What if I told you that you could become a significantly better trader starting next week? Well, you can, and it’s totally within your control. All you must do is decide to change how you currently think about trading and change how you are currently behaving in the market. If you aren’t happy with your trading results right now, it’s time to change something, wouldn’t you agree?
One of the most common reasons that traders never make it to the top of the trading ‘mountain’, is that they get stuck in an insane cycle of placing trades, obsessively watching the price of the instruments they’re trading as it moves up and down, and fiddling with the trade while it’s live, typically by exiting too early or too late.
These traders instinctively know their position sizes are far too big. Trading too big of size causes most people to become addicted to the ups and downs of the market; they can’t stop thinking about a trade until they are out of that trade. Have you ever caught yourself frantically checking your phone or computer throughout the day, waking up in the middle of the night thinking about a trade and feeling like you ‘need’ to check the profit / loss?
This destructive behavior quickly becomes a VERY serious lifestyle problem that will ultimately lead to a trader’s financial and mental demise.
Why do traders fall into this destructive mental loop?
So, why do so many traders seem to fall into this destructive mental loop of worrying too much about their trades? There are three main reasons for it:
- Trading a position size that is too large, which makes the trader overly-worried about losing the money they have risked (that they can’t afford to lose).
- Many people start trading without having obtained the skills or mindset of a professional trader, so they end up acting like a gambler in the market, going all in at a ‘casino table’. Subconsciously, many traders are simply trading for entertainment (gambling) and have not yet learned to treat trading like a business.
- Trading addiction – many traders are skilled chart technicians, but they simply become bored in life and they end up watching the screens all day (and night) for entertainment and because their brains are addicted to the rush of dopamine that gets released every time they enter a trade.
As any regular reader of my posts will know, I often say that the goal of a trader should be to place a trade and not think about it obsessively. Set the trade, walk away and forget about it (set and forget trading approach), let the market do its thing. You are in the market to take advantage of price movement, so stop interfering with the movement. All you can do is pre-define your trading plan and execute it properly, but once you enter the trade your job and involvement should typically be done; watching the charts won’t help a damn thing!
4 Solutions to Cure You of This Doomed Mindset and Behavior…
If you listen to the following four points and implement them, I promise it will turn your trading around completely…
- Trade a position size that matches your trading ability and knowledge
Too often, beginning traders ‘bet the farm’ right out of the gate, quickly losing a lot of money to the market. This is a gigantic error that you need to fix or prevent before it’s too late.
I want you to be realistic with yourself; if you have only been trading for 6 months or a year, you don’t know it all yet and you should only be risking tiny amounts relative to your overall risk capital pool and net worth. Until you’re a professional trader and you don’t need to read lessons like this you’re technically still a novice, so be humble and remind yourself that a novice has no place walking out into the market and pretending they have the skill level to bet 20% of their account on one trade.
I will never understand why some people jump into the market with a 5 or 10K account and start risking $200 per trade just because some book or blog says “hey, risk 2% of your account” or whatever, it’s ridiculous. If you want to survive long enough to become a profitable trader, you must allow enough time to experience the ups and downs of trading (that will teach you real live lessons). If you want to live another day in the market, you must preserve your bankroll by making sure you only trade a position size that you can tolerate given your trading ability and mental state. Protect your bankroll and play good defense, always.
- Trade a position size that lets you sleep soundly at night
Forget about what people say about risking a certain percentage or dollar amount per trade and forget about how much money you have in your account; the only thing that matters is what you know is a comfortable amount to have at risk on any one trade… know your limits and be at peace with an amount you can go to bed at night and lose.
You need to trade a position size that you can mentally tolerate to the point where you can go to sleep at a normal time and not lay awake thinking about your trade(s).
You do this by first figuring out your real risk number – be serious and honest with yourself about this. What is your income? What is your debt? What is your overall net worth? Do the math and come up with a figure you know you can risk comfortably on one trade and live with if you lose. The best way I have found over many, many years in the markets is still a simple ‘sleep test’. If you can fall asleep as you normally do and stay asleep and not wake up thinking about your trades, you have risked an acceptable amount for YOU (this will be different for each trader).
Remember, you need to start somewhere and if you can’t make money on a smaller position size, how will you ever make money on a larger position size? The market will always be there, so get rid of any notion of ‘urgency’ or FOMO (fear of missing out) – it’s all in your head, and if you don’t control it, it will control you.
- A regime to re-build trading confidence
If you’ve fallen off the wagon regarding your trading discipline and consistency, I can get you back on it, just do something like the following…
The most important thing is to work on rebuilding your self-confidence in your trading. You need to eliminate doubt and fear from the equation, which can be a hard thing to do if you’ve gone off on an addiction-fueled trading excursion and lost a lot of money in the process.
You will need to ‘exercise’ your brain and condition it properly so that you develop the right habits and routine, this will simultaneously boost your confidence in your ability to execute your trading edge.
For example: you can try setting up 20 trades in a row with a 100% set and forget mentality. Risk a smaller size than you were before and aim for 1 to 1 risk / reward on each trade. Remember this is an exercise to train your brain to place a trade, believe in the trade, walk away and let the market do its thing. You are working on letting go and being less-involved with your trades. You set a goal of doing this for 20 straight trades and you should see wins and this should build your confidence back up and program your brain properly – so that you see the value in doing nothing.
- The best distraction
In the opening, I discussed the need for distraction and that many traders simply become bored (even good traders) and this results in trading addiction. The way you prevent this is by distractions. These distractions can take the form of many things; hobbies, family time, vacations, etc. But, perhaps the best distraction will be an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and trading skill development. Ideally, you should combine all the above. You want to find things to occupy your time, so the hours go faster so that you don’t even have time to check your trades or worry about the money you’re risking. Be productive! Sitting in front of your charts watching the markets tick by tick is NOT producing anything except poor trading results and a ton of unnecessary stress.
The point of today’s lesson is essentially that you need to change the way you think about trading. The simple mindset ‘hack’ I alluded to in the title is that if you want to succeed at trading, you must be realistic and stop trying to get rich fast. Trading can offer you the world, but the more you feel you ‘need’ it to work, the less likely you are to succeed. When people start feeling desperate or like they ‘need’ to make money in the market, they start doing all kinds of things that lead to their failure. They start trading too big of position sizes for their accounts and skill level, they start trading too much, and they just turn into trading addicts. Be realistic, be honest with yourself and start small and slow and work your way up as you learn, build confidence and improve your abilities.
If you apply the ideas put forward in this article dramatically reducing position size (even if temporary) and commence the mindset re-training regime I put forward above, then over time it’s going to become fair easier to look at a chart, spot a signal and pull the trigger with a stress-free and confident mindset. This is where you want to be, it’s where I am and it’s where you can be with true dedication and discipline. You may not make $1 million in the next year, but you will certainly be acting and thinking like the top 1% of traders, and that’s a great place to be, the world is then your oyster and you can build upon that foundation. Aim for one win at a time and don’t become mentally attached to your trades (be ok whether they win or lose). Get to a point where you can execute trades confidently and leave the trade alone. You need to get these things right because they are the real ‘keys’ to trading success, 16+ years trading and almost 10 years teaching traders has proven to me this is a fact.
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