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The New Year is traditionally a time for self-examination and committing to life changes. Whatever the changes and however desirable they may be, we often discover that it is difficult to sustain them. Here are a few suggestions to help you formulate and maintain your resolutions.

January 7, 2009

The coming year will be the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, and the celebrations – rightly – will be myriad. But as the list of Lincoln events grows, I keep thinking of a far less celebrated 200th anniversary that took place in 2008. I would never have known about it, let alone cared, if I hadn’t chanced through Greeneville, Tennessee, last spring.

My own aging, along with that of my parents, siblings, and friends, has challenged me to become a student of what experts are calling "healthy aging." Using myself as both lab rat and lab attendant, I've been browsing, digging, reading, listening, and reacting. I've also been toning my triceps, filling up on fiber, ohm-ing at yoga, and banging the strings around my fingers against my head, asking, where has all the gray matter gone?

Who do you really want to get your money when you (and your spouse) are done with it? Is your will up-to-date and complete? Did you know that if your investment account has beneficiaries, your money will go where you have designated it to go, not where your will says it should? In fact, this is an issue for many types of accounts you may own – those jointly held, your IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plans, all kinds of trusts, annuities and life insurance.

Somewhere in the 1970s, a friend gave me a quotation from a book called “The Last Unicorn,’’ by Peter Beagle. I’ve never read the book, but I’ve kept that little quote above my desk ever since. This is what it says:

If someone were to ask you to describe yourself, how would you respond? If you are like us, you might start with facts about your roles and relationships.

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