The inspiration for today’s article comes from something I am currently experiencing in my personal life. I recently sold my luxury house in Queensland Australia and am currently renting while my family and I decide where we really want to live. Our plans were to eradicate all assets and debt, as my wife and I are both quite young and with my profession as a trader and coach, I have the ability to be mobile. We decided that we wanted to try living a stripped down and nomadic lifestyle for a while and welcomed the freedom it promised.
However, this doesn’t mean all people will want to be nomadic and travel around the world living in different places. The lesson that I want to put forth today, is that as humans we tend to over-clutter our lives with addictions and materialism (houses, cars, so forth). Halfway through 2012 I said enough is enough and I set out to completely remove all clutter and unnecessary possessions, even small things. Basically, I wanted to be free of all these burdens…because I realized I had a bunch of stuff I didn’t need, and I felt it was holding me back. I had more than one car that I didn’t really need, I owned a house I wasn’t happy with and that was too big, etc. I just felt I had too many things that were cluttering my life and my mind; my goal was to set out to only have a suit case, a laptop, and my favorite book.
The reason I’m sharing this story with you, is because I believe that most of you out there can benefit from applying a similar logic to your life, i.e. de-cluttering, liquefy assets and removing debt. People can interpret it however they want, but the core thing is to keep with you only what you absolutely need in an effort to save time, save money, remove stress, and more.
… So what the hell does this have to do with trading you ask?
What we are setting out to do today is to become ‘minimalists’ as applied to trading, and as we have discussed already, this can apply to other areas of life too…getting rid of unnecessary things…all possessions that you don’t really need…all unnecessary emotional attachments to things, minimalism is almost a religion of sorts. Many of you know that I take a very stripped down and simple approach to trading the markets, and so if you think about the benefits of being a minimalist in everyday life, it really is no big surprise that it’s also the best way to trade the markets.
To find out more about “Minimalism” as defined by one of the blogs that I follow, click here.
Forget the stereotypical facade of a pro trader
The first step to becoming a minimalist trader is to lose the facade of the cliché trader with his lovely office, big wooden desk and several stacks of monitors with the latest trading software – you only need a laptop, FREE trading software (get it here), an effective forex trading strategy and your brain. The reality is that you do not need a big office, multiple monitors and an expensive data feed to be a successful trader.
The stereotypical facade of a “pro trader” is what many of us are addicted too…but it’s not reality…reality is a guy trading from a coffee shop on his PC.
Get rid of all the excess weight you have if you are still learning how to trade or you’re struggling to trade successfully. If you want to add a big trading desk with multiple monitors and all the bells and whistles after you become a successful trader, that’s OK. But don’t think you need to go out and drop 5 grand on your trading office in order to make money in the markets. Some of the best traders in the world just trade off a laptop. You don’t NEED an office with 3 computers or a fancy workstation.
I personally have gone from having a big trading office with multiple monitors back to an Ultra book PC and wireless internet, sometimes I even use my iPhone for my web connection…I realized my ego and greed took over before, and these things negatively impacted my trading.
Minimize what you put on your charts, maximize trading results
Unless this is your first time on this blog, you probably know that I teach what some might call a “minimalist” approach to trading. However, you might not know WHY I trade and teach this approach.
It usually takes every trader a certain amount of trial and error before they figure out that most of their trading mistakes resulted from ‘stupid’ things they did, and not necessarily from the trading method they were using. Most traders lose money because they make emotional trading mistakes; this is something most all of us can agree on.
However, the role that having tons of “crap” on your charts plays as a contributor to your trading problems, is often overlooked. Just as the materialist mentality of needing to buy more things to make us feel happy or fulfilled is a flawed mentality, so is the mentality that adding more technical indicators and analysis tools will somehow make you a better trader. One of the big secrets to success in all areas of life and indeed even to happiness is that less is often better. Just as having less material things in my life has significantly increased my peace of mind, bank account and time spent with my family, it can also help you to become a better person and trader.
I mentioned above that trader error is the main cause of losing money in the markets, not the particular trading method you use. However, most traders naturally assume that it’s their trading system or strategy to blame for their losses in the market. They then set out on a quest to find the ‘best’ trading method, adding indicators, Elliot Waves, super-turbo 5,000 trading robots, and everything else under the sun to their charts. This provides them with a false sense of security and hope for a while, until they realize it’s not doing anything to improve their trading results. The point here is that MORE IS NOT BETTER!
You see, as traders our trading mindset is the most important piece of the puzzle. However, the strategy or system that we use to trade with can and does have a profound effect on our trading mindset. So, when we try trading with 10 different indicators on our charts, we get confused, conflicted, and frustrated and once this happens it’s only a matter of time before these feelings result in impulsive and emotional trading. So, we can see that our mindset is perhaps the key to success in the markets, but because our trading strategy influences our trading mindset heavily, it too is very important.
The next time you want to put an indicator on your chart ask “Do I really need this? Is this really going to help me?”. “DO I REALLY NEED THIS?”….We want to only trade with what we need …..
How to incorporate minimalism into your trading routine (and everyday life)
• Ditch the forex indicators and trading robots and start over with a totally clean price chart. This act alone will do a lot to calm your nerves and your mind while analyzing the markets.
• Learn to trade with simple price action strategies. After you ditch the indicators you will need to learn how to trade off the raw price action of the market. Whilst this might seem different to you at first, I can promise you it’s a lot easier and makes a lot more sense than whatever messy method you were trading with before.
• After you learn to trade with price action, understand that you don’t have to spend a lot of time analyzing the markets each day. You can learn to trade in an end of day manner and fit trading in around your day job.
• Forget about trying to analyze 20 different markets each day. Minimize the markets you trade and this will work to sharpen your focus on the handful that you like the best. I focus on the major forex currency pairs and a few other markets like oil, gold, and the Dow.
• Don’t worry about multiple monitor setups, fancy trading desks, extremely expensive computers, monthly data feed subscriptions, or any of these other ‘luxury’ trading office items. Truth is, you don’t NEED them. They are nice things to have if you can truly afford them, but you really don’t need them to trade successfully. I can afford these things but I don’t have them anymore because I realized they were contributing to feelings of greed and materialism, and most of all I realized I just didn’t need them.
• One of the things I also did was got a P.O. box for my mail. This might seem like a small thing, but it’s all about downsizing and consolidating, and each little thing you downsize or get rid of adds up. Now, I only collect my mail once a week, this saves time and it changes the ‘process’ of your life…I took a minimalist approach to getting my mail, this freed up time and energy each day to devote to other more important things, even if it was a small amount of time each day.
• Make sure your trading room or trading location is clean and simple. Whether it’s in your home or from the local Starbucks, make your surroundings minimal. You don’t need 50 trading books sitting around, instead, pick your favorite 3 and keep them with you (hopefully one of those is my book :)). If you have to, put all the ‘junk’ that you really don’t need in a storage unit, I did that, and it really makes you realize that you don’t need the majority of the things you thought you did.
People like to hoard things; they hoard possessions, money, collectables, you name it. It’s a fact that when most people get a pay raise they simply tend to buy more things (crap) that they really don’t need, thus keeping them stuck in a perpetual cycle of consumerism and materialism. I am telling you that you do not need to live this way. You don’t have to be a slave to debt anymore, and you don’t have to try and keep up with the “Joneses”…who cares about the Joneses, they aren’t that interesting anyway.
You see, there’s a common thread between minimalism as a lifestyle choice, a trading choice, and happiness and success. That thread consists of the fact that material items do not bring you happiness, trading success is not the result of having lots of indicators and fancy office equipment, and success is more easily attainable with a clutter-free and streamlined lifestyle. Have you ever seen that show “Hoarders” on A&E? If you have seen it, you would agree that possessions don’t make you successful or happy. Materialism is a real addiction, buying things satisfies some primitive urge that we need to feel secure. This is very similar to why traders get addicted and dependent on indicators, reading economic reports, trading robots, and you name it. We tend to overlook the most obvious things in life, such as the fact that happiness is readily available for free by just spending time with loved ones, or that the raw and unobstructed price action of a market provides us with all the technical clues we need to develop an effective trading strategy.
From here, you need to take the next step and decide if you are living a cluttered life, and if so, how can you de-clutter it? Similarly, you need to take a look at your trading approach and decide if it’s simple, logical, and effective or full of clutter and confusion. If you want to de-clutter your approach to trading, I suggest you checkout my price action trading course and see just how much taking a minimalist approach to your trading will improve your overall trading results.
Good trading, Nial Fuller