We can’t help ourselves. Every year, after slogging through weeks of budget forecasting and a 24-hour tryptophan-induced coma, we look up at our calendars only to realize it’s December—and immediately, our minds dart back to the past year. What did 2009 bring? Did I achieve what I wanted personally, professionally, physically, spiritually? If you’re like most people, you think about the highs and the lows of the year, the hits and the misses, and, in all likelihood, the mistakes you’ve made.

Perhaps you didn’t approach your lenders soon enough to renegotiate the terms of that loan you’ve got coming due. Maybe you waited too long before deploying your distressed asset fund and missed out on a prime urban infill opportunity. You may be wondering if you trimmed too many costs—and laid off too many employees—in your efforts to become the most streamlined multifamily organization in your marketplace. (And then, of course, there’s Sarah Palin, who is probably kicking herself for not holding out for a heftier book advance.)

The question then: Do you regret those decisions? Or leave them in the past and move on?

I know plenty of people who don’t believe in regrets. “Live life for the moment; chalk it up to experience,” they say. I don’t know that I agree. Having regrets means admitting to yourself that you made a mistake. In fact, I would argue it’s a good thing to have some regrets. It reminds you of the missteps you’ve made in life and in business. And it’s a feeling you only come to realize after a period of reflection, analysis, and understanding. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe in dwelling on those regrets, but having them, acknowledging them, and embracing them helps you learn and grow.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Make the most of your regrets ... to regret deeply is to live afresh.” With that in mind, we’re dedicating this issue to leaving 2009 (and any mistakes you’ve made) in the past. If you have regrets, don’t discard them. Put them in your back pocket. Remember them. And recognize their existence. But start 2010 anew.

To help you with that endeavor, our senior editor Chris Wood culled together 20 strategies across the development, ownership, investment, and management sectors of the multifamily industry that will help you navigate and survive what is anticipated to be another rough year of trouncing along the bottom. Some of the strategies are straightforward: Find the right balance between occupancies and actual rents. Others are a little more surprising: Prepare for the return of development. (Yes, new ground will actually be broken in 2010.) The ideas start on page 33.

Considering that it’s the month for reflection, I’ll throw another nugget of wisdom your way: “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” Author Jim Rohn said that. And he’s right. I’m sure there isn’t a mortgage banker, analyst, or single-family home builder out there who doesn’t wish they had shown more discipline during the boom years. So here’s hoping that come 2010, you acknowledge your mistakes, remember your regrets, and use what you’ve learned to help lead your company in a more disciplined, and ultimately more successful, way.