The New Years Resolutions: Improving Life While Not Losing It

In the last five years a great deal has changed for me - more than some, less than others - both in my own living arrangements (a jump from London to New York, a career-change from full-time writer to full-time PR-man) and in my own personal demeanor and attitude.

As I've aged, my New Years resolutions have aged with me - from the weakly-structured "I should do a thing better than I did last year" to more clearly-organized and structured 'goals' with particular tools to execute and ways to do it. However, my goals remain fairly lofty, and applicable to just about anyone reading - everyone has these goals. It's a question of executing.

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With e-reading a reality and my Kindle charged at most times - and my iPad giving me access to those very same books - I have no reason as to not read the many different .azw files I've been grumpily picking up over the years. This is the year I do so - at least two books a month, if I can. One of the most useful tools so far for doing so has been Goodreads, which through well-structured guilt-trip reminder emails tells me how somebody I haven't seen in five years is far more intellectually stimulated than I am.

Lose weight, gain muscle, cook more...
Oh, that old chestnut. I have a few methods of trying to do so - DailyBurn is simply the best way to monitor and track weight loss and exercise - and a start at Definitions (a personal-training only gym in New York) has certainly helped - but one cannot discount how much of this has to be up to how you eat. One of the greatest problems of being in a city with some of the greatest dining opportunities known to man is that one cannot stay healthy - and thus I advise you to at least spend some time reading Cathy Erway's Not Eating Out In New York - cooking for oneself is technically possible in the shoebox apartment you squat in.

...and eat and drink better, too
2009 was the year that I recognized two major facets of life were untrue - not all beer is trash, and one has to make an effort to check out where one is eating before doing so. Yelp became a shield from the worst of the world, and Foodspotting the foodie's Tripadvisor, saving you a potential trip if everything put on your plate looks like it's rotted away.

This year I learned more about both whisk(e)y and beer. The Gingerman on 36th and 5th staffs itself with, even in crowded times, wait staff who will happily tell you what you will like and why. More importantly, they'll ease you into various areas of beer-drinking you may not have known you even liked - I, myself, despise amber ales and Belgian beers, and would not have known of anything else had they not specifically asked me, and thus educated me along with my colleague Chris Heintz about the glories of IPA.

This convinced me to, on a trip to San Diego, visit one of the greatest restaurants and breweries - Stone Brewing Co.'s brewery - and further my education. I was introduced to Stone Ruination - frankly one of the tastiest beers I've ever had. In one several-hour-long trip to the brewery (without even touring it - just looking around and chatting) I learned more about the complexity and pride that Stone takes in what they do, and felt rather embarrassed to have given beer such a hard rep. Several months later, I had a stein that literally kept an entire 22 oz bottle of Stone Ruination cold for four hours - and appreciated beer like I did my fine whiskies. Stone had shown me the way.

The moral of the story, and a resolution I am taking and I advise you to as well - be adventurous with your food and drink, and try and find the best of it - which may not always be the priciest. Use Zagat or Yelp to look up places and buy coupons from or Groupon. Take a risk - it'll be worth it.

Learn Efficiently, Connect Effectively
There's a whole world of tech that I don't understand, and I know I should. Hashable demands my attention - a social nexus for one of New York's most salient problems (you know, meeting people) - and yet I haven't put in much time to it at all. It's arguably one of the most important business startups I've seen in a while - and frankly, I have no idea how I haven't lost many an hour with it already.

It did, however, bring up how much time I've wasted checking out every single new thing that pops up in the media - instead of actually seeing what they do first, and deciding which will help. My working and social landscape has been dominated by tools rather than tasks, and this is the year that I will learn to cut down on apps, gadgets and websites - and focus on doing more, knowing more, and being better, versus having every tool in the bat-belt on my desktop or browser at once.

Frankly, 2011 is the year of the goal - the year of the task - the year of focus. Focus, focus, focus. That's 2011.