Monday, December 30, 2013

2013, The Year The Train Left The Tracks


As 2013 comes to a close, it's time for the traditional "year in review" post. This was a tough year, personally and professionally. So much so that I walked away from all of my NMRA volunteer activities. Every single one of them. I'll explain why after a look back at my goals for the year.

At the start of 2013, I laid out a few specific goals:

  • The 2013 TLR Convention is here in the Twin Cities, so there won't be a trip to some exotic location like Sioux Falls or Dubuque this year.  I also didn't have the sense enough to lay low, I volunteered to help organize and promote the thing, and it looks like I'll be presenting at least one clinic, possibly two.
  • I'd like to publish three articles this year.  One is already on deck, slated for sometime this spring.  I have another partially written, and nothing lined up yet for a third.
  • Now that I own a "real" camera, I think I might try to get a photo into the 2014 NMRA calendar or possibly even Model Railroader's 2014 calendar.
  • Now that I've perfected the scratchbuilt double-hung window, I'm going to start construction of the Lakeside Inn, with the intent of finishing it in 2013.
  • My term as the PR guy for the Thousand Lakes Region ends in May.  I've been approached about taking over as editor of The Fusee.  Unless I talk myself out of it in the next 5 months, I'll probably assume that role this year.

How'd I do?
  • The convention was a success. Everybody had fun, attendance was exceptional. However, it came at a price. I ended up being WAAAAY more involved in the planning and prep work than I had intended. I found myself frustrated trying to get people to deliver on their commitments. Want proof that the saying "damned if you do, damned if you don't" is true? Volunteer to organize an NMRA convention. I was pleased that the convention was a success, but would I do this again? No.
  • I didn't publish three articles. I didn't even publish one. And I'm OK with that.
  • I didn't get a photo into a calendar. In fact, I've done very little photography of any kind this year. All of my hobbies suffered this year.
  • The Lakeside Inn is not finished. In fact, it hasn't been touched in six months, not since June 29th, the date of my last blog post.
  • As for TLR, I am not the editor of The Fusee. I'm also not the PR guy. I'm not even on the board anymore. It was becoming too much. People were pressuring me to take over The Fusee and the TLR web site. I was also involved in some projects at the National level. It was becoming a second job, at a time when my real job was not going well. I resigned from all of my NMRA obligations and walked away. I don't think I'm going to renew my NMRA membership when it expires next year.
Do I sound bitter? Maybe, maybe not. I don't think I am, but I am definitely done volunteering for NMRA projects. Too many people seem to not understand that this organization runs on VOLUNTEERS, people who are not paid to do what they do. If you're sitting on the sidelines, enjoying the fruits of their labor but unwilling to lift a finger to help, you have no right to complain or criticize. If you're volunteering to do a job, you need to do the job, not hand it off to somebody else to do.

Do I have goals for 2014? No, I don't. I'm not setting goals for my hobbies this year. Hobbies are hobbies, they're meant to be fun and relaxing. I forgot that somewhere along the way and was starting to take this way too seriously. As a result, I nearly burned out and lost all interest. That's incredibly sad. I am slowly starting to resume my modeling activities. No hurry, no goals, no target dates, nobody waiting for or demanding that I do something.

I have one full-time job - that job pays the bills. My modeling is my escape from that job, my escape mechanism, my way of unwinding and forgetting about the real job. I'm not letting it turn into a second job.