New Year. New Outlook. New Direction.

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.

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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

19 Comments

  1. Karsten 14 years ago

    Hi Dave,

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY ! ;)
    The 31st of Dec is my birthday too, incredible.
    I came here to look for an update of LIZL but as espected it still works with wp 2.0 . So i got the time to read your conclusions for 2005 and i have to say – your completely right. I’ve just accomplished 29 years today but the 30-border is also hard to achieve.

    I wish you a great birthday party, good luck for ‘06 from germany ;-p

    Karsten

    ——-

  2. Dave 14 years ago

    Karsten: Happy Birthday to you too! You’re the first person I’ve met with the same birthday, so that’s a fine birthday present :-) Best wishes to you also, and have a great 2006! Live it up while you’re still 29! :-D

  3. MaryM. 14 years ago

    Happy Birthday, Dave-san!!!
    YIPPEEEEEEE!

  4. Ahmad Zaki 14 years ago

    Happy Birthday! New reader here and I’m liking your stuff. Keep up the good work and goodluck in 2006. I’ve set up my own resolutions too and I know it’s gonna be tough..

  5. Ed Eubanks 14 years ago

    Happy birthday, Dave.  I’ve enjoyed finding your blog this year, and I wish you a great day and a fruitful 2006.  Your goals and “resolutions” seem, apropos to your overall trajectory, like good next-steps.

    By the way, I appreciate your creative energy and winsome presentation.  I’d be curious if there was some way that we could work together in the future.

  6. Joan 14 years ago

    Here is your Horoscope from the Buffalo News:
    “Happy Birthday: You can talk about your dreams and even convince others to support them, but what counts is Follow-through. Push hard early in the year, setting the momentum that can sustain you for months to come. Don’t take a wait-and-see attitude this year if you really want to make progress. Your numbers are 2,16,24,26,35,43

    If you really want to get ahead this year, you will have to come up with something unique that will make people take notice.

    You are a trendsetter, ahead of your time,unique,creative and imaginative. You have enthusiasm,spirit and a way about you that is hard for others to resist.”

    I’m not making this stuff up. Take it for what you will.

  7. Phil 14 years ago

    Happy birthday Dave! All the best for 2006!

  8. Bo Jordan 14 years ago

    Happy birthday dude!  You’re a great encouragement for the rest of us to get busy with our resolutions!

  9. Bridget 14 years ago

    1) Happy BDay
    2) Happy New Year
    3) We miss him lots too!
    4) You’re rich in family and friends :)
    5) Let’s find board games to play this year,
      check out the bike path that is up your way,
      and find some great recipies to try out
      instead of eating out (sorry for the bad influence
      in 2005)! I’ve got to build a few more neural
      pathways this year!
    6) Thanks for continuing to blog your LZIL and
      WordPress notes for those of us trying to learn
      from your experience :)

  10. Dave 14 years ago

    Ahmad: Thanks! Good luck with your resolutions as well! I just checked ‘em out… you’ve got a killer list of things to do. Very cool!

    Ed: Thanks for the compliments, and I’m glad you like the presentation :-) We should talk further and see if there IS some way to work together. Talking never hurts. It seems I’m meeting a lot of divinity school people these days. M.Div == the new MBA!!! :-D

    Joan, Phil, Bo, Bridget: Thanks! You all rock! :-)

  11. abdul 14 years ago

    Summing up your life like that makes it seem small, all the while interesting to another new-comer.

    A belated happy birthday and New Year to you. Hopefully 2006 will bring you all that you desire.

  12. supamanu 14 years ago

    Happy b-day Dave…wow, only a year and 13 days appart ;-P

    Boy has wisdom beyond his years and will make a positive impact on those he touches, virtualy or not.

    Let’s rock two thousand and six!

  13. ior3k 14 years ago

    Hey, Dave,

    great and inspiring post. I’m like you in many ways—I’m trying to shift from software to design, and finding that that incessant thirst of knowledge takes you nowhere unless it’s used for The Good (you may also notice that I can write corny material very well, thank you :)

    Unlike you, I’m just at the beggining, and feeling tied in many aspects, but it’s comforting to know that you made it—it means the race isn’t lost right at the start.

    Oh, and by the way, happy birthday :) (a couple days late)

  14. Dave 14 years ago

    Supamanu: Heh…thanks for adding on to the story! :-) Yeah, let’s ROCK 2006!!!

    ior3k: It’s really fantastic to meet other people who are on the same path. I can’t say I’ve made it, but I can look back and see that I’ve made some interesting decisions on the way that seem to be trending upward. Hm, I wonder if this is what rock climbing is like, looking for the foot and handholds that will move you upward without risking a fall. I imagine sometimes you have to backtrack down again too. Anyway, good luck with your transition! Since we’re moving in opposite directions, maybe we should talk! :-)

  15. Beth 14 years ago

    Happy Birthday!  I bet you get screwed on presents with a December birthday.

  16. ior3k 14 years ago

    Dave,

    I got the impression that you did the transition from software to graphic design, did I understand it incorrectly?

    As to me, I’m just a lowly Java programmer doing custom CRM development (for about 4 years now). Before that I used to do some web stuff—mostly Perl, PHP, and even some ASP (in Javascript). No games here, and especially, nothing interesting.

    I finally woke up, and realized that this is not my thing. I hate corporate politics, the micromanagement, the lack of trust, the stifling of any and all creativity. And so the next step: design.

    To be honest, design is a means to an end: I’m sick of programming (at least in the terms I’m doing it) and I love design although I’m just now starting to learn more about it (there we go again).

    My dream is to form my own company and to empower :) people to do their best. I don’t know if you ever heard about Ricardo Semler—he’s my hero. Basically, he created a company where the employees are regarded as actual human beings—people to be trusted and dealt with responsibly. That’s what I want to do. Money comes and goes—people are forever.

    If you want to know more, or wish to share more of your experience (which I would love to read about) feel free to send me an email.

    Looking forward,

    Cheers. :)

  17. Dave 14 years ago

    Beth: Yeah, that used to be the case, but I think I’ve complained about it enough in the past that people have gotten the hint :-) I got some amazing presents this year! I’m actually feeling a little overwhelmed by how cool they are…will have to post pictures of the Master Replica light saber I got…wow!

    ior3k: Technically, I came from a engineering mindset (computer hardware) and transitioned to design and interactive media. I never did hardcore software engineering and development, which is what I want to transition TO. I’m recognizing that (as well as design, it turned out) was as you say: a means to an end. I really just want to be around awesome people doing awesome things, and have a sense of community. And of course, make enough money so it’s all self-sustaining at a minimum. At best, it would be something that GROWS organically while retaining core values.

    I haven’t heard of Ricardo Semler…I’ll have to ask you about that in email when I get some time! Feel free to use the contact form.

  18. ior3k 14 years ago

    Lol. “Turn back! Turn back! Darkness will envelop you!” :)

    I just sent you an e-mail with some links to articles about him.

  19. Dave 14 years ago

    Thanks ior3k! Really fascinating… for those of you who are curious, here are the links:

    <ul>
    <li>Wikipedia – Ricardo Semler</li>
    <li>Article from CIOInsight</li>
    </ul>