Sunday, December 2, 2012

Keeping Your Eye on the Prize

As independent professional genealogists, house historians, historical researchers, (insert your job here) ____________ professionals we have to wear many hats in our business. Not only do we have to complete our client work, articles, talks or other deliverables but we also have to do the book keeping, marketing and all other tasks. Sometimes striking a balance can be hard.

It's even harder when trying out a new activity that you think will help your business or let you express yourself in a different way. Sometimes trying out that new thing, whether it's learning social media or figuring out how to build your own website, can be complicated and get you off track.

Lately, I've been investing a lot of time in figuring out podcasting. Podcasting is where you record your message in audio format (or it can be video too) and make it available at regular intervals through a blog or podcatcher (such as iTunes). I guess you could say it's a audio blog.

Have you ever tried to learn something new and found it to be challenging?  Podcasting can be cheap and easy but if you want to do it right and have good sound quality it's more involved. At least, that's what I've discovered. It has also managed to steer me slightly off track. If this happens to you, put on the brakes. FAST!

Some podcasters I've followed have gotten so into podcasting that they left their original professions to become podcast consultants. While that does sound like fun, that's not the direction I want to go in. I want to keep my head and my business firmly rooted in public and personal history.

Keep Your Eye on The Prize

The purpose of podcasting for me is so that I can express myself better on the topic of house histories, genealogy and history in general.  Sometimes I get so wrapped up trying to figure out podcasting that I feel like my goal is to learn podcasting and not to share my experiences with history.

This is a really easy trap for independent professionals to fall into. You want to save money by figuring out x, y, z on your own yet the process is so consuming.

You have to keep your eye on the prize. Remind yourself constantly what the goal is, how this is going to help your business. Re-evaluate it as part of your business plan. Is this going to help your business plan?  If I end up talking about house histories then yes it will. If I get stuck in a whirlpool and never achieve my goal (but learn a whole lot about podcasting) then No it won't.

Staying Focused

If you can manage it, just remind yourself every day what your goal is. Ask yourself, "Am I staying on track?"

If the answer is no perhaps you need to a) abandon what your doing or b) find an alternative way to achieve your goal.

An alternative might be to seek the professional help of a consultant. Another cheaper option would be to find a partner or "buddy" who will push your forward and hold you accountable to finish your task.

Don't get caught in the whirlpool. Keep moving forward and achieve your goal. Figure out the strategies for moving your personal or business goal forward.

If you've been caught in the whirlpool and have some good strategies to get back on track please feel free to share them here.


  1. Excellent post, Marian. Right on target. I went through that a few years ago, with podcasting, as I approached retirement. I'd done some oral histories so I have a professional level digital recorder. I thought podcasting might be a useful 'side-business' in retirement. It just got too complicated. I still get distracted, but no longer by that! Thanks, again, for the reminder! Best wishes on your choices! ;-)

  2. Thanks for a great, and timely, post Marian. I feel that I am letting myself get distracted by the many things I *think* I should be doing to grow my business. I'm trying to educate myself but that process is taking me away from the core of what I want my business to be. Time to step back and re-evaluate.

  3. This is a reassuring post and brings me a lot of relief. There are so many "whirlpools' out there that can consume time. And time is precious. I don't have a "business," as such, but I am trying to find readers for my family history and tips for more genealogical research. Sometimes a suggestion, like Pinterest (and maybe this is just me) may seem to demand time that I just don't have.The same goes for Google + and Klout and many aspects of Facebook. Right now I have on my list to update my Blog for Mobile use. Every project like this takes time away from researching and blogging, which are my main purposes. I'm comforted to know that others have to be very selective, too!

  4. Marian, thank you for this great post and timely reminder. It IS difficult to be the chief cook and bottle washer in a one-woman show, and I find myself frazzled trying to do it all. Maintaining my focus is something I can do! THANKS!