By investor do you mean that you are looking to "bet it and forget it"?
I think we are in an epoch where we will see large swings in both directions without net movement in either so a more managed, trading approach is the way to go.
Find a small amount of starting capital (you could start with 2-3 k even), open an equities account with a low cost broker and then join me at BullBear Trading Service. We take trades that last from a few days to a few months (longer is better) and you can multiply that fairly quickly. The 401k may not do much for a while (though there is some chance that we are at the beginning of a sustained bull move in stocks...it's not clear yet).