It is my belief that anyone can learn to trade successfully if they really want it bad enough. However, most people fail at trading simply because their desire to become successful at it is not strong enough to force them into having persistent self-discipline. In other words, they simply cannot muster the will power to consistently behave in a logical manner each day in the market. If you really want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to achieve it, which is just as true for trading as it is for everything else in life.
Do you ever sit there in front of your charts and think to yourself “If other people can make a living trading the market then I can do it too, but what am I doing wrong?” I’m sure you’ve had that thought before, and it’s a very logical thought to have, and it’s really the first step toward moving in the right direction as a trader. In today’s lesson, I want to give you some insight into how you can unlock your full trading potential, because I’m willing to bet that at this point in time you are not properly utilizing all the mental faculties you possess to pull consistent money out of the market…
Emulate successful traders
The first thing I want you to do in order to begin unlocking your full trading potential, is to have a vision of yourself as a successful trader, because you need to emulate those you most wish to be like. I want you to sit back and think about how you would feel and act if you were already a full-time trader or at the trading level you wish to be at. Close your eyes and really imagine every aspect of your personality and life as a successful trader, make notes of how you feel and what you see in your vision.
Next, I want you to begin to make changes in your life according to the vision of yourself as a successful trader. Did you imagine yourself as more relaxed and confident? Maybe you saw a nice clean and organized trading desk that you trade from? Whatever you saw, start doing those things NOW, because they aren’t going to magically rain down on you from the ‘trading gods’…you have to MAKE your own destiny. That means doing what pro traders do and thinking how they think, even if you aren’t ‘sure’ what that might be, use your vision to guide you and do your best, you at least need to try to make some positive changes in agreement with who you want to be and what you hope to achieve.
Mastery in ANY field is always first accompanied by a complete mental shift into the person you want to be…you have to be that person BEFORE the riches and wealth arrives…I know it can be difficult to ‘fake it ’till you make it’, but fortunately or unfortunately, it is a necessary piece of the puzzle to trading success, and to success in any other field as well.
Stop being afraid of failure
Anyone who has achieved anything significant in their life most likely failed many times on their way to finding success. If you Google any successful person, anyone, you will probably find they had many setbacks and failures before they finally achieved what they set out to achieve. Trading, is perhaps the only profession which involves failure both on the journey to mastery and success, as well as after achieving that mastery and success. You are always going to have to deal with losing trades, and the more you accept this and just think about it as ‘part of the game’, the less it will drag you down and affect you emotionally.
Thus, in trading we literally have a double-dose of failure and losing that we have to deal with. We have to struggle with failure as we learn how to trade and failure after we know how to trade, you have two choices in how you deal with this; face it head-on like a man, or try to avoid it and ignore it. Unfortunately, you cannot avoid losses as you trade, you will always have losing trades mixed in with your winners, if you try to avoid them by moving your stop losses further away or doing other silly things like hedging, you are really only delaying the inevitable…the losses will come, so it’s best to manage and contain them before they kill your trading account.
Thus, to unlock your full trading potential you have to really not be afraid of failing, because ‘failing’ is always going to be a part of trading. Stop thinking of a losing trade as a ‘failure’ and look at it as the price of being a trader…as the cost of trading. Your goal should be to contain your losses, not to cut them out entirely because it’s impossible to do so. If you contain them below a certain dollar amount that you’re comfortable with per trade, and try only to take high-probability price action trade signals, and do this consistently with discipline over a large series of trades, you should come out ahead. The main difference between successful and unsuccessful traders is that the successful ones have developed the mental ability to weather the emotional storm that accompanies both the ups and downs in trading. Whereas these same ups and downs will infect and destroy a weaker trader’s trading mindset, they may temporarily bend the successful trader, but never break him or her.
Learn from failed trades…don’t worry about them or try to ‘make back’ that money. Successful traders learn from failed trades and thus look at them in a positive light rather than a negative one.
Think, plan, make decisions and then take actions, with no guarantees…
In order to truly unlock your full trading potential, you have to do what professional traders do, (duh right?) But seriously, that means you have to think, plan and make decisions without any guarantees as to what is going happen with your trades. It is critical to remember that there are no guarantees with any one trade you take…your trading edge has random distribution of winners and losers.
Many people struggle with consistency and discipline in trading because they simply become too affected by their previous trade(s). They forget that trading is a marathon and not a sprint, and thus they start trading like the hare and less like the tortoise, as I describe in my Tortoise vs. Hare article. The most difficult aspect of successful trading is maintaining the ability to trade in a disciplined manner in the face of constant uncertainty. Most people have a very hard time acting disciplined with anything that has an uncertain outcome, so trading is difficult for most people. There really is no ‘short-cut’ to trading success…you have to stand in the ‘batter’s box’ and swing with confidence at every good pitch (trade setup), regardless of whether you hit a home run or a pop out fly. If you step into that batter’s box with low confidence and fear, you’re probably going to strike out most of the time from swinging at too many bad pitches (bad trade setups) and not swinging hard enough at the good ones.
The courage to begin and endure
The ironic part of trading is that there is no big ‘secret’ to trading success, most traders already know what they should be doing to attain long-term trading success, they just don’t have the motivation to do it consistently for a variety of reasons. If you want to really unlock your full trading potential, you have to persist, persistence over time and in the face of all obstacles you face in your trading, is key. You have to make the decision in advance that you will never give up, that you will persist in a disciplined manner no matter what, because this is what it takes to trade successfully.
One of my all-time favorite authors and motivational speakers, Napoleon Hill, said that self-discipline is the ‘master key to riches’. Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you know you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not; you have to force yourself to do what you know you should do. For many traders, their inability to maintain self-discipline over time, is thee reason why they are not profitable.
When you have persistent self-discipline, it builds your trading confidence and self-esteem, it’s like a positive trading snowball effect. The longer you trade with discipline, the more your positive trading habits will be reinforced, this will increase your confidence and the process will get easier and easier for you, until eventually you don’t have to ‘think’ about being a disciplined trader…you just ARE one…it becomes a part of you. Unfortunately, for most traders, making it to this level is something they never do, because they give in to the self-doubt, fear and temptation to trade in an undisciplined manner.
All Trading skills are learnable
Finally, it’s important to understand that all trading skills are learnable. Some of the mental skills that a successful trader must possess are easier for some people to develop than others, but if you want it bad enough you can develop them. I am not saying that becoming a successful trader is necessarily ‘easy’, but nothing that’s worth while in life is. You should take comfort in the fact that the only real obstacle blocking your path to trading success is YOU. Once you accept this and start doing the things you need to do to overcome it, you will be well on your way to unlocking your full trading potential.
The first big step to unlocking your full trading potential is emulating successful traders and learning the type of trading methods that they use and trying to get a feel for how they think about and trade the market. Price action trading is something that every successful trader understands and uses either as their main strategy or as part of their strategy, it is an essential component to any successful trader’s trading method. If you’re still lost in ‘indicator land’ and dreaming about some “Holy Grail” trading system, you are about as far away from consistently profitable trading as you can be. To truly unlock your full trading potential, you need to come down to reality and learn how professionals trade the market with price action strategies – like those taught in my pro trading courses.