Saturday, 12 October 2019

Reflections on planning my retirement from genealogy

Ten years ago I began my first paid client project for a lovely man who died soon afterwards of an unsuspected but aggressive cancer.  Last month I met his teenage grandson who was now looking at his grandfather's extensive family history research and wanting to continue it.  It was a lovely moment and gave me a lot of satisfaction that Bruce's hard work would be appreciated by his descendants.

I am looking forward to retirement from genealogy in the next couple of years.  I need a break from the pressures of business and the chance to take my time and do my own family history.  In the near future is the task of contacting all my existing and former clients to tell them that I will be deleting my files soon and if there is anything on Dropbox they haven't downloaded to do so quickly.  Inevitably that will bring back memories of clients and their projects.

I am grateful to my clients for opening up to me the range of sources I use on a daily basis.  It is thanks to them and my decision to concentrate on helping those already researching that I have become so knowledgeable on those sources that are not online.  It seems a pity that now, at the top of my game, I am retiring.  But I am tired and my friends and family deserve to see more of me as does my long-neglected house and garden.  I will move on to new interests and family history will become again a hobby I can enjoy at my leisure.

The irony is of course that no sooner had I decided to cut down on my client work than I became even busier.  I was asked to talk at national level and former clients from as far back as 2012 asked me to do more research for them.  I am starting to say no, to manage expectations as to timescale but I have mixed feelings about turning down work.  It is not an easy thing to do but it is necessary for my stress levels.  My deadline for taking on new clients is March 2020.

When I take my name off the local archives' researcher list only one will remain there and that researcher does not do family history research.  Of course quite a lot of their documents are now online and the archive does offer a research service.  I probably won't be missed.  It is all online now isn't it?  So why then am I so busy?

My task in retirement will be to research with my daughter and write up the stories of our ancestors.  I have the wide-ranging skills now to do them justice thanks to my clients and their projects.  Experience counts.

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