1. Replace Reddit completely with TED, OpenCourseWare, or an educational podcast.
I’ve been a Redditor for three years, and, while the information gained through the site has been somewhat useful, I’ve lost, literally hundreds of hours in the process. TED talks and online lectures not only provide more structured, higher-quality information, but their discretized nature let’s you stop more easily. (“I’m going to watch this one talk an then go to sleep” vs. “I’m going to Reddit for a bit… oh crap it’s 2am”) In addition, podcasts are great because you can listen to them while doing the dishes, driving, or really anything more useful than staring at pictures of cats
2. Limit Drinks to 3/day or fewer, no more than 10/week
I don’t recall a single morning after a party where I’ve woken up and said “I wish I had been drunker last night.” Although the US is less than understanding about the need for women to have more than one drink a day (According to Wikipedia), other countries take a slightly more lenient view. The UK, for instance, declares that up to 2-3 drinks/day, and 14 drink/week maximum is perfectly healthy.
Interestingly enough, a study that recently made the news rounds shows that moderate drinkers have a longer life span, and those who abstain from alcohol tend to die youngest.
No more than 3/day and no more than 10/week seems like a great rule of thumb, while not impacting my social life or enjoyment of great beer.
3. Make friends and influence people
A lifelong problem of mine has been to understand and empathize with people who screw something up to my detriment. This isn’t so great on teams — if someone forgets to complete an assignment, or misunderstands the problem, one of the worst things you can do get upset and alienate the person.
But many great leaders, business people, and other successful individuals have been able to empathize with, help, and leverage people who had faulted them in the past.
Although it seems like common sense to work on this, I’ve found that, in engineering especially, it seems like a point of pride to be horrible at these types of skills. Stories like “I was right the whole time, and showed that guy up in the meeting – boy was his face red!” are far more prevalent than “Although my way would have been better, I conceded the point, although I think the manager is really interested in exploring other possibilities after this project’s over.”
This is going to be more difficult to quantify than the other two goals, although there are a great number of books on the subject (besides the obvious one). Reading a few books over the course of the year, and working to integrate them into daily practice would be an excellent start.