One Fool always worth heeding is our resident retirement whiz, Robert Brokamp. In a subscription-only area of the site, he recently wrote:

[Y]ou will remember these days -- the market "panic" of 2008 -- for the rest of your lives. You will be talking about them one, two, three decades from now. And what you do today will dictate your financial well-being when you're doing that talking many years hence.

Folks, that's dead-on. The last couple of months or so, from the collapse of Lehman Brothers to the beginning of November, brought us a series of events unprecedented in our lifetimes. Unless you lived through the opening phases of the Great Depression, you've never seen a financial crisis like this one. And even the Depression didn't unfold with the speed and drama and global scope of this panic.

Fortunately, the acute fear that has been driving the markets for weeks is starting to recede. And while further losses are certainly possible, and further crises and problems no doubt lie ahead, the pace of events is unlikely to return to the daily-horror-show tempo that we saw in early October.

That's all good news. And at some point, things will start to turn around and actually improve. That will be even better news -- for those who are ready.

But the time to get ready is limited.

This window of opportunity will close
This has truly been a global crisis. The stocks of well-regarded companies all around the world have taken significant hits:


Closing price on Sept. 2, 2008

October low

Closing price on Nov. 5, 2008

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)




Petroleo Brasileiro (NYSE:PBR)




Luxottica Group (NYSE:LUX)




Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)




Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)




Koninklijke Philips (NYSE:PHG)




Telkom Indonesia (NYSE:TLK)




Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Those are all giant companies with solid long-term prospects. Many are longtime Fool favorites. All are trading at big discounts to their prices at the beginning of September -- but all are already up solidly from their recent lows. These discounted conditions won't last forever.

But just buying a grab-bag of stocks is clearly not the optimal way to take advantage of current prices. And if your main investing focus is your 401(k), buying stocks directly may not be an option at all. How can we best position ourselves now to profit from the recovery?

How can we avoid decades of regret?

A road map for right now
Whether you're approaching retirement or many years away, whether your main investment vehicle is a 401(k) or a conventional stock portfolio, the aforementioned Robert Brokamp is on the case. In the new issue of the Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter, available online at 4 p.m. EST today, Brokamp lays out a complete set of steps for making the most of the current market -- no matter your own situation.

There's obviously a lot to think about right now. Rebalancing and repositioning your stock portfolio, your allocation to bonds and other non-stock investments, smart moves around your mortgage and taxes and your monthly expenses in light of the onrushing recession... it's a long list, and Brokamp hits all the points in a lengthy article that's the centerpiece of the new issue.

It's worth a careful read, and it won't cost you a cent. Yes, Rule Your Retirement is a paid service, but a free trial is yours right now for the asking.

These aren't simple times. Even if you're not inclined to pay a financial advisor for help, a resource like Rule Your Retirement can provide a cost-effective guide and sanity check as we move through the panic's aftermath. Your free trial gives you 30 days of complete access to all of Rule Your Retirement's content and services, including a members-only message board where you can get expert advice on your own unique situation.

Won't you join us? Click here to claim your free trial. There's absolutely no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor John Rosevear has no position in the stocks mentioned. Telekom Indonesia and Luxottica are Motley Fool Global Gains recommendations. Telekom Indonesia and Petroleo Brasileiro are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. Starbucks and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.