Conventional wisdom says that if we want higher returns, we need to pick market-beating stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Reality: If we want higher returns, we should forget trying to outguess the market—and instead focus on taking sensible risk, holding down investment costs and minimizing taxes. 

But it also means settling on the right asset allocation and diversification strategy, maxing out our retirement accounts and buying tax-efficient investments in our taxable accounts. 

These are all aspects of our investment strategy that are entirely within our control—and where a little effort can pay big dividends.