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Nial Fuller

Professional Trader, Author & Coach

What I Learned After Taking Three Months Off From Trading

wisdomThis is an article inspired by a member and close friend of mine. He is someone who has been trading for over a decade and who has struggled with the ups and downs of trading, like so many other traders. Here’s a little background on him: He is a family man, recently unemployed and looking to be his own boss so he can spend more time with his family and have the lifestyle he’s always wanted. After recently losing his job, he was forced to stop trading live and so he went back to demo trading only. He called me up after about three months of demo trading to tell me what he had learned.

When I spoke with him, he recounted a truly inspiring revelation that he had after taking a few months off from live trading and switching back to demo. He told me that after nearly 16 years in the market and trying to ‘figure it out’, he finally had his “Ah Ha” moment where everything he had learned from me and from his own personal experience, finally came together.

I asked him if I could use his experiences to write an article for you guys, because I know many of you are still struggling and are waiting for everything to “click” with your trading. Hopefully, the insight you are about to learn from will help you have your own “Ah Ha” moment so you can finally get on the track to profitable trading…

(The story below is his, I have paraphrased him and edited it a bit, but this is his 1st person account…)

You don’t need to trade a lot to make a lot of money.

I had always been trying to make a lot of money on small accounts. I’d chuck 1k or 2k into a trading account and think I was going to make 100k a year from that by the end of the year. LOL. Looking back, that kind of thinking really does make me laugh.

Perhaps the most impactful lesson that I learned during my three-month absence from live trading, was that I didn’t need to trade a lot to make a lot of money. I was trading a 50K demo account during my absence, and I only took two trades during that time. One trade was buying the GBPUSD which netted me about 6k and the other was buying Gold, which netted me about 25k. So, I made $31,000 in about three months (10k a month) trading only 2 times. I had no losers, just two big winners. I don’t know about you, but I am pretty happy with making $31,000 in 3 months time, for doing virtually no actual ‘work’ other than using my brain.

Now, I don’t have $50,000 real money to trade with, unfortunately. But, that is OK, because I finally realized and experienced the FACT that you don’t have to trade a lot to make a lot of money! Where have you heard this before?! Probably from the same person I did … Nial Fuller.

How many articles have you read of Nial’s where he talks about low-frequency trading or that over-trading is the death of most traders’ accounts? There’s a reason for this, it’s very, very true! You don’t realize it when you’re caught up trying to make ‘a lot of money’ on a tiny account. You get caught up over-trading and forcing trades, rather than letting trades come to you.

Trading strategy and mastering it, matters, a lot.

During my three-month demo trading odyssey, I was primarily looking to trade pull backs, something Nial teaches and strongly emphasizes in his trading course, something I’ve learned from him primarily, yet I never really put into practice quite right.

The thing about pull backs, I finally realized, is that you basically have to buy a market when it’s down and sell a market when it’s up…both are very hard to do and counter-intuitive to do in the moment. It’s easy to understand but hard to put into motion.

When a market is moving higher, you feel like you want to buy it, and vice versa when it’s moving lower. The KEY is to look at the context of the chart; is the market simply retracing higher within a downtrend? If that is the case, then you should be looking to sell on that up-swing, even though you may not feel like you want to! Sell when a market is up and buy when it’s down.

Most of the time, you should be doing nothing in the market

It’s hard to not care or think about your trades on a real account, but on a demo account, you truly just don’t think about the trades as much, and most of the time, this works to your advantage in dramatic fashion.

I literally didn’t even look at my Gold trade until I was already up $19,000 dollars on it. Had that trade been real, I probably would have already sabotaged it and been out with a tiny profit or a loss by that point.

The point is, we need to detach from the markets more, especially after we enter trades.

Set the trade up, do your due diligence, make sure it meets your criteria and trading plan or strategy, set the stop loss (at least) and possibly target, and just forget about the damn thing for a few days at least! It took me YEARS, actually DECADES to be able to do this! Don’t let this be you!

Bottom-line is; Not looking at your trades once you enter them is probably the single greatest thing you can do to make money as a trader. We are swing trading, not day-trading. Remember that!

Bankroll matters.

In a recent article of Nial Fuller’s, he discussed some things he would say to his former trading self from his current trading self, having gained over a decade and a half of experience. One of the things that hit me the most was how he learned he needed his bankroll to survive in the markets. It seems obvious on the surface, but so many of us trade as if our bankroll doesn’t matter. Then, when a good trade finally comes along, we have little or no money left to take advantage of it.

This point was driven home for me during my three months of demo trading. First off, having a 50k account to start with certainly made things easier, as far as keeping my bankroll intact. That said, I also realized that even though I had 50k to trade with, I could simply crank up the risk if I wanted to, and potentially lose a lot of money very fast. So, yes, account size has advantages, but if you don’t know how to preserve your trading capital, the size of your account is irrelevant. Therefore, Nial is always saying that if you can trade successfully on a small account you can do it on a big account too. So, don’t worry if you have a small account and can’t trade the size you want; work on the mechanics, on the process and then you will be able to use that same approach as your account grows or if you find an investor.

Don’t be in a trade just to be in a trade.

This was a lesson that really hit me after switching back to demo trading for a few months. It was apparent that much of my struggles with live trading were because I simply felt an urge to be in the market nearly all the time. It was almost like a guilty pleasure; something I knew was wrong but it felt good so I did it anyways. Of course, it felt good until I lost money, which is the inevitable outcome of most trades taken for this reason.

After my demo trading success, I realized that I only had taken a handful of trades over three months, and those trades led to large gains. So, not only was I trading far less, I also made far more money, there is indeed a connection and I believe in this case correlation does indicate causation!

Patience is what makes you money, but patience is not easy.

Being patient while trading a demo account seems to be far easier than being patient on a live account. This is typically because when you’re trading demo you simply ‘don’t care’ as much as when you’re trading live, since there’s no real money on the line. When people go from a big 50k demo account to a small real account, they feel an urge to build up that real account fast, so they can trade the big size they were on the 50k demo. But, this simply leads them to over-trade and over-leverage and blow out their accounts. For this reason, it’s probably a good idea to open your demo account with the same amount of money or close to the same as what you will trade with live.

Failure eventually became success

Finally, after many years of failing as a trader, I realized that the reasons I was failing were things I had the ability to fix. Here is how I fixed it:

  • I wrote down in detail, everything I was doing differently as I traded my demo account. This included how I was feeling as I analyzed the market each day, how I felt as I set up a trade, how I felt as I did nothing and let the trade play out, the actual setups I took and how I managed them, etc. This was basically a trading journal, and I suggest every trader creates one. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, so don’t over-think it. You can just record your thoughts in a Word document or even write them in a notebook. Just make a record or journal of your trades and your thoughts and feelings each day as you interact with the market in any way, shape or form.
  • I stopped being in a rush to make money. My demo trading success made me realize that the underlying issue behind why I was losing on my real account and why most traders lose, is simply due to being in a rush to make money. Trading is so difficult because psychologically, the more you want and try to make money from the market, the less likely you are to do so. People do well on demo accounts because their brain and the hormones it produces lead to the type of interaction and behavior in the market that results in profits. On live accounts, it’s typically the opposite. The reason why is because on a live account, people are in rush to make money, whilst on a demo account, they are just thinking of it as a ‘game’, since there’s no money involved.
  • So, really, if I could sum up what I learned from my success on a demo account for 3 months, it’s to simply treat your live trading account as if it’s game, and you are playing to win the game, not to make money! Making money is simply a byproduct of playing the game well enough to win.

I could not have done any of this nor would I have had these dramatic realizations had I not started studying the trading ideas and philosophies taught by Nial Fuller on his blog and in his courses. I know that probably sounds cliché to some of you, but it’s true. The main ideas Nial teaches sound simple and effective, and they truly are, but it is our own flaws and emotional miscues that make them so hard to follow. If you are having trouble with your live account, I would suggest going back to a practice account and start studying Nial’s teachings, until you finally have your own “Ah Ha” moment.



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Nial Fuller

About Nial Fuller

is a Professional Trader, Investor & Author who is considered ‘The Authority’ on Price Action Trading. His blog is read by over 200,000+ followers and he has taught 25,000+ students since 2008. In 2016, Nial won the Million Dollar Trader Competition. Checkout Nial's Professional Trading Course here.
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  1. Andrzej

    This article is clear, logical and practical. This is also the whole blog. And more and more as you read. This is a huge difference and I met with it for the first time. My previous teachings always had some vague elements. For example, the course from morning to evening. After all, it is not possible to grasp the enormity of material in such a short time. So what for? It is not logical. Or advice, start trading from a few small transactions to sense the market? Strange, not clear. And many other similar things.

  2. Anastasis

    Through reading this article ,I am motivated now to start my demo account as will be for the first time to trade.Thank you very much for your teachings.
    May God always richly bless you.

  3. Rahmat

    Yes right, sometimes we need to take such as 3 months off from trading and self evaluate on what we did whether following our trading rules or deviated. Trading journal will much help during such self-evaluation time. Similar story situation was also happened to me. Thank you for great article.

  4. Victor Zingwena

    After week of reading I think I’m ready to graduate to a live account

  5. muskrat

    So very good to have the mirror held up to you!!

  6. Daniel

    Great readings. Very inspiring and educative


    Finally, even after knowing all tips, dos, don;t – it is execution skill that matters most. To achieve execution skill- proper mindset, patience, control of greed and belief that opportunities are never missed, {that is (missing out opportunity) your feeling only} are keys.
    Once you achieve mastery over them whether its is demo account or real account does not matter. Yes, to achieve the execution excellency let us try small account, demo account etc. As somebody pointed out – no leverage. Risk management, money management and trading plan a must.

  8. Sulaiman

    You could probably do well on demo account than on real account because you are less emotional ,under pressure and less drive to make profit because it isn’t real.

  9. Ivane Zurabishvili

    awesome, every article from Nial
    gives new moments for trading process, some times big, some times small :) thanks Nial

  10. Michael Odupitan

    Great Article. I completely agree. I have struggled at trading over the last 4 years but giving up is definitely not an option for me. I have found my emotional control is my biggest downfall. Sometimes when I’m on a consistent profitable trading run something in my mind tells me to let the market have a breather and whilst patiently doing this and just watching the markets I then miss out on a bigger trading opportunity I would normally have taken; This then gets me really (REALLY) upset and I aggressively look and wait for another opportunity which usually ends of being wrong and effectively blowing my account. Nial’s course is good way to start as I have built alot of confidence from this. I’m actually surprised this is not a monthly subscription service.
    Finally with regard to Demo accounts this has never really worked for me; my brain always works differently when trading a live account compared to a demo account; I just can’t explain it. My alternative (substitute) to a demo account is to open a small live account and deposit approx 100 to 200 USD and trade micro lots (0.01). This allows you to test and practice your strategy and methods from Nial’s course. Even with this my brain still never really adjusts to the fact that its just a small live account. At one point, I made a return of up to 300% on an account of this size but still struggled to replicate this on the actual large live account of interest. PATIENCE is the important keyword here followed by TIMING and SKILLFUL EXECUTION.

  11. Khesiwe

    I agree with Nial if you don’t make any profit it’s fine to take a break analyze your mistakes DEMO is good because its a practice account every successfully player is the one who is always in practice this is a very inspiring article thanks

  12. Sthembiso

    Thanks, great article as always.

  13. Rahmat

    Thanks for sharing good story. It looks like a contrarian trader.

  14. Onuh Bernard

    I appreciate your teaching. I want to learn forex trading.

  15. J.E.N from Nigeria

    Thanks you are always outstanding, God bless you in folds

  16. Andrew Thompson

    I very rearly make comments but this is so close to my own trading problems its amazing. Over the years I have over traded and traded agains the trend. I haven’t been picky enough and all for one reasonlove, i love being in a trade. They say there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path and I am determined to stick the rules.

    • Réal Drolet (real-kebex)

      Exactly the same to me and the timing is right there. I’m back with a demo account since last week. Nothing happen for nothing. Hope this time will be the one! Thank you!

  17. bruno

    Planning and waiting for your edge, doing nothing, striking with logic and money well managed, doing nothing again, accept what the market does, journalling, then repeat, rinse and recycle = consistently successful trader!

    when you get and selflessly practice that above formula, you’ll wonder why u didn’t do it ever since!

  18. Monica

    Totally awesome article Nial!!
    And awesome comments by ‘now successful’ traders to spur us all on!!
    A wealth of experience and wisdom,…..THANK YOU to all!!

  19. Alex

    Trading on the demo removes the fear of losing money and helps to catch the right mood. From this point of view it is useful and can be used. However, two transactions are not enough to conclude about the correctness of the strategy.

  20. cebo

    i hope everybody heard that, because i learned more than enough i think this article is all i ever needed to make positive changes in my trading, i always get confused when i open intraday charts, and wonder why it doesnt make complete sence, than what i saw when i was analysing a daily time frame chart. i feel confidant enough when i take one risk and enter a trade that will go days on position because as days goes by prices move away from your entery point making you some profit until you reach your target then you take your money. pay time

  21. Bongani Muthisi

    Nial has given us everything we need to make it in the markets – the key to accurately put these methods into practice and make money is: YOU MUST NOT NEED what you’re looking to make in the market. If you can have a way to cover your immediate needs, and use what Nial has given us as your long term plan for financial freedom, you will find that it works like magic… I came across this site and I became a better trader, and my account balance got beautiful… Thanks again Nial Fuller

  22. Olabanji Babalola

    I have demo trade with profitable trade yet when I switch to life trade i make losses these make me question all I have learnt, so yes I believe the problem is with me and not the strategy

  23. Rt3

    Well, I am a newbie. I traded live. I made unbooked profit but as the article suggest, just ignore it for a couple of days. But the next day, it went against me and I lost real money because it never came back. The other time, I waited and waited, then came a signal at the right support, but it turned out to be a false signal. Waited for a long time and still lost money. Frustrating. To do this strategy, I think I need a large account, practice reading price action and be a crocodile, aim for the big target. But there is another way of doing it, like an ant, take small profit before it goes against you. Little by little, it will add up. So I’m back to day trading. Take small profit, lower time frame M30. Close all position when you are away from computer. The benefit is you don’t need to worry all the time about your position as in swing trading. Only on demo account you can ignore it and not worry because it is not real money. With a good strategy, it is possible to make profit in day trading. I see someone do it live. Sure he only make $45 to $2.8k in a trade but he avoided big losses and his winning trade is 89% . What I learn from Nial Lesson is how to trade pullback in the trend, follow the trend and don’t try to find the bottom/top like I used to do, like most newbie. My hand hurt from catching too many falling knife.

  24. akash

    thnxx sir it will be very helpful for new trader

  25. Gaz

    You can only truly realise just how significant the points raised in this article really are…. after you’ve experienced and achieved this position. So…if you’re failing…stick with it….in this game you MUST fail in all areas, particularly the psychology involved in this game…before you will succeed.
    And I totally agree with the summary position…that it NEEDS to be treated like a game…and nothing more serious…but a game to win.

  26. Adam

    Thank You….may good bless you for all the knowledge you given to us

    • Sharda Ram

      Thank u for all info.want to learn trading skills

  27. Adrian Fiorito

    Great article. inspiring. these articles more than anything inspire me more to stay patient and focussed

  28. Matt

    Entering the market with the correct mindset is key.. learning and following Nial’s teachings is essential.
    I personally lost 5k in trading “green” and being led by greed.. following Nial and actually listening has been the best thing I have ever done.
    My following 10k investment in the market and using Nials principles has given me the opportunity to live the dream and become a full time trader.
    While not millionaires we live comfortably and enjoy our time.
    We sold our investment property, second car, and business equipment to invest in the market.
    That is not something everyone will do, but following the principles of Nial’s lessons and walking away if the trade does not “sing” to me, has been extremely beneficial.
    I am in no way a millionaire but following Nial has led to a healthy income that means I no longer require a conventional job.
    I read and re read everything that is posted, I constantly go back to basics and I stick with the plan.
    I am grateful for not needing to be anywhere at anytime for anyone anymore

  29. Danny Vulic

    100% Correct. But also find the why that suits you. I like David trade pullbacks. This has worked for me, I don’t know why that’s what I do. But learning not to trade is the hardest thing to learn by far.

  30. Jon Kyle

    Good advice one again Nial Its inspiring to hear the same trading theme being articulated from different angles. However just like learning the alphabet and time tables with repetition or by rote so it must be to learn absolute truths about trading.
    Please keep your inspiring articles flowing they may have the same message but the are much appreciated and of great value.

  31. MichaelB

    Totally agree with David here…Demo trading is a GAME….Live trading is a BUSINESS. None of your mental skills and resilience are put to the test in demo trading, which account for 90% of your trading success; yes, you only need a few (LARGE ) trades to make alot of money, i.e. have a 50-100k account, much larger if your amibition is to make a living; remember, and I’m quoting one of Nial’s articles, you should be able to lose 20 trades in a row and still risk the same amount on your next trade, so do the math and set realistic targets. Thanks again for posting another insightful article, Nial.

  32. Mike Coe

    What an absolutely incredible piece! It really is quite profound. A masiive thank you Nial, and the same to your friend. Magnificent.

  33. Daniel

    Great article les

  34. Marco

    I think the most important aspect of trading is your trading journal. Without that, you can’t do anything. You need to analyze what you did, why you did it, what were your thoughts, feelings… When you start writing your work proccess you begin to realize how to do it better day after day. The improvement is exponential with a trading journal.

  35. jim

    Sorry @ donald

    • Donald

      By way of example – oil has fallen hard to 45 USD. Double bottom potential. Its low was about 45 last week. Now we see 2 pinbars on daily. Small candles which are great for low risk trade. I need to see oil trade above 46 USD next week to enter long. With all of my capital. Stop loss 44.8
      Alternative approach is same entry but no stop. Half of capital used. If price falls buy again at 43 USD which is next obvious support BUT only if you see the pinbar or engulfing candle support. Target 50 USD.
      Risk reward is good as should be about 4 to 1. Plus if it charged through target RR can get much higher, maybe 10 to 1.

  36. jim

    @ David. Could you explain this “Trade big. Warren Buffet also says this. Make your bets large. Either go all in with all of your capital with a stop-loss or use money -management to double up if price moves against you.


    Hi Nial. I have a demo account and a real one. If I trade the real as the demo I would win a lot more. But I still do not trust me.
    I see trending patterns that are born, I recognize them, but when I apply as if I have no courage. I think I need more trust and experience.

  38. arin collins

    Good job Nail.

  39. arin collins

    I wouldnt agree less With you on this Nial.
    In fact, this has been my Achilles heels in trading. If I get your point clearly, the lesson here is that one should not meddle with his trade till the target is achieved. Bravo my master.

  40. Lufuno

    since i started to read your materials, it gives me a full career as a trader. Always remember you when said” Keep it simple stupid, trade like crocodile ,sniper and trade high timeframe using naked chats, you are just amazing.

    • Sthe Dlungwane

      Very true

  41. Martin

    Trading is a game and money is score. That’s interesting comparison.

  42. Donald

    I fully endorse the sentiments in this article. I have been trading for 20 years and successfully for about 4years.
    I would add a few things.
    1. Never use leverage. This is part of being patient. Leverage will wipe you out eventually. Without exception.
    2. Trade big. Warren Buffet also says this. Make your bets large. Either go all in with all of your capital with a stop-loss or use money -management to double up if price moves against you.
    3. Dont use indicators. They are derivations of price and have no predictive value. None.
    4. Run your profits. Be greedy here. Reach resistance and give it a chance to break through.
    5. Use ETFs to trade. They are ultra-cheap. Ignore SB companies. They are thieves.
    6. Use Nial Fullers chart methods on a daily chart or above. Lower time-frame charts are for compulsive gamblers and addicts. They cannot be taken seriously.
    7. Only have one trade running. Everything is priced relative to USD. It is pointless having several instruments running. You just add to costs.

  43. Alfred

    This is a wonderful piece. That patience is the key to everything but it’s so hard to keep it especially in a live account

  44. Mimi

    I fully agree with David and the psychological aspect of trading is the hardest obstacle (for me, anyway). We are told to use small volumes etc. etc. to manage stress, but whether we trade a full lot or micro-lots, makes no difference to the psychological aspect in trading and I know a few traders that have blown accounts using micro-lots with perfectly good strategies!

    I’m successful, but what helped me was in fact NOT to use demo accounts as it gives a false sense of the ‘reality” awaiting traders. I know many will disagree with my comment, but that’s OK! However, I wish the author of the article all the best and thanks for sharing his story.

  45. Brian

    Thanks for sharing Nial. As is said: “patience is the essence of a peaceful process”. I would still love a book (article) from you someday on the trades you took in the contest. That way we could see the trade set up, thought process, and entry. Your articles are great. I think that some of us find the daily time frame trade set up identification difficult. 4 hour charts I can see structure levels better. Pin bars and pullbacks at key levels are the clearest to me on Daily charts. Be well and encouraged Teach. Thanks always.

  46. David

    Great article and insights. I would be very interested to see the same traders performance when he goes “live” again in the market. Trading live is completely different than demo, so while his “aha” moments were a revelation to him in demo, producing the same actionable results live without being able to trade the same amount he did in his demo account will be the challenge.