to improve on them. Combined with my vision, I could seek out opportunities to build my business while improving my skills. Let's face it. When you're at ground zero, that's where most of your time should be spent!

What did we do right?

Since it's January 2018, I'm going to employ the commitment strategies that I've just mentioned. What did Andy, Caleb and I do right last year while building our business?
  • We spent hours providing service as volunteer indexers for FamilySearch  
  • Andy and I were family history consultants for our church congregations and served at a Family Search Center. 
  • I volunteered at the local library and gave lecturers to beginning genealogists.  
  • Andy and I networked at RootsTech and participated in two Boot Camps with Thomas MacEntee and coordinated our first eConference to support local genealogical societies. 
  • We grew our YouTube Channel from 50 subscribers in January to 2,100 subscribers by Christmas, and produced two vidoes weekly!
2017 was a good year for growing my dream of improving the quality of genealogical education for a larger audience. 

What did we do wrong? 

  • We posted several of videos on YouTube with spelling errors, broken links, and no thumbnail images.  

  • We sent out a few repetitive emails to our mailing lists because we forgot it was time to update the new release.  

  • I forgot to share in Social Media about my speaking engagements BEFORE the conferences to generate buzz for the events.  

  • I didn't engage in enough community building activities (commenting on my favorite blogs, helping in Facebook groups, etc.)
Now that I have reviewed 2017, we can make specific commitments that will help us serve others in 2018.

What are our plans for 2018?

  • Continue coordinating online workshops that are engaging and educational. The first is January 19th, the second in March 29th. 
  • Create three-week workshops that offer actionable learning exercises in genealogy. The first one might be in February, but if not, we'll have one in March.
  • Offer two videos on YouTube weekly, with Tuesdays being our genetic genealogy day. 
  • Write the book, DNA Q&A: Real Question from Real People about their DNA. This should be completed by February 15th.
  • Film more boot camps and webinars for download on demand. I've filmed four, one is free. Stay tuned to where to find these videos. 
  • Engage with the genealogy community through social media and live events.
Some of these plans don't solve all of the mistakes from 2017, but I find that as we learn new platforms and new systems, these will resolve themselves. What do you think?

To sum up, it's important to change how we view January and the draw to make New Year's Resolutions. Reflect and review the past before you set goals for the future. If you can't determine the action items you need to take in order to achieve a particular goal, work on changing the mistakes from last year. Combine that 'repentance' with doing service and giving of yourself to benefit others.
In so doing, God, Karma, or luck will be with you and bless you in amazing ways.

Have a blessed 2018!


  1. Morning Devon, I read this just as I was about to set my genealogy goals for this year. (I stopped setting personal goals, years ago and take what life gives me and grow from that.) I went WOW! Now I'm going to reflect on what I did last year and what I would like to achieve this year and NOT STRESS about it. I do want to finish one more certificate in my studies. Bye for now, Lilian xxx

    1. Lilian, take care and no stress. Push yourself, but if you're stressing, that's not helping.


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