A new year, new excitements, new opportunities! I still – to this day – wake up excited to see what new things will happen at work. To me, each new day is sort of like being a kid opening up a new present each morning: what new, exciting, unknown thing is going to happen today?

Sounds weird, I know, but it?s true. And 2012 is no exception. In fact, I am sooooo excited about 2012 that I need to be careful and try to focus on just a few things; otherwise, it may lead to overextending and overreaching, which has its own set of bad consequences. So?here?s my list of things for me to try to get right this year:

Blog more often, and about stuff that matters
I am going to try as best as I can to write more frequently and about important topics, like things that I find relevant for self-improvement and things that we are doing as a company.

Actively seek out successful entrepreneurs
I have reached out to a few folks already, have attended a few seminars like the Business of Software, and have read quite a few books like The Lean Startup. But I need to be doing more. I need to be attending more seminars, reaching out more often to successful entrepreneurs, and reading more. There are kids half my age that are building things that matter and whose impact is felt worldwide. I want to be able to do that, even if the impact that I make is limited to the environmental consulting industry. This means doing more of the following:

  • Reach out to successful entrepreneurs for advice and mentoring.
  • Learn from others as much and as frequently as possible.
  • Attend more seminars.
  • Read and learn, even more, all the time.

Focus on building a few great products
This year I am going to focus on building a few kick-ass products. This includes EdgeBase (environmental database for geoscientists), SwampBase (wetland delineation app), and SF330Pro (proposal prep app), all products that are mainly relevant in the environmental industry. Since funds are always limited, we will build these using Lean Startup principals and will focus first on the apps that might have the largest impact. That means doing the following:

  • Focus first on industry changers.
  • Follow lean startup principals (Build-Measure-Learn) and react to metrics.

Ignore fear and follow my gut instinct
Fear can be a hell of a motivator, but it can also be one hell of a brick wall. For most people my age (I?m 47), fear comes in the form of risk taking, or rather, the lack thereof. Many of my peers and friends risk losing what they currently have?their job, their savings, their house. In other words, they are afraid that trying out something that is untested, unknown, and subject to failure is too risky of a proposition. So they usually end up taking the safe route, which is to maintain what they have. The status quo. Rationalization then plays into this, where they end up rationalizing why they took the safe and less risky road. Ironically, this ?safe? path is actually pretty risky, because college-age kids graduating now and in the next few years will be running circles around them with ?new economy? knowledge, working twice as hard for half their pay. What will happen to those folks who get replaced when they are 50-55 years old? Are they going to be able to retire on what they have or work at an equivalent position somewhere else? Doubtful.

I am thankful that I never followed that ?safe? path. I started my own gig over 20 years ago, and I am still at it. I have failed countless times, but I keep getting up, I learn from each failure, and I?m still here and still excited about the future and what lies ahead. Believe it or not, I am more excited today than I have been in at least 10 years. The technological changes that are going on right in front of our eyes, right now, are so exciting and are opening up possibilities that would have been impossible just 5 years ago.

So to wrap up this section, I need to focus on the following:

  • Follow my gut instinct, not my fear instinct.
  • Take the long-view and long-term approach, not the short-term path.

Don?t worry about hurting others’ feelings
Finally, my last New Year?s resolution is to put less emphasis on worrying about how others feel about something I do or say. This includes my own employees. In other words, my focus should be on doing the right things to move Terraine forward and on making a real impact in our industry, not on doing things that will have the least negative impact on my staff. This means that I need to get better at doing the following:

  • Be straight with people. No hidden agendas.
  • Don?t worry about criticism from others. Expect it.
  • Listen to all viewpoints. Get better at listening.
  • Ultimately do what I need to do. In other words, lead.

Do you have a New Year?s resolution list? Would you like to share that list?

Written By:
James Young
Terraine, Inc.

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