Friday, September 23, 2011

Genealogy Goals

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a dance teacher when I grew up...

Age 3 First Dance Class

or an Indian Chief....Well, at age 13 I was able to realize that dream.

I became an Indian Chief...

Dance Recital age 5
Christmas Card 1968 age 11

I'm kidding, of course.

However, I did become a dance instructor. I had been dancing since I was three years old. Ten years of study and I was able to teach. I taught dance until I was about 35 years old. At the same time I worked as a dental assistant, I did that for 20 years. Then I changed careers.

Dance Instructor age 23
For the next 10 years or so I worked in the world of Public Relations.

Then I changed careers again. Guess I just couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up.

This time (at age 40) I decided I wanted to be a professional genealogist.

I've been working on that goal for about 10 years now with some ebb and flow to my enthusiasm. I confess, my desire to work genealogy as a profession sometimes wanes. If I work for others will I have anytime for my own?

But I always seem to come back to the adage; if you do something you love as your profession, every day is like you're not working at all. That's what keeps me on the track of becoming a professional.

Not to long ago I heard the phrase "transitional genealogist." I like that phrase. That's what I am...even though I occasionally take on clients. I consider myself a transitional genealogist for a number of reasons. One reason is because I learn something new with each client. Another is because the world of "professional genealogist" keeps changing and in my opinion improving. New definitions of what a professional is keep emerging. I like that, because that means ours is a growing and thriving occupation, one that is willing to embrace the changes in our culture and society and adapt with the times; much like the buggy makers of the early 20th century that embraced that newfangled contraption the horseless carriage.

The most important reason, I think, that I consider myself a "transitional genealogist" is because I am in a transitional stage. I am moving toward holding myself to a higher standard. I want my work to show that I have moved beyond the name gathering stage. I want others to see my research as "exemplary" and to that end I need to transition into a better researcher.

I am a perfectionist, and while I know that one can never truly be perfect, I feel that my work can at least attempt to be the best I can make it.

What am I doing to make my work ease up to a higher caliber? I go to the national conferences, for one thing. In fact I am a self proclaimed "conference junkie." The classes help remind me that there is more to learn. The professionals help remind me what I hope to be like "when I grow up." Conferences also keep adding kindling to the flame of passion for genealogy that keeps me motivated.

I also am taking some week long "intensive" classes. This year I am enrolled at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and as soon as they open the applications I will be enrolling at the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Alabama (IGHR). Both of these "institutes" are valuable learning experiences. (I've attended SLIG once before and I have attended IGHR twice before)

I have also just enrolled in the National Genealogical Society's Home Study Course.

Why do I do all this? One day I hope to apply for my certification or my accreditation (leaning towards certification...but, we'll see) and the perfectionist in me wants to be well prepared. When I turn in that portfolio or take that test I want to know (even without anyone else telling me so) that I have moved beyond that transition and have reached the level I feel professionals should work at.

There are a lot of professionals out there working without the benefit of CG or AG after their names. In my opinion if they are working at a "professional level" and their clients are satisfied with their work, then "more power to them." One does not HAVE TO HAVE a CG or an AG after their names to move beyond the "hobbiest" stage and enter into the world of "professional." But I feel...for me...that to have a CG or AG after my name gives a re-assurance to my would be client, and gives me a "measuring stick" to say I have met a certain standard.

So that is my goal. In this lifetime. It won't happen overnight, too much to learn, too much confidence to build. But it will happen. Either that or I will become an Indian Chief.