Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Putting Down that Load: Service to the Profession Edition

A few years ago, I made the mistake of voicing my doubts about how a certain Big Ongoing Project transition should be handled. Stuff along the lines of, "Hey, have we really thought these things through?"

Silly me: They put me in charge of it.

Anyway, Big Project ended up being a five-year commitment. Every fall, I'd start working on Big Project. Every fall, it would nag at me mercilessly, yet another thing to do. And because I'm a perfectionist, everything needed to be perfect.

And it was always later than I'd like. I always wanted it done by early October. And usually, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas was more like it.

Here's the thing: as of two days before Christmas this year, my five-year commitment was finished. Oddly enough, "Auld Lang Syne" was playing on my parents' radio as I sent off the last official communiqué and handed the whole thing over to my successor.

Here's the thing: when you're mid-career, your service load expands. A lot. And one of those things is "service to the profession," wherein you serve on the boards of organizations, read and review book and article manuscripts, and do other stuff. This labor is mostly uncompensated. And it's actually pretty fulfilling. And it's all voluntary. So you can't complain that you're having this foisted on you. I actually enjoyed working on Big Project -- sometimes quite a lot!

But it also felt good to put it down and move on to other things.

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