5 Guiding Principles for the New Year

Demian Borba
Dec 26, 2017 · 5 min read

As I see more and more people thinking about the new year and posting about what they want to accomplish, I have decided to spend time reflecting on the year that just ended, reflecting on good and bad things that happened in my life. It wasn't an easy one, switching roles at work, recovering from a significant knee surgery, being away from my family, but overall, it was great.

Now that all the processing is complete, and inspired by the Guiding Principles for Adobe XD that my friend Tom Krcha wrote, here is my list for the next 365 days. I'm calling it: 5 Guiding Principles for the New Year.

1. Excellence in execution, every time.

Sometimes you're focused, excited and full of energy to get the job done. But sometimes you're tired, distracted or not really motivated by the current task, wanting to focus on something else, like email or smaller tasks. Maybe because they give a feeling of accomplishment, X number of emails replied, with no deep thinking required.

For the new year, I'd like to focus more on execution with excellence, for every task, every time. It could be by using Grammarly to review the text I write; it could be by asking people for feedback before calling something done; it could be by spending the extra time to have another pass on a given item.

Maya, my daughter, very focused to get Skateboarding right.

2. Be strong.

Last year, sometimes I was too transparent, too open, almost like trusting the world and everyone that it could be a good thing. But it was not always beneficial. Sometimes it was harmful to my career, to my life. Not everyone will fight for you if you're "bleeding," needing guidance.

For the new year, I'd like to complain less, to bring less drama to people around me (they already have enough problems to worry about), but most of all, I'd like to be stronger, more strategic. My plan is to be more thoughtful and less reactive. I'll try to write it down before asking, giving it another pass before acting.

I’ll never forget my mother telling me: “Morda a língua mas não perca a pose," which translates to

“Bite your tongue but don’t lose your composure." — Mom

During tough times, having some tools available can be helpful. Family is always a safe port. Sometimes, I think of this prayer I heard from a great mentor that crossed my life:

Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.

3. Results over dedication.

In my 20 years in the workplace, I learned that it doesn't matter if you work hard, for long hours, if you don't deliver results. The reality is that done is better than perfect.

For the new year, I'd like to focus more on getting the job done, focused on the KPIs I have defined, focused on my commitments, fighting the distractions, social media and the negativity you find by reading the news too much.

I'd like to work smarter, not harder.

I'm thankful for getting an exceptional book from my good friend Vincent Hardy, who taught me so much about life and work. The book is called Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series), super easy to read, and it talks about habits like booking your calendar to protect the time of your day you're most creative or productive, etc.

Maya getting the job done.

4. Effort + Learning = Success.

This is already a key principle in my life since I started learning about Design Thinking and Mindset many years ago. Numerous research studies show that if you spend the right effort and you learn from your mistakes, new synapses will be formed in your brain and you'll become "more intelligent". I tell people that anyone can learn anything, it's a matter of how bad you want it, and how hard you work to get it.

Failing is good, as long as you learn from it.

5. Go Make Memories. #familyfirst

Many research studies also show that when you attach emotion to an experience, it can firmly store the memory in your brain. Like many people say, I’m sure you don’t remember the meal you had last week a this exact time, but you remember what you were doing on 9/11, because there was the emotional component to it.

Stronger connections are made when emotion is attached to the experience.

I remember seeing a talk from my friend Dan Petty at Adobe MAX in 2016, where he mentioned one episode where he was working remotely, during a work call, and her daughter came in. His choice? He decided to stop the call and see what her daughter needed. That really resonated with me.

For years, I spend a lot of energy on trying to become the best Flash developer I could be. Did tons of projects, organized conferences, took dozens of classes, taught classes at different colleges in the US and read dozens of books. And look at Flash now: dead!

We change jobs, change managers, change products and tasks.

Everything passes.

For the new year, I'd like to keep focused more on making memories with my family and friends. Seeing my daughter grow up and develop is priceless. It's the biggest blessing a person can find. If you're not focused on your family, please hear me and go spend time with them.

My family is my priority, no matter what!

Making memories with family in Brazil.

Well, this is my list. As you can see, the items are more about behavior than about accomplishments. Is it because I'm getting older? Haha Time will tell…

Looking forward to looking at this list by the end of the next year.

What's on your list for the new year?

Demian Borba

Written by

Maker & Learner. Product Manager with experiences as Instructor, Designer, Developer and Community Manager. Working on Adobe XD since 2015.

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