Of course it’s time to talk about New Year’s resolutions. It’s January. The economy is in a recession. Unemployment continues to rise. The mortgage debacle hasn’t been resolved and we’re getting a new president. Face it. You just can’t control the rest of the world. You can, however, control your own piece of the universe.

If you’re still nursing an economic hangover from last year, pick and choose from the following resolutions. You can’t possibly go wrong, unless you don’t pick one.

1. Exit your comfort zone. We all have one. It’s comfortable. No one expects anything of us in it and most notably, we don’t expect anything of ourselves in it. That’s precisely why you must make it a point to venture out of it on a routine basis. This year, resolve to do one thing a month that propels you out of your comfort zone. By the end of the year, you will be rewarded with a larger zone that you can further expand in 2010.

2. Keep your day job. If you have a steady paycheck, be grateful. About 6.7 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t and they are wondering how to make ends meet on a month-to-month, day-to-day basis. Complain about the greater injustices of your career if you must, but take care of the entity that feeds you and yours. Show up on time. Do your job to the best of your ability and keep your eyes open for opportunities that may still present themselves despite the nasty headlines.

3. Get educated. Read a book. Take a class. Get a degree. Go to the opera. Learn something new and don’t waste another minute making excuses not to do so. Your brain cells are fading fast. You can focus on a professional goal here or a personal one. The point is to get the point in the first place.

4. Work to live, not live to work. If you’re the one who turns off the lights every evening at work, this one’s for you! Get a life. Your job will still be there tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and so on. Here’s a news flash. If you don’t do your job, eventually someone else will. Unless life and limb is involved, strive to cultivate an existence outside of 9-5 Land. You will be a much more interesting person and you might notice a declining stress level as a bonus.

5. Confront your demons. We all have them. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and demeanors. Maybe yours is a scale with ever increasing, cursed numbers or a past event from a place and time that just keeps haunting you. Whatever shade of pain you personally feel, make it a point to remove it from your life this year. You have the courage and the ability inside you. Just use it.

6. Get a dog. Ok, maybe you have one already but my kids don’t. It’s a fact they remind me of daily. It’s now on my list. If you don’t have one, it can be on your list, too. Don’t try substituting fish — it’s just not the same.

7. Become a philanthropist. You don’t have to be financially wealthy to make an impact. A couple bucks here, an afternoon volunteering there can make a positive difference in someone’s life or in a worthy cause. The beauty of this resolution lies in the intrinsic returns you personally reap. It’s true. You get more when you give more.

8. Create a career vision. Perhaps you’ve been sidelined by the routine of daily life. It’s understandable, but not acceptable. Remember the dreams? Remember the thrill? Dust off your career blueprint and update it this year. Where exactly are you headed there, junior?

9. Commit to serious fun. Pick a sport. Any sport. Run. Climb. Skate. Dance. Golf. Just do it.

10. Be present in the room. People are counting on you, whether you like it or not. The person you hand the cup of coffee to in the morning counts on you. The innocent faces that ramble on and on about their day at school count on you. The colleague on the other end of the telephone line or the customer across the desk counts on you. The idiot driver on the road, sadly, counts on you. You have the power within you to give value and respect to their moments because it’s just not always about you. Be present in the moment and you’ll find many blessings in your life.

Janet Farley is the author of "The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide" and "The Military Spouse’s Complete Guide to Career Success." Her column appears monthly in Stars and Stripes. She can be contacted at:

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