All Forex traders tend to commit similar mistakes when interacting with the market. They also tend to harbor similar misconceptions about trading and what successful Forex trading is all about. This week’s article can be thought of as a guide to what the biggest trading mistakes and misconceptions are and what you can do to put an end to them. You should refer back to this article often to help you stay on the path to becoming a profitable trader. This article will give you some valuable insight and direct you to other relevant articles so that you can stop making the same trading mistakes and let go of any misconceptions you hold about Forex trading.
1. Trading with indicators and fancy tools –
Many Forex traders, especially beginners, tend to erroneously believe that they need to use indicators to fully understand Forex price movement, or that indicators will help them in some way become more profitable. This leads many traders to concentrate solely on reading and trading from indicators, instead of the actual price action that these indicators are derived from. The bottom line is that indicators provide no real advantage over simply learning to read a “naked” price chart, and they actually inhibit your progress as a trader because they distract you from learning to read the pure price dynamics that occur on the charts every day. Price action tells you what is most likely to happen next in the market, you just have to know how to interpret it. After learning to trade with price action you will soon learn why trading with indicators destroys Forex trading success.
2. Not fully understanding and implementing risk / reward –
If there is one thing that all professional traders have in common it is that they fully understand the power of risk reward and how to implement it on every single trade they take. Beginning traders obviously know the importance of making sure their winners are larger than their losing trades, but they often do not understand how this translates into real world trading and what it really means. Every single trade you consider taking should be viewed in terms of risk to reward. You have to consider not only if your trading edge is present, but if the realistic potential of the risk reward on the trade makes it worth taking.
We typically want to make at least two times our risk on any one trade, doing so gives us an excellent shot at making consistent money over the long-run. Many traders get caught up on losing 2 or 3 trades in a row because they fail to understand the full implications and practical application of risk reward ratios that take time to play out. Check out the following articles to learn why risk reward in Forex is the true Holy Grail, and to learn how Forex risk reward and price action trading can make you a consistently profitable trader.
3. Not understanding position sizing –
Many traders come into the Forex market and they do not understand that just because you put a wider stop loss on a trade does not mean you have to risk more money or that just because you put a smaller stop loss on a trade does not mean you automatically risk less. A very common mistake that traders often make is that they adjust their stop loss to meet the number of lots they want to trade, instead of adjusting their position size to meet the most logical and realistic stop loss distance. A thorough understanding of position sizing is very important to your overall money management plan and to correct implementation of risk reward on every single trade.
4. Not having a Forex trading plan –
Most beginning traders make the mistake of not having a functional trading plan, and they also harbor the misconception that they don’t really need one. Forex trading needs to be treated as a business, and just like having a business plan is necessary for the growth and prosperity of any business, having a Forex trading plan is necessary for the growth and prosperity of any trader. A trading plan helps to keep you accountable in a world that allows you to do an unlimited amount of damage to yourself; the world of Forex trading. Most traders seem to get fixated on how much money they can make and thus lose focus of the real risk involved in Forex trading, a Forex trading plan that you read every single day can help to keep you focused and on track, so that you don’t fall off the wagon and begin trading in a delusional manner.
5. Gambling instead of trading –
A question that every trader who has been trading for any period of time needs to stop and ask their self is; “Am I gambling or am I trading responsibly?”. Almost every trader falls into some sort of cycle where they are simply gambling instead of trading at some point in their trading career. The quicker you can recognize this and pull yourself out of this deadly cycle the quicker you will become consistent and profitable. Trading should really be viewed as “risk managing”, and not necessarily as “trading”, the traders who manage their risk the best are the ones who make the most money; take care of your risk and the market will take care of the rest; that is a very general anecdote, but it is also true, you have to control your risk very consistently if you don’t want to end up gambling in the market, when you put your focus on risk control instead of on how much money you can make the money will seem to come naturally. So, are you a Forex trader or a gambler?
6. Allowing emotions to cloud judgment / giving into emotions –
There are many factors that can contribute to and induce emotional trading, and emotional trading is the reason why so many traders lose money in the markets. Emotional trading is the end of result of not doing other things right, like anything or everything else listed in this article. Any one of the trading mistakes listed in this article can induce emotional trading, and once you begin trading emotionally it is extremely difficult to pull yourself out of its grips because it is a psychologically reinforcing problem that traders simply cannot shake unless they totally stop trading for a period of time and take a step back to think logically about what they are doing.
The Forex market can be an excellent arena for self-improvement and mastery of one’s own impulses and mind, or it can be an arena for total financial destruction and loss, which arena you ultimately create depends on whether or not you can master your primitive emotional brain structures with your more advanced logically thinking and planning brain structures. Read about how price action will help cure emotional trading problems.
7. Not having patience –
Patience is scare among amateur Forex traders. The reason it is scarce is because most new traders approach the market from the complete wrong perspective. Most people are attracted to trading because they think it will “fix” their life in some way, whether through freeing them from a job they hate or by providing them with extra money. While these are by no means bad or inappropriate goals to have, when you approach your trading from a feeling of “needing” it to work because you have no other options, you are almost certainly doomed to fail as a trader.
You have to be completely fine with whatever happens to your trades, and this means not trading with money you can’t afford to lose. Once you start approaching the market from a perspective of not feeling like it “has to” work out for you to be happy in life, you will begin to exercise more patience in the Forex market and this will drastically improve your overall winning percentage and will actually make you more profitable faster.
8. Not trading higher time frames –
I have been trading for nearly 10 years now and I still almost solely look at the daily and 4 hour charts. It amazes me to no end how many beginning traders that I encounter who want to trade shorter time frames. I get emails almost every day from traders asking me questions about trading the 15 minute charts, or even lower time frames. The simple fact of higher time frames that makes me concentrate most of my trading efforts on them instead of their lower time frame counterparts is that they act as natural filters of price movement, filtering out the price action that is not useful and leaving with you with a much clearer picture of what price is likely to do. This is why when you trade higher time frames in Forex combined with price action you have an extremely potent trading strategy at your finger tips.
9. Over-trading / being too involved
The quickest way to becoming a full-fledged emotional trader right behind over-leveraging, is over-trading. I find that traders are often guilty of over-trading and don’t even realize it. Most traders that I encounter do not spend long enough demo trading; this means they jump into live-market trading too soon and as a result of this they begin over-trading because they have not spent enough time on the demo charts perfecting their Forex trading strategy. Over-trading is most tempting after a trade, whether it is a loser OR a winner. Traders need to be especially aware of their state of mind immediately after exiting a trade, because this is when emotions like revenge and euphoria hit their peak, making it very likely the trader will dive back in the market with no real sound reasoning behind their action. Forex trading can be addictive and you certainly should trade less to profit more.
10. Not taking profits –
Yet another area where Forex trading is a paradox is profit taking. While hope is a great feeling to have in almost every other endeavor in life, in the financial markets hope is often the downfall of traders. They hope for larger profits, or they hope the next trade will allow them to make back all the money they lost. Most retail traders simply do not fully realize or understand the implications of the fact that the Forex market ebbs and flows, it never moves in a straight line for every long. So, when trying to build up a relatively small trading account it is essential to your equity curve and to your emotional sanity that you take profits as they come, instead of constantly hoping and holding out futilely for ever larger profits.
This is why I teach that traders should often take profits of 2 or 3 times risk, because generally speaking if you hope for more than this once you are up 2 to 3 times risk, the market is going to reverse and move back towards your entry. These reversals are what shake out most amateur traders, so it is crucial that you take profits when you have them, otherwise they are likely to disappear very quickly. As the Kenny Rogers song goes: “You’ve got to know when to hold em and know when to fold em”.
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