The New Year is already old, the decorations are starting to look dated and the kids have moved on to other interests besides the gifted items on their “gotta have it” lists. You have turned your attention away from the family embers and back to Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.

Such is life. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking of your career and what you would like to accomplish in 2010 — or what you should avoid doing at all costs.

1. Avoid taking your job for granted. If you have a job, in uniform or not, be grateful. Do your best every day. If you have the power or influence, help those around you who reside in the unemployment zone so they, too, can feel like a disgruntled but gainfully employed individual. Do unto others, as you would hope they’d do unto you.

2. Avoid making any hasty career change decisions. Hasty, please note, is the operative word here. If you find yourself feeling professionally or personally dissatisfied on the job and know in your gut that you can do better, do so. Think about how you can improve your career and write out a game plan. Update your resume. Research potential opportunities. Make discreet inquiries and get that ball rolling. Don’t make the mistake of having one bad day (or two or three) and quitting your job for the first opening that appears on the horizon. Make sure any move you make is the right one.

3. Avoid neglecting your network of professional contacts. Stay connected. Be a viable contributor to your core group. That’s not to say you should inundate them with e-mails and empty chitchat. Think before you open your mouth or hit the send button. Make a genuine effort to expand your core group. It’ll be good for you and also for those whose lives and careers you are able to affect.

4. Avoid volunteering in your community at your own career risk. You live and work somewhere. Be involved, in some shape or form, in an activity that matters to you and makes a difference. Don’t assume you have to take on a laundry list of extra-curricular activities. That would be unnecessary and counterproductive to those who live with you. Each of us has a particular skill or talent that can and should be shared in a way that makes a positive difference to others around us.

5. Avoid being "that guy" at work. You know that guy. He or she is a full-fledged energy vampire, a know-it-all, a slacker, a suck-up, a sleaze or a glory snatcher. Just do your job and do it well. Play nice in the office and you’ll make your mother proud and your supervisor happy. It’s a win-win.

6. Avoid skills complacency. Whether there is a job on the horizon or not, don’t stop learning. Keep your skills updated. If your current employer offers professional development opportunities, take advantage of them. If you have been toying with the idea of going back to school, enroll in a class. Formally or not, enrich your level of expertise.

If paying for the coursework is a sticking point for you, there are a number of free online sources like ItunesU (, OER Commons ( and Academic Earth (

7. Finally, avoid ignoring this posted "warning label": "Avoiding the above may cause serious career consequences and result in professional stagnation, suffocation and potential unemployment."

Now go out and have a healthy, happy and productive 2010!

Janet Farley is the author of "The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide, 2nd Edition," (October 2009) 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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