If you're a new investor with years to go before retirement -- or even a market veteran looking to step on the gas -- you'll want to consider growth stocks for your game plan. Indeed, I'd argue that even buttoned-down types will want some modicum of growth exposure for a very simple reason: The market really does move in cycles, and building a well-diversified portfolio that includes choice exposure to growth and value picks is a recipe for long-term investment success.

Smart stocks
I highlighted a clutch of smart stocks trading at nice discounts in this earlier commentary, and as I point out here, now's a terrific time to be a growth investor, too. Growth has been on the ropes (relative to value) for many years now, but given the market's historical tendency to revert to the mean, the safe money says it'll eventually bounce back.

The upshot? While these stocks' juicer earnings-growth prospects may require you to pay a premium to own 'em, that premium could look paltry compared with the returns you can earn by taking the growth plunge now.

For instance...
Just ask investors in the likes of Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and EchoStar Communications (NASDAQ:DISH). Analysts expect that this power pair of growth stocks will expand earnings at a clip of more than 20% over the next five years. Yes, their P/Es leave the broader market average in the dust, but these stocks are far from average: For the decade that ended with December, each delivered an annualized gain greater than 25%.

That's also true of Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Network Appliance (NASDAQ:NTAP), and while the performance history of Hologic (NASDAQ:HOLX) and Ventana Medical Systems (NASDAQ:VMSI) isn't quite so rich, their earnings estimates are even brighter. Analysts expect their annual growth to top 25% over the next five years.

Risk vs. reward
To be sure, growth stocks carry plenty of built-in risk: If richly valued companies fail to deliver on expectations, they can fall to earth in a hurry. That's why owning them in the context of a smartly designed portfolio is the best way to proceed -- and why we focus like a laser beam on portfolio construction at our Motley Fool Green Light service.

Since our very first issue, we've been offering specific, actionable advice that members can use to assemble an investing lineup tailor-made for their timelines and tolerances for risk -- growth stocks most definitely included. Indeed, our October issue includes a profile of the market's "Growth Stock Fire Sale," offering three specific investment ideas that savvy investors can use to take advantage of it.

If you'd like to sneak a peek at that list -- as well as our complete archives, advisor blogs, and feature-rich companion website -- just click here. A risk-free 30-day guest pass is yours for the taking. Give us a try, and be sure to let us know what you think: Our members-only boards are part of the guest-pass package, too.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service and co-advises Motley Fool Green Light with his pal Dayana Yochim. At the time of publication, he didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Starbucks and Yahoo! are Stock Advisor recommendations. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking right here.