What passes for marketing messages among many Wall Street firms is often just “fanciful lying”. Words have meaning and comprehending certain words can have a transformative impact on your financial future. Here are our Top 10: 1. Strive – whatever your future financial aspirations might be, you will likely have to strive to make these a reality. This means saving (or the inverse, controlling spending), taking action steps, (not just intending to take action), and willingness to make trade offs. 2. History- we all know the phrase, “those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.” This surely holds true with investing. Understanding the broad swath of market history including both up and down periods is critical to your financial success. 3. Behavior- most of us think that just because we might be smart we can avoid emotional and behavioral blunders. Not so fast! Almost a century of financial market history guides us along the path forward but we can endanger everything by letting our human emotions take charge. 4. Trust- because of our human “blind spots” we can’t really forge our financial way alone. It’s important, no it’s imperative to your financial future that you find someone you can trust to guide you through important financial life decisions. 5. Enough- Your financial future will never be happy unless you can find that place called enough. Yes, this needs to include growing your income well into retirement to account for living cost increases, but there should be a place that is enough. Otherwise you are left to spend your days in the land of more, maximize, and optimize. Illusive and stress imbued, this is not the place you want to live your life. 6. Planning- ongoing, active financial planning is required in order to properly navigate changes in conditions and surprises that inevitably happen along the way. A “one and done” plan is of little value because life doesn’t happen according to plan. 7. Truth- we are truth tellers. One of our clients coined this aspect of our advice as “radical candor” many years ago. Candor and truth for sure but the reason it might be “radical” is because it’s so rare. Don’t dodge the truth. 8. Reality- This is a close cousin to #7. Reality means dealing with your circumstances as they actually exist. Reality means understanding that if you are a few years away from retirement age and you haven’t properly prepared, you need to address that now and not wallow in all the reasons it might have been different. In the parlance of today “get real”. 9. Gaps- Most individuals have financial gaps between where they want to be and where they are today. Usually, these gaps amplify a specific gap between what we say and what we actually do. If we say we have certain aspirations and values but our actions tell a different story, a gap appears. The longer the gap exists, the more of a problem it presents. Shine a light on the gaps and decide what is needed to close them. 10. Risk- No list would be complete without addressing head on the topic of risk. Risk is anything that you don’t expect and that you can’t see. I recall a couple of clients wanting to get out of the stock market a decade ago because of the perceived risk. In actuality, the real risk was not in the transient decline but in missing out on the returns that accrued afterwards. Our human nature searches for certainty but that is always a mirage. Real growth happens when we accept uncertainty and become “comfortable being uncomfortable.”The common thread between all of these words is that our financial life is not separate from the rest of our life. The other major theme within most of these words is control. We can only control certain inputs, not the outcomes. Ultimately, financial planning is a process that is built on educated guesses. No one knows precisely how tomorrow will unfold. The best you can do is be prepared for what to expect. Start there.