For the retirement industry, there wasn't much to gloat about in 2011. 401(k) account balances shot to record highs in the first quarter, and by the end of September, they retreated to 2010 levels – or lower.

Household net worth isn't any better than it was during the financial crisis, yet perhaps the silver lining is that through all this, workers are still contributing to their 401(k)s.

Still, in order to move forward, we need to reflect on what's passed. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

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