My friend, Mark Dance, is someone I admire. He is an amazingly productive model railroader: in less than eight years, he took his quadruple deck Columbia and Western from paper to the cover of Railroad Model Craftsman, and a regular feature on the local operating scene. When I asked him at this weekend’s VanRail operating event how he does it, he responded that he basically makes a commitment with himself to finish something before an event, and then does it.
Essentially, he sets a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and then sets shorter-term goals in order to meet that big goal. Inspired by Mark, I took some time on Saturday night to write my own BHAG in my notebook: I will be operating for VanRail 2015. From a near term perspective, this means I want to have the layout installed and trains running by the end of the year. 2014 will then see the staging yard go together, a second or third locomotive and some more rolling stock. Operations start in 2015, with a view to shaking down the layout fully in time for the event in September.
As far as the near-term goal, I recognized that what I leave out of that goal is as important as what I include. In order to get running by the end of the year, I will be detailing the track after the layout is installed. The switch “machines” will be in, but not linked to the fascia (I am planning to use BullFrogs). The river will be smooth, but not finished. I wrote those down too.
Getting running by the end of the year will require completion of the track on the south module by the end of September, and on the north module by the end of October. I’d better get busy!