New Year. New Outlook. New Direction.

For those of you just tuning in, here’s what you missed in the past ten years of my life:

  • Boy desires sense of purpose.
  • Boy pursues engineering…realizes that software is more fun!
  • Boy pursues computer graphics fine arts degree…the right direction!
  • Boy pursues computer game industry…burns out!
  • Boy pursues new media / interactive design…profitable but empty!
  • Boy loses creative partner and friend to cancer…depressing and isolating.
  • Boy pursues freelance design…likes independence but it’s slow going.
  • Boy starts blogging, because it seems more interesting than making a “here are my skills…hire me!” website.

2005 was a turning point in many ways:

  • Boy realizes that meeting more people is key to finding new direction, partnership, despite debilitating aversion to public networking.
  • Boy finds that meeting people is actually quite energizing, if you can do it on your own terms.
  • Boy discovers that creating original content rocks, and it isn’t as hard as he thought it would be, and he feels better than he has in years.
  • Boy discovers that talking to a diverse group of people also contributes to his general feeling of cheer, and that there are actually a LOT of awesome people out there who are just trying to do better just like himself.

The key insight:

  • Boy realizes that empowered, happy, conscientious people, as audience and collaborators, are what gives his work purpose and joy. It’s corny, but true.
  • Specific skills and knowledge, which Boy has spent entire life accumulating, is not the path to self-fulfillment. They are, instead, the means by which a goal can be achieved. And that goal is to work with, empower, and inspire people to the best of their abilities. It sounds even cornier the second time he types it, but he intuitively knows this is the key motivator of everything worthwhile he’s done back to the 4th grade. So he sucks it up and decides to run with it.

So that brings me up to December 31, 2005, which happens to also be my birthday. Happy birthday to me! Boy is now 38 years old, wishing that he’d figured this out 20 years ago. Better late than never. Now it’s time to make this pay off, otherwise all this soul-searching will be for naught due to lack of capital.

In other words, my New Year’s Resolutions for 2006 are all about putting these insights to work.

2006 Resolutions

Now that I know the core passion is to work with and help create empowered happy people, I need to support that role with everything I know. I also need to ensure that I remain strong in the mental, physical, and financial realms. The challenge is to construct a set of resolutions that will promote this growth.

I have several general principles to follow for 2006:

  1. Be Frugal — I have spent too much money this year, and as a result I have to pay off more credit card debt than I care to admit. I have lived well, but the money did not go to creating tangible assets; they instead created more liabilities, which is not a position of strength. Now that I have QuickBooks set up and ready (I hope) to handle both business and personal expenditures, I want to reverse the trend and starting playing the business game for real. If I have to eat government cheese for a year to pull together the monetary cushion, so be it. There’s so much to do this year; I will have plenty to keep me entertained.

  2. Meet People — In 2005 I relearned the value of being genuinely interested in talking to people. My opening question these days is to ask people how they got to where they are. It’s a good icebreaker, and it quickly gives me a glimpse into the forces behind a given personality. If there’s passion, it will show. And passion is something I can work with.

  3. Make and Distribute — Showing is always more compelling than just telling. And having as many people see what you’re doing is good too. The things I make and distribute are conduits for the positive feedback loop, and the more I do the more positive I will feel.

  4. Narrow My Focus — In the past I have spread my abilities thinly across many skills. This year, I plan to focus on just a few of them: software development, graphic/information design, writing, and teaching. I don’t yet have any credibility in any of these fields, but this is the year I’m commited to pursuing and advertising them as my core skills. What’s different is that I’m no longer worried about these skills being my identity…they’re just my main toolset. My identity is actually the desire to work with great people, and to become one of them myself. It is that simple.

  5. Systemize and Produce — So I have those core skills, but how will I make money? By creating products that people can grasp and use immediately that don’t require a ton of custom work. Creating a library of useful modules and selling them is a start, especially if they support my core skills and sense of identity. I think this is a key to generating more revenue in 2006.

  6. Live at a Consistent Pace — a variation of the “maintain momentum” resolution from last year, I need to develop some additional rigor in establishing good habits. There’s still room for drama and surprise, but my entire life doesn’t need to be that way. I can start by going to bed at a regular time.

  7. Tone Both Mind and Body — I have neglected the body. In 2006, I need to lose weight and tone up. I will need the stamina and the energy that comes from a healthy body. Additionally, I’ve found through the sports I’ve done this year that moving the body stimulates the mind. I had the most amazing experience playing Basketball for the first time in years; I felt parts of my brain that hadn’t been used stretch out and provide new perspectives on my problems. I am foolish for neglecting this for so long.

  8. Form Learning Alliances — There are a lot of skills that I’d like to practice with other people. I was inspired by the Pinkospy Project Pages…there’s lots of things I’d like to learn, and what better way than to learn with other motivated people? Entrepreneurship, Marketing, 3D Modeling and Animation, Software Development, and Music are a few that come to mind right now.

  9. Specific Project Focus — My focus in software dev will be related to the Printable CEO: one each of AS2.0, Visual C#, and XCode. Also, paper-based enhancements are in the works.

  10. Blog Reorg — Now that I know what I’m doing, I need to refocus the blog so people can more easily find what they’re interested in.

<

p>So those are my resolutions for 2006. I know 6 and 7 are going to be challenging, but I have a renewed sense of purpose. Let’s see how well it holds up.

UPDATE: I’m following up on these in a separate series of posts