Let the countdown begin! But before the revelry, take a moment to reflect. To help you along, here are some ideas from 1985 to guide you in 1986. CAREERS

For people considering career changes and those entering the job market for the first time:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' comprehensive Occupational Outlook Handbook (Government Printing Office, $8.50); Jobs! What They Are . . . Where They Are . . . What They Pay! (1985, Simon & Schuster, 279 pp., $8.95).

For anyone planning to buy or start his own business:

Checklist for Going Into Business and The ABC's of Borrowing, two free pamphlets from the Small Business Association. Write Monroe Smith, SBA, 1441 L St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20416.

For part-timers: Association of Part-time Professionals, 7655 Old Springhouse Rd., McLean, Va. 22102. (703) 734-7975. Also: Part-Time Professional (Acropolis Books, $8.95) by Diane Rothberg and Barbara Ensor Cook.

Careers for women: Northern Virginia Information and Counseling Center for Women, 133 Park St. NE, Vienna, Va. 22180. (703) 281-2657.

How to promote your professional services: Washington consultant Jeffrey P. Davidson, coauthor of Marketing Your Consulting and Professional Services (John Wiley & Sons Inc., $19.95). Marketing skills for psychologists available from Clinical Consultants Inc., 7361 McWhorter Pl., Suite 300, Annandale, Va. 22003. (703) 642-3434.

Accomplishing more with better meetings: Robert Maidment and William Bullock's booklet Meetings!, available from the National Association of Secondary Principals, 1904 Association Dr., Reston, Va. 22091. CHILDREN

Local outlets for children's writing: District Lines Magazine, P.O. Box 32325, Washington, D.C. 20007. Grades 4-9; Parkmont School poetry contest, c/o Parkmont Poetry Festival, 3100 Military Rd. NW, Washington, D.C. 20015. 202-537-0992. Grades 6-9. Deadline March 7.

Summer alternatives: "Parent's Guide to Accredited Camps" ($6.95), the American Camping Association, 335 E. 46th St., New York, N.Y. 10017; "Summer Opportunities for Kids and Teenagers" ($9.95 plus handling) from Peterson's Guides, Princeton, N.J. 08540; and assistance available from the Association of Independent Camps, Dept. SED, 157 W. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019; A Teenager's Guide to the Best Summer Opportunities (Harvard Common Press, $9.95) by Jan Greenberg.

Volunteers: Young Volunteers in Action, a nationwide program for ages 14 to 22, requires eight hours of work a month. Write ACTION, Office of Communications, Washington D.C. 20525; Directory of National Voluntary Organizations, available from the National Council on the Aging, 600 Maryland Ave. NW, West Wing 100, Washington, D.C. 20024.

International travel programs: The Whole World Handbook ($8.95), published annually by the Council of International Educational Exchange, 205 E. 42 St., New York, N.Y. 10017. For lists of programs and publications, contact the National Association for Foreign Student Affairs, 1860 19th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. COMPUTERS

Rediscovering writing. For information on educational software, the Educational Software Selector (Educational Products Information Exchange, $59.95) contains reviews and descriptions of almost 7,000 educational programs. For more information: P.O. Box 839, Water Mill, N.Y. 11976; also, Growing up Writing by Linda Leonard Lamme (Acropolis, $8.95) and Teaching Writing with Computers: The Power Process by Gwen Solomon (Prentice-Hall).

Resources for tapping into the free -- or nearly free -- software world: How to Get Free Software by Alfred Glossbrenner (St. Martin's Press, $14.95); The Free Software Handbook: 1984-85 CP/M Edition by T. Gregory Platt, Patricia Law Hatcher, Blake H. Van Meter (PeopleTalk, $17.95, plus $2 handling. Selects the 70 best public-domain CP/M programs. Disks containing tested software also available. For more information, PeopleTalk Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 863652, Plano, Tex. 75075); A catalogue, Freeloaders Do It Cheaper, describes collections available for Apple, Atari, Commodore, IBM-PC and PC Jr., Texas Instruments and Vic computers. Also available, TRS-80 and CP/M collections. Each order accompanied by a machine-specific user guide. Contact: The National Software Lending Library (lets you borrow and copy public-domain software by mail for a yearly fee of $75; nonmembers can buy or rent public-domain software), 507 Race St., Cambridge, Md. 21613. (301) 221-0051.

Telecommuting know-how:

Telecommuting Review: The Gordon Report, published monthly by TeleSpan Publishing Corp., 50 W. Palm St., Altadena, Calif. 91001. $117 a year; Telecommuting Report: The Monthly Newsletter of Trends & Developments in Location-Independent Work, published by Electronic Services Unltd., 142 W. 24th St., New York, N.Y. 10011. $145 a year; Association of Electronic Cottagers (AEC), P.O. Box 604, Sierra Madre, Calif. 91024. (818) 355-2110. Annual dues for charter members $50. COPING

Area facilities offering counseling to victims include: District of Columbia -- Rape Crisis Center, P.O. Box 21005, Washington D.C. 20009. (202) 333-7273. National Organization for Victim Assistance, 717 D St. NW, (202) 393-NOVA. Sexual assault counseling, Women's Medical Center, Suite 704, 1712 I St. NW, (202) 298-9227 and (202) 298-6655 (teletype for hearing-impaired, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday). Maryland -- Community Crisis Center, Sexual Assault Services, 4910 Auburn Ave., Bethesda; hotline, (301) 656-9420. Prince George's County Sexual Assault Center, Prince George's County Hospital, 1 Hospital Drive, Cheverly; hotline, (301) 341-4942. Virginia -- Arlington County Rape and Domestic Violence Companion Program, 1725 N. George Mason Dr., Arlington; Domestic violence, (703) 558-2347; Rape crisis, (703) 558-2048; Northern Va. hotline, (703) 527-4077. Victim Assistance Network, Mount Vernon Center for Community Mental Health, 8119 Horing with some of his work. Methodist, Lou & Judy Bukauskas, Springfield (703) 451-5824. Marriage Enrichment Retreats -- Washington Pastoral Counseling Service, (202) 332-2131, 1500 16th St. NW; Dick & Jeanne Carr, (703) 354-2808. Close Companions: The Marriage Enrichment Handbook by David R. Mace (Continuum, $17.50). EDUCATION

Among Washington-area programs that assess and deal with the underachieving child: The Institute for Motivational Development, 11119 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. 20852. (301) 468-1200; Specific Diagnostics, 11600 Nebel St., Suite 130, Rockville, Md. 29852. (301) 468-6616. For two free pamphlets, "What to Do If Your Child Is an Underachiever" and "Parents' Guide to the Periodic Progress Report," send a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope to Underachiever, Boys Town Center, Boys Town, Neb. 68010.

Learning how to learn: Faith and Cecil Clark work with children and adults at The Human Development Clinic and its nonprofit training arm, the National Learning Laboratory, 8417 Bradley Blvd., Bethesda, Md. 20817. For information about future seminars (301) 365-7700.

The Cooperative Employer Education Program enlists District youths for 20-week apprenticeships in home rehabilitation. Call the Home Builders Institute at (202) 822-0494.

For publications and information on internships, field experience options and community classrooms: National Society for Internships and Experiential Education, 122 St. Mary's St., 2nd Floor, Raleigh, N.C. 27605. (919) 834-7536. FAMILIES

Preparing a child for a hospital stay: The Association for the Care of Children's Health, 3615 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016. (202) 244-1801, hospital checklist and other publications available; Family Communications Inc., 4802 Fifth Ave. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213 (412) 687-2990, brochures for children and parents;

For children -- A Hospital Story by Sara Bonnet Stein (Walker and Co., $7.95); Why Am I Going to the Hospital? by Claire Ciliotta and Carole Livingston (Lyle Stuart, Inc., $12); The Hospital Book by James Howe and Mal Warshaw (Crown Publishers, New York, $4.95).

Nanny training and placement services: The National Academy of Nannies Inc. (NANI), 3665 Cherry Creek Dr. N., Suite 320, Denver, Colo. 80209. (303) 333-NANI; Nanny Placement Services Inc., 1621 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20007. (202) 342-1405; Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Alexandria Campus, Nanny-certificate program: (703) 845-6224. FOCUS

For information on theater access to people with restricted vision, hearing or mobility: Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, (202) 638-2406; Drama and Theater By With and For Handicapped Individuals, (202) 357-1502; National Committee Arts with the Handicapped, (202) 332-6960; National Endowment for the Arts, Office for Special Constituencies, (202) 682-5530; National Organization on Disability, community partnership program, (202) 293-5960.

Two ways to maintain individual control over the manner of one's death: the "living will" and the less well-known "durable power of attorney." Resources for these and other instruments/aspects of final planning -- Information on living wills, funeral services, wills, organ donations, $1, from the Older Women's League (OWL), 1325 G St. NW, Lower Level B, Washington, D.C. 20005. (202) 783-6686. Also from OWL, "Taking Charge of the End of Your Life" is available for $4.50. A "gray paper" on death and public policy including living wills and durable power of attorney is expected to be available by the end of January for $3.50. Information on, and model drafts of, living wills and grants of durable power of attorney -- Concern for Dying, 250 W. 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10107. (212) 246-6962. A four-page planning tool, "Putting My House in Order," on which you can note funeral plans and financial and property information: Continental Association of Funeral and Memorial Societies, 2001 S St. NW, Suite 530, Washington, D.C. 20009. IDEAS

For planning after school time for kids: Center for Early Adolescence, University of North Carolina, Suite 223, Carr Mill Mall, Carrboro, N.C. 27510. (919) 966-1148. Publications on programming for 10- to 15-year-olds and training for youth workers. School's Out -- Now What? by Joan Bergstrom (Ten Speed Press). Among Washington area groups that offer after-school, weekend and vacation activities for children ages 9-14: Audubon Naturalist Society, 8940 Jones Mill Rd., Chevy Chase, Md. (301) 652-5964; L'Academie de Cuisine, 5021 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, Md. (301) 986-9490; Glen Echo Park, MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md. (301) 492-6282; Reston Community Center, 2310 Colts Neck Rd., Reston, Va. (703) 476-4500; Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, (202) 462-4438; YM & YWCA -- elementary school-based programs through Bowen Y (202-462-1054) and Urban Y (202-398-2600); contact other Y's for their programs; D.C. Department of Recreation, (202) 576-7132; Arlington County Recreation Division, (703) 558-2700; Fairfax County Recreation and Community Services, (703) 385-5027; Montgomery County Recreation Department, eastern area (301-593-9670); northern area (301-540-1300); western area (301-468-4210); special services (301-468-4050). Prince George's County Recreation Department, (301) 699-2407. Check-In Programs: Potomac Area Council of Camp Fire, (301-495-7833) and Reston Children's Center, (703) 476-8150. SENIORS

Local offices offering help to older workers: Employment Assistance -- Forty-Plus, 1718 P St. NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 387-1582; Private Sector Initiative Program, National Alliance of Business, Washington, D.C. (202) 289-2847; Over-60 Counseling and Employment Service of the Montgomery County Federation of Women's Clubs Inc., 4700 Norwood Dr., Chevy Chase, Md., (301) 652-8072 (open to persons age 50 and up, despite the name); Senior Citizen Employment and Services of Alexandria Inc., 121 N. Saint Asaph St., Alexandria, (703) 836-4ring with some of his work. Maryland -- financial-aid office (301) 454-3046; if you need help in financial planning to meet college costs, the Early Financial Aid Planning Service of the College Board will analyze your resources and offer specific suggestions. Write them at CN 603, Princeton, N.J. 08541. The analysis costs $9.50; two pamphlets: Don't Miss Out, published by Octameron Associates, P.O. Box 3437, Alexandria, Va. 22302, and The College Financial Aid Emergency Kit, published by Sun Features Inc., Box 368, Cardiff, Calif. 92007. Both cost $3.50.

For information on employe benefits: Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, 1660 L St. NW, Suite 715, Washington, D.C. 20036. (202) 659-4300. TRENDS

To arrange for your own mystery weekend: Partners in Crime, Larry Redmond, (202) 667-3131; Source Theater Company, Bart Whiteman, (202) 462-1073; 1809 14th St. NW; Murder to Go, David Landau, (212) 206-1255, Suite 144, 496 Hudson St., New York, N.Y. 10014; The Mystery Train, Richard Doherr, (714) 494-6800; Pickwick Productions, P.O. Box 162, Laguna Beach, Calif. 92652. WHEELS

All-American Soap Box Derby: For information, contact Paul McGowan, (301) 279-7174; to sponsor a car, contact the Downtown Jaycees, (202) 293-0480.

For bicycling in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia area: The third edition of The Greater Washington Area Bicycle Atlas, for $6.95, at local cycle stores and the Potomac Area Council of American Youth Hostels, (202) 783-4943. YOU

For information on prepaid legal-service plans: The National Resource Center for Consumers of Legal Services, 3254 Jones Court, Washington, D.C. 20007, (202) 338-0714; The American Pre-Paid Legal Services Institute, 750 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, Ill. 60611, (312) 988-5751; HALT Inc., Suite 312, 201 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002, (202) 546-4258; Greenbelt Cooperative Inc., 8406 Greenwood Place, Savage, Md. 20763, (301) 953-2770.

For drafting an ethical will: Ethical Wills: A Modern Jewish Treasury, edited and annotated by Jack Riemer and Nathanial Stampfer (Schocken Books, 1983); Hebrew Ethical Wills, selected and edited by Israel Abrahams (Jewish Publication Society of America; Philadelphia, 1926, reissued 1976).