Focusing Your KonMari Vision Statements

Vision first. Always.

Lately I have been discovering how powerful it is to apply the idea of a vision statement to subcategories within the KonMari journey.

My boxes of family tree research have sat untouched in the garage for two years through my two KonMari festivals. In reality, they have been sitting out in the garage untouched for almost twenty years now. The bulk and disorganization is and was overwhelming.

Yet so many gems that spark joy.

Great-grandmother Burnette. I don't remember her voice. I am not sure I can reconstruct a single first person memory of her. But I know she loved me. That she held me as an infant. That she was intelligent, played softball, went to church, and would go on to marry and raise her family. If not for her dreams and desires, there would be no me.

Finally facing the boxes it was fairly easy to figure out what I did not want.

I did not want to haul around or store 80 pounds of raw info on reams of paper. I did not want binders of full of information. I did not want to physically store 100+ photos of dead relatives. I did not want to frame or display 100+ photos. I did not want to albumize 100+ photos.

I no longer wanted the responsibility of preserving all the physical information.

However, I also did not want to quick march the piles straight to the shredders. 

Which led to a stand still.

My mother did much of the family tree research in the early 1980s before home computers and well before the internet. She gathered research mainly via sending hand written letters and making phone calls to known relations. She collated the information by hand, wrote out huge family tree charts by hand, and made photocopies of it all and shared with everyone who wanted copies.

Later, in the 1990s I would add to her research, mainly through locating information collected by historical societies. I love what I found and added, but my mother did the bulk of the collected information.

Recently my mother has sent me much of the original photos and letters. She clearly no longer wants to keep the papers. At first I thought I wanted all of it. But through my KonMari journey I have gotten clear that I also no longer want to keep all the paper work.

I needed a vision statement specifically for this subcategory of komono.

My vision for my family tree information is to be able to access the basic information that most fascinates me, especially the family tree charts. I also want to have a very tiny and personal “hall of fame” collection of my absolute favorite photos of select ancestors. And nothing else.

A plan to reach my vision statement was now clear.

1. Scan and digitize all of the raw information

2. Share access to digital files with a wide range of relatives

3. Give away all the original letters and photos (minus my personal hall of fame)

4. Shred everything else

I think of the plan as a responsible “release back into the wild” the information my mother and I have gathered over the years. Relatives will be told to make their own backups of the digital files as there are never guarantees even with my robust on-site and cloud-based backups.

I also retain the option to go straight to the shredder. And I absolutely support anyone who might choose that route! In fact, it is only because of the permission I give myself to simply “shred it all” that I have the emotional space and freedom to choose this more involved route of digitizing.

To this effect, knowing the social pressure to “keep it all” and “but it is historical” thoughts that are often shared within families and even more so on social media platforms I have created my own personal guidelines to support my journey:

* I am only interested in the transfer of our collected family tree knowledge, not in the long-term maintenance of it.

* I am only interested in offering the transfer to close relations, not in whether any relative actually chooses to maintain it.

* I have less-than-zero interest in sharing my files with professional or church-related ancestry or family tree organizations.

* I am at peace if all the information dies on the digital branch.

As much as I love the information and especially the photos, the real legacy for me is our lives as they are lived and experienced.

Four generations of mothers. Great-grandmother Dagny holding me and my cousin, Grandmother Ida standing center, my mother kneeling left, my aunt on the right.

I urge all those who are in the middle of a festival to revisit their vision statement often. If reading your vision statement does not give your heart a little jolt of joy it may be time to revise the statement! And if the overall vision statement is not opening up a pathway for progress, try out a mini vision statement on your current category or subcategory!

Vision first. My focused mini vision statement sparks joy! It creates a workable path forward. And now I can’t wait to create my small and personal “hall of fame” of charts, letters, and photos.


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