January 10, 2022

New Year, New UX

Matt McGhan

A simple approach to setting professional goals.

It’s 2022. New year, new you; the age-old calendar-turn-call that beckons a list of to-dos and to-dont's.

Be healthy, save more, spend less, live life to the fullest.

How can we put our best professional foot forward with 100 spinning plates waiting for us after the holiday break? 

Twelve months of opportunity are upon us to be better, sharper, etc. But as we know, things rarely slow down. So, how do we implement professional goals while maintaining our regular day-to-day work?

Prioritize. But how?

I know how hard it can be. Your list of goals suddenly turns into an overwhelming jumbled mess. And, in the end, you don’t fully complete any of them. Half too ambitious, half too general to point to accomplishments.  

Here at SingleStone, we like frameworks and processes to execute projects smoothly and efficiently. We also like things organized and orderly to help maintain efficiency. So, I present to you a tried-and-true approach with three sequential tenants to help you lay out your goals. It was presented to me many years ago in a non-profit galaxy far, far away, but still holds things together like the Force. This framework also reinforces the KISS (keep it simple stupid) method as an homage to that time of year 🌿🍒 (there's no mistletoe emoji and I'm still in the holiday spirit).

Learn one, do one, teach one 

Always have at least one of each in your active column

Learn one   

Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Learning is the lifeblood of all technical and creative ventures. At SingleStone, we pride ourselves on being curious. We champion having space and time to learn. But we suggest having a list of new things you would like to learn and checking them off as you learn them. This could be languages, programs, or even understanding how a new design system works.

I’m currently learning a new tool that creates better user experiences to weave into prototypes. This is my favorite thing about the internet...things always evolve and new tools always emerge. Yesterday it was Sketch and Invision, today it’s Figma. Sometimes, such as in my case, it blends right into the next “one.” 

Always have a new thing, idea, or workflow to explore in the background of projects. 

Do one

This is the meat and potatoes of the framework. This is your main thing. The key for this ONE is the active participle, “do.” Not the one side of the coin, which is, talking, thinking, or planning about the doing, nor the other side, which is “done,” most of the “do one" will never be.

As a wise green creature once said, “do or do not, there is no try.”

We also believe and encourage people to “fail fast.” To borrow from a great mind and theologian, invoking MVP energy way before its time.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Francis of Assisi 

The “do” doesn't have to be a big to-do, the bite-sized parts matter most. I usually focus my in-process “to-dos” list around the upcoming features that are being prioritized on a given project. 

Teach one

The culmination of being a professional is sharing, encouraging, and making those around you better. There is no greater joy than passing on what you have learned.

Always have an open check box on your list that challenges you to actively teach what you have learned and done. It could be as simple as showing how you used that bit of code to do that one thing. It could be a formalized lecture at a conference. Heck, it could be a blog post about an easy framework for creating a user-friendly professional goal list. 😉

Your team and company will be better for it, and you will be a more well-rounded employee.

You don’t have to be a professor or have any special accreditation either. Take this poet's encouraging words with you into the new year, as a reminder you to help others:

“The Art of Teaching is [simply] The Art of Assisting Discovery." — Mark Van Doren

As you finalize your 2022 goals, I challenge you to include this simple updating check-list:

✅ Things you want to learn

✅ Things you want to do, and

✅ Things you can teach others.

I promise that by leveraging this simple framework, you’ll have a very rewarding year.


Matt McGhan

UX Designer
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